Valve has introduced a new feature in Dota 2 that allows players to avoid toxic gamers in matchmaking, but only if they buy the Battle Pass.
The Battle Pass for Dota 2 is a popular item that has traditionally offered cosmetics and other non-essential inclusions for players to enjoy. It is often tied to or considered a seasonal event DLC that supports the ongoing maintenance and development of the game.
Recently, however, there has been a troubling inclusion to the Battle Pass. A new option has been added, which is called the “Avoid Player” feature. As the name implies, this new feature is designed to limit toxic players from the pool of candidates used in matchmaking by allowing players to choose not to play with a particular individual again. This means that unless players purchase the Battle Pass, they do not have access to this new feature, and are more likely to play with toxic players than those who do purchase the Battle Pass.
Many multiplayer games today have a clear-cut policy when it comes to player toxicity, which we can broadly define as griefing, profanity, the use of misogynistic or racially charged language, throwing matches, and colluding to inflate competitive rank (often known as boosting or win-trading). While some policies against these acts are somewhat effective, others are not. There are few truly useful systems in place meant to help avoid toxic players.
Finding ways to avoid toxic players in multiplayer games is often an uphill battle. Some games allow for certain players to be blocked or muted. Unfortunately, though, this usually means that a player must first experience the brunt of what makes these players toxic in the first place.
The idea that Valve is developing technology to keep the atmosphere of gaming fun and wholesome is wonderful. However, limiting such innovation to a paywall in an otherwise free-to-play game is worrisome. In a free-to-play game such as Dota 2, it seems absurd to force players to pay in order to avoid toxic gamers.
Hopefully, this feature will be shared among the entire player base in the future. If the model remains as it currently stands, locked behind a paywall, some players may decide to spend their time and money elsewhere.