Video Game Companies Need to Take a Firm Stance to Remove and Ban Toxic Players in Their Discord (and Other) Communities
Discord has become an essential part of the Video Game Industry. As the Gold Standard for managing Video Game Social Media and communities, David Logan of Gamasutra eloquently describes the need for Discord as such:
“Fifteen years ago, anyone launching an indie game would have needed to make a Facebook. Ten years ago, they’d need Twitter. Five years ago, they’d need Instagram. Today, every marketing expert in gaming is going to tell you to set up a Discord server…”David Logan – Gamasutra
With that in mind, it’s equally important for Video Game Developers to protect their communities by taking the necessary actions and ban toxic, harmful, and dangerous individuals from their Discord Servers.
Toxic Players: A Vocal Minority That Can Cause Irreparable Harm
There will always be community members that will troll the company for decisions they might not agree with, but the majority of bad behavior that comes from toxic players will affect positive community members that are critical for the health of the game’s business goals.
At GamerSpeak, we’ve seen firsthand how toxic players can destroy an amazing community that would otherwise help build relationships, retention rate, and a positive and fun experience for your Video Game.
Our CEO, Chad Kihm, explains,
“It can be difficult to pull the trigger on banning a loyal or popular player, but it’s absolutely the right thing to do. I’ve witnessed countless times developers NOT banning a toxic player, causing many happy and healthy players to leave the game. Ultimately resulting in far more revenue and loyalty lost.
We experienced a focus group of 20 VIP players where 4 of them were incredibly toxic, and since the developers didn’t ban them, 10 of the positive VIPs left the game. Which ended up costing the developer way more money.
Allowing toxic players into focus groups for your game will generate an equally negative result. The constructive and positive players will succumb to the toxicity and leave the focus group.
One possible solution to dealing with toxic players is chat banning them in-game and in official community channels. Making it more difficult for them to affect your healthy player base.”Chad Kihm, CEO – GamerSpeak
As Chad mentioned, it’s important to note that Discord shouldn’t be the only platform where these bans take place. If you have a Social Media presence (Line, Facebook, Reddit, YouTube, Twitch, Twitter, Instagram, etc…), In-Game Chat/Voice options, and/or Forums, you should make it clear that toxic behavior will not be tolerated in those environments as well.
Video Game Developers Who Are Setting the Standard vs Toxicity
Currently, there are Video Game Developers, Content Platforms, and Esports Leagues who have already taken a firm stance against toxic players, including those that are incredibly well-known in the Esports Competitive scene or commands a large following.
Popular streamers and Esports Competitors like Herschel “Dr. Disrespect” Beahm IV, Tyler “tyler1/T1” Steinkamp, Sebastian “Forsen” Fors, Evan “DRG” Depauw are all prime examples of players getting punished for toxic behavior regardless of their status, influence, and/or fame.
While a lot of these players were banned from content creation sites (YouTube, Twitch), in some extreme cases, they’ll be banned for life, like in the case of Dr. Disrespect who has broken Twitch’s Terms of Service multiple times and resulted in a permanent ban despite using Twitch as a platform since 2011.
While his ban from Twitch hasn’t been disclosed, Dr. Disrespect has received previous bans over misogynistic and racist comments and accusations, sharing Coronavirus Conspiracy Theory footage to his audience, and his infamous bathroom filming incident that resulted at E3 and banned him from the event.
Incidents like these have forced other Video Game Developers like Riot and Ubisoft to take a “No Tolerance” policy on Toxic Behavior in their respective franchises. Riot’s League of Legends, regarded to be one of the most Toxic Video Game Communities around the world, has firmly increased the frequency of their bans for Toxic Behavior.
In 2012, Riot permanently banned Christian “IWillDominate” Rivera from League of Legends because of persistent Toxic Behavior and Unsportsmanlike Conduct.
“The League of Legends Tribunal shared their decision on the game’s forums. They point out that, while they do not tolerate any unsportsmanlike behavior, IWillDominate – real name, Christian Rivera – was particularly notable because of how “severe and consistent” his behavior was.”Phil Savage – PC Gamer
In 2013, Riot permanently banned Pro-players, Ilyas “enVision” Hartsema of Mousesports and Damien “Linak” Lorthios of Against All Authority for similar reasons and continues to permanently ban players to this day.
Additionally, over the years, Riot has been expanding its policies into other franchises, most notably Valorant, that decided to ban players from Voice/Chat features and Ranked Matches as early as Patch 1.0.
“If players are not behaving properly, they will be punished accordingly. The first level of punishment will be chat and voice restrictions for repeat offenders, that last 72 hours.
Chat restrictions will be enforced for “all” and “team” chat, but your “party” chat will still be available. Voice restrictions will be enforced for “team” chat, but your “party” voice will still be available.
