Microsoft Doesn’t Understand the Internet – Playing Redlight Greenlight with Reputation

Microsoft pioneered online gaming for consoles. They built up the infrastructure; the invented achievements; and they brought out the games that showed the world that online gaming wasn’t simply a trend, but the direction of gaming’s future. To put it mildly, Microsoft has given the console gaming world, the best online service bar none. As we sit on the cusp of the next generation, everyone has caught up with Microsoft’s previous innovations, even Nintendo for the most part, so it’s only sensible that Microsoft wants to remain on top of things. This has led to the reveal of their revamped reputation system. It’s a system that has its heart in the right place, but fundamentally doesn’t understand its market, userbase, or even the industry itself. In a nutshell, Microsoft wants to create a system where players with bad reputations are called out on it, and their gamercard will be flagged red if they’ve received too many reports and Microsoft’s reputation algorithm decides they should pass into red. Conversely, players that live in a fantasy world of happiness and togetherness will keep a default green, while those with only a few complaints will be flagged yellow. This will work because if there’s one thing that the internet is full of: it’s sensible, respectful individuals.

That’s what gaming needs, Microsoft, more judgment from strangers!

Firstly, I want to deny the benefits of a reputation system even if it worked perfectly, which it wouldn’t. When you’re playing online, how often are you micromanaging the people you’re playing with? Sure, there’s team games where you want to create a solid team, but a lot of the time, speed is more important that selection. How many times are you playing a death match, and you’re spending most of your time vetting the rest of the people on the server? Wouldn’t you rather get back to shooting at them than scrutinize. This creates almost a metagame of trying to min/max your experience by slotting the right reputation of players in your game, and some people would get paranoid about playing with red card players. Fighters have their own matchmaking system based on skill, and a red card will only confuse people. You see, that red card could have been earned from say Call of Duty, but people may think that person is a disconnecter in the unrelated fighting game. You have you ask yourself: if everything was perfect, would this game improve gaming? I don’t believe it would.

This will improve gaming, right?

Of course, there’s no possible way that this system wouldn’t be a laughing stock. Firstly, Microsoft mentions an algorithm, but also references complaint reports sent in by players. It seems that the algorithm likely sorts these complaints, because there isn’t an algorithm out there that can monitor classy behaviour in something so diverse as every online video game to ever exist. So it’s left to player reports. Players are those people who will send death threat messages if you beat them in Street Fighter; who will accuse you of cheating because they believe in their own inherent superiority; who find some sort of twisted pleasure at making other people angry. Your reputation will be in their hands. Microsoft has said that a couple of reports won’t change your reputation status, but we’re never talking about a couple of reports. If you play online for any amount of time, you will get dozens, hundreds of reports from people that you beat, or simply people who don’t like that green card you’re parading around. As such, I don’t expect green cards will be the norm. And if they aren’t the norm, if yellow or even red is the basic standard then what’s the point? A green card may actually signal the opposite of what its supposed to: that the gamer barely touches online. If the system works like this, and it will, then nobody is going to pay attention about what kind of card you have. For all we know, a red card could come to symbolize a really good player, and not a cheater. Now what you’re left with is a system that penalizes the anal retentive, who never want to lose their precious green reputation, while doing absolutely nothing about the problem it allegedly was supposed to fix.

Yeah, the internet isn’t full of these.

That brings us to unwanted harassment. If you start getting complaints, Microsoft won’t just boot you down to red or yellow. No, they’re going to give you all sorts of warnings to change your behaviour, and likely a chance to refute the charges. This is a horribly broken idea. Now, simply for playing online, gamers will get constantly harassed, not by other players, but by Microsoft itself. When you are on your downtime, and want to relax with a game, do you really want constant messages from Microsoft to tell you that you’re doing it wrong? It’s a horrible idea, and one that will spark not gratitude but annoyance from gamers. I don’t want to hear from Nintendo/Microsoft/Sony if they’re praising me, and I certainly don’t want to think that some company out there is judging me based on the feedback of strangers with too much time on their hands.

More mail from Microsoft? -Delete

And that’s why Microsoft doesn’t understand the internet. They seem to believe they live in a world where the slightest annoyance isn’t met by a barrage of death threats. This is the place where developers like Phil Fish can be bombarded with hate mail against him and his family for not doing anything of consequence. In what world is a reputation system a good idea? How long until red cards will be paraded around as a point of pride among troll-hungry gamers, and will anyone actually care? Microsoft is trying to stay one step ahead of the game in terms of providing the best online service possible. Its an admirable goal, but this only shows how completely disconnected they are with reality. It’s a waste of time and money. Microsoft is no stranger to wasting money on its entertainment division, but this idea is just pathetic.

– Mistranslations for the Modern Gamer


2 thoughts on “Microsoft Doesn’t Understand the Internet – Playing Redlight Greenlight with Reputation

  1. Oh, good. The comment box is back. Anyway, I like this blog. Keep it up! This is how I keep up with the happenings in the gaming world. It's my supplement to the Show Me Your News podcast.I actually found you while goggling the Mass Effect 3 ending, and I was hooked by your DK retrospective.

  2. Thanks for the comment. It's always good to know people are reading. I didn't know that the comments were ever disabled, but I'm pleased to know that the problem solved itself.

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