Xbox Bans Almost 5 Million Accounts, Takes Other Actions Against Gaming Toxicity: Reshaping The Gaming Community

By Flor Orsetti

On November 15, Microsoft Corp MSFT's Xbox published its first Transparency Report for the January to June period of the current year, detailing a series of actions it has taken in order to make the Xbox gaming community and playing environment a safer, more positive and inclusive place, in every aspect.

This is just one of the several initiatives that publishers and other organizations are putting forward so that playing video games online is fun and memorable for everyone.

The report is for Microsoft's Xbox gaming platform and evidences the fact the company took proactive measures against fraudulent accounts, inauthentic accounts and accounts that directly violated its community guidelines on content.

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The total amount of sanctions (suspension of accounts mainly) climbs to 4.78 million in a period of six months.

It’s important to note that, when talking about proactive enforcement, those are the instances where the Xbox protection system managed to find and handle a problem before a gamer reported it.

Now, if we consider reactive actions (after a gamer reports a fellow gamer), the total amount of sanctions enforced by Xbox within its community jumps to more than 7 million.

It should be highlighted that of 4.78 million proactive sanctions, 199.000 of them are for sexual content, 87.000 for fraud and 54.000 of them for harassment of bullying, among others.

The majority of the sanctions enforced were either temporary suspensions of the accounts, removal of content that violates the community guidelines or both.

Most certainly, temporary suspension of accounts is not what most users would expect, especially as there are cases that clearly call for a permanent sanction. Yet, the fact that Xbox published such a detailed and transparent report, shows Microsoft’s commitment to its community.

Additionally, it sheds a light on how large the numbers are when it comes to complaints and the measures taken to tackle them in an online gaming context.

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As a matter of fact, it’s extremely valuable that Microsoft is taking proactive measures even before someone reports the infringing player’s account. This in turn translates into a lower number of reports.

Without going any further, the Xbox player base has not stopped growing. Phil Spencer himself explained that Xbox Game Pass subscription service is profitable. Nevertheless, the number of complaints in the period of the Transparency Report had a 36% decrease compared to the last half of 2021.

The total amount of complaints is 33.07 million (as opposed to 42,83 million of the previous period) and most of them are related to poor sportsmanship (such as cheating or losing intentionally), or to communication (insulting).

The Transparency Report yields really interesting stats, yet Microsoft is not the only company taking action to enhance the gaming experience.

Electronic Arts EA did not publish numbers, though it is very open when it comes to showing the measures taken in this regard, in providing its community with the tools to report these conducts and where to turn to.

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In mid-2020, EA published the Positive Play Charter document, a summary of the guidelines that govern the communities of its games, and a series of recommendations (as Dos and Don'ts) on how to behave when playing "FIFA," "Apex" or other of the publisher's games. In fact, the company is also very clear about the sanctions that players have to face should they exhibit toxic sportsmanship.

Similarly, Electronic Arts prides itself on its commitment to inclusivity, ethnic and gender representation. To wit, "The Sims 4" added pronoun customization earlier this year, as if its character editor wasn't already inclusive enough; and "Apex" has been recognized on more than one occasion as one of the most diverse titles in terms of the character roster.

The latter game also includes the so-called Ping System, which allows communication during games without the need for text or voice chat, allowing those who do not want to expose themselves verbally to do so.

And we say "exposed" because in a recent campaign by Women in Games Argentina, called Switch Voices, it was demonstrated that women cannot participate in games with "open microphone" because, when the rest of the players hear a female voice, it’s impossible for them to play.

As a way to raise awareness on this issue, the campaign put three professional male gamers to play with a female voice modulator to experience firsthand what women feel every time they try to play a game.

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The result was as expected: players significantly lowered their winning average and declared it "impossible" to play under these conditions. The video of the campaign is available with CC in English.

Women in Games Initiative is, most definitely, bolder than those of any other company. After all, we are dealing with a group with a strong feminist and activist side.

However, all these actors join their efforts to make gaming a healthier, more inclusive and positive space, especially for women, dissidents, minors who could be exposed to grooming and other groups that are often subject to harassment.

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