Also, getting a restriction will require you to log out. Riot wants you to relax and think about what you have done before coming back to the game.”Valorant Community Code – RIOT Games
Additionally, Ubisoft takes a similar approach to ban toxic players from their franchises. Ubisoft’s Brand Director for Rainbow Six Siege, Alexandre Remy, explains,
“We have no regrets when it comes to banning toxic players… If you do not punish it, it’s going to grow exponentially.”Alexandre Remy – Director for Rainbow Six
“The ban system is going strong, actually, and we feel very strongly about the system… That system is going to be evolving too. Today, the system means that any player that uses homophobic or racial slurs in our chat will automatically receive a temporary ban. After three temporary bans, you get permanently banned.”Alexandre Remy – Director for Rainbow Six
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Content Creators Who Are Eliminating Toxic Player’s Voices
Big Video Game Developers aren’t the only ones that need to continue to take a strong stance against toxic players and community members. Content Creators have a vested interest in protecting their communities from harmful people and eliminating them completely.
Maximilian “Maximilan_DOOD” Christiansen currently has over one million subscribers on YouTube, nearly one million followers on Twitch, and has won consecutive awards from Twitch for having “Most Non-Toxic Chatroom”, recently disclosed why his community is overwhelmingly positive and friendly.
“In all honesty, if I see someone walk in and come into my chat and they’re talking mad sh** like that, and then I look at their message history and it’s under five messages in my stream, they’re not coming back… Sorry, there’s a very small chance that I’m going to give them an opportunity to say anything more.
I am a huge advocate that if somebody has a lot of shi**y stuff to say, I want to remove your voice. I want to remove your ability to communicate to other people. If you’re being a s***-head or being an a-hole to somebody, I want to remove your ability to talk to people. I want to take that away. And I don’t celebrate it, I just get rid of them.”Maximilian “Maximilan_DOOD” Christiansen
Maximilian_Dood, Twitch, (27:00 – 30:30; 3/16/21) *Warning NSFW due to excessive cursing*
To further illustrate this dangerous behavior, Discord’s Moderator Academy referenced a Stanford Study on the huge amount of harm that a small number of people can inflict on similar communities:
“A 2018 study by Stanford University estimated that 1% of subreddit communities on Reddit initiate 74% of all conflict on the platform. This incredibly small percentage of users rank extremely low in the agreeableness personality trait, and have no interest in getting along with others.” – 443: Ban Evasion and Advanced Harassment, Discord Moderator Academy
In conclusion, protecting your video game communities is an investment into your own company. These fans of your game invested money, time, and energy into your product and would like to enjoy that product in a safe and fun environment. A developer that doesn’t take a firm stance against toxic behavior, bullying, doxing, and/or harassment, is directly telling its audience that we don’t care about you or they have bigger priorities. And that message will have a negative impact on your companies’ reputation and revenue.
Keys To Building a Safe and Non-Toxic Community
With that being said, here are some key takeaways to keep in mind when building a safe and non-toxic community:
- It doesn’t matter how experienced, loyal, or high spending a player is, if they break the rules, they should get banned. Set the example as a Company and don’t tolerate Toxic Behavior/Players.
- This is the industry standard. Regardless of the clout, popularity, influence, our net worth of the individual, Video Game Developers, Companies, Sponsorships, and Content Creation Tools are holding people to higher standards to prevent Toxic Behavior and Toxic Communities.
- By eliminating Toxic Behavior and/or Toxic Players, you’re protecting your Moderators and your Communities Safety and Well Being; which translates to happier players, more invested players, and more continued revenue for your video game.
- Always set clear expectations and rules for your community to follow. Whether it’s a Discord Server, Line Room, Sub-Reddit, or any other community site, make sure that your Rules are visible and held to the highest standard by your Moderators and your community members.
- Here’s a great set of Discord Rules/Guidelines that you can use as a template. Of course, change and/or amend rules, if applicable, to specific scenarios.
- Additionally, here’s a model that you can use for temporary and permanent bans for your Discord Server.
- It takes only a few toxic individuals to destroy a positive community. All of your hard work in creating a fun, positive, and enjoyable community can be destroyed by the short efforts of a few bad eggs. There’s no excuse for this especially when removing these individuals can be as easy as *Right-Clicking* their Username, and selecting “Ban”.
If you’re looking for an experienced team with years of community management experience, but can also provide key actionable recommendations to improve your community and your video game, you can schedule a consultation call here.
Our expert team delivers up-to-date content, tips, and strategy guides that we share in our various communities to ensure that your engaging player base is always current with how to play your game and stay engaged.
Our team delivers community insights directly to Video Game Developers to increase the overall quality and retention rate of the game. “We attribute around 15-20% ($150k-$200k/mo) of our revenue to GamerSpeak’s customer feedback loop and community insights.” – Jihyun Seo, Head of Global Business Strategy, Netmarble F&C
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