'Overwatch' Players Are Crashing Servers to Avoid Losses in New Competitive Mode

New glitch result in server crashes during Competitive Play matches, thus preventing change to ranking.

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Jul 2 2016, 5:30pm

Image: Blizzard.

My, how quickly things can change. Just last Monday, I proposed that the easygoing nature of Blizzard Entertainment's multiplayer shooter Overwatch was largely responsible for its catching up with the likes of multiplayer favorites like League of Legends, even while acknowledging that its then-upcoming Competitive Play mode could "destroy the happy state of affairs we've enjoyed." That competitive mode is here now, and sure enough, people are being thorough assholes in it only a couple of days in. And it's not just the usual dickery of name-calling and threats (though there is that)—players are going so far as to use a glitch to shut down ranked matches that aren't going the way they wish.

It's a simple thing, ultimately consisting of little more besides getting the character Genji (or, by some accounts, Hanzo) wedged into a tight space. After that, the player taps the spacebar repeatedly, which would normally result in a jump or the start of a climb out in the arena proper. But suddenly the match crashes, and the actions prior to the crash vanish and leave no lasting mark on any player's win or loss record.

There's not a clear reason for why it's happening, but the best-sounding guess I've seen and can come up with is that the server is trying to register the two characters as climbing but gets confused upon discovering that they actually aren't. The stress ultimately proves too much for the server, and it ends up crashing as quickly as the pound sterling on June 24.

It's so simple, in fact, that I initially fretted over describing it in such detail. What finally won me over is the realization that Blizzard is actually living in to the promise it made last May when it said that anyone caught cheating in Overwatch would be permanently banned—"full stop."

"Not only does cheating undermine the spirit of fair play that all of our products are based on," Blizzard's forum post from May said, "but it works to diminish the fun and enjoyment of others."

And sure enough, the reports of banned accounts are already streaming in, whether it's from the comment sections of videos like the one above, Reddit posts, or Overwatch's own official forums. One Reddit user, Ranchoddas, was nice enough to post the email he received from Blizzard as a warning to others after he was banned for using the exploit only a handful of times.

"Recent activity on this account has shown exploitation of game functionality, which harms the intended player experience," the email read, along with a notice that Blizzard's actions conformed to the terms of Overwatch's EULA. "Our team used issued this closure only after a careful review of relevant evidence. Our support staff will not overturn these closures and may not respond to appeals."

That "may" suggests there's at least a small chance of getting the account back in the right circumstances, even if it's only in a Lloyd-in-Dumb & Dumber kind of way. I wouldn't count on it. As easy as the glitch is, Blizzard's probably going to be issuing a lot of bans this long weekend, although hopefully they'll get a patch out for it before the issue explodes into something worthy of a Fourth of July fireworks display.

Considering that cheating continues to plague competitive versions of popular multiplayer games, it's good to see that Blizzard isn't messing around. And this is only the latest stage in an ongoing battle—last month, when the game was still brand new, Blizzard showed how it viewed such unscrupulous activities with a harsh worldwide ban.