Blizzard have announced a controversial decision regarding Twitch chat on their upcoming Overwatch Contenders broadcasts.
From December 28 to January 12, Blizzard will be trialing a system in which viewers have to link their Blizzard accounts to their Twitch accounts in order to participate in the chat for Contenders broadcasts.
Viewers who do not already have their accounts linked will be prompted to do so if they try to engage in the chat during this trial.
Should there be any viewers who don’t already have a Blizzard account but wish to watch and chat during the Contenders streams, creating one is at least free.
Blizzard didn’t specify exactly how they intended to use the system in order to “create a more positive viewing experience”, but it would seem that the aim is to encourage more positive chat by enabling Blizzard to enforce consequences for negative behavior beyond Twitch itself.
Blizzard have previously stated they’re willing to monitor and potentially take action on behavior outside of the game itself when it comes to addressing negativity, so this move is in line with that model.
In a Developer Update in January 2018, game director Jeff Kaplan stated that the team “proactively seek out social media sites like YouTube, for example, and look for incidents of very toxic behavior, and seek out the accounts that are participating in those, and action them often times before anybody’s even reported them or they’ve shown up in any other place.”