Early Xbox One details are still being released day by day and today Microsoft decided to go over a particularly interesting and potentially controversial matter. It deals with the Xbox One's ingrained "Reputation System" and what effects it will have, if any, on game matchmaking. Here's the summary: Xbox One will assign one of three ranks to gamers based on behavior, green, yellow and red, and player's marked red will only be matchmade with other red players.
Getting into the red, "Avoid Me," category won't be easy. Microsoft goes out of its way to assure gamers that yellow, "Needs Improvement," players will receive buckets of warnings as their reputation drops. Once you're in the red, however, you'll have to prove you've made the grade by playing a number of games with other red players without receiving a "legitimate complaint." AFKing for a few months won't cut it.
What exactly is the difference between a green, "Good Player," and a yellow or red one, then? Firstly, if you're asking that question you might have a problem. Secondly, Microsoft has a very in-depth and complicated system vetted by a Microsoft Research PHD that takes multiple aspects of feedback into account. Times muted or blocked, or straight up reported, but also who is reporting you, in what quantity and to what degree the offense is. In theory, it sounds like Microsoft wants to ensure only those who truly deserve it end up in the red zone.
"The algorithm is sophisticated and won’t penalize you for a few bad reports. Even good players might receive a few player feedback reports each month and that is OK. The algorithm weighs the data collected so if a dozen people suddenly reporting a single user, the system will look at a variety of factors before docking their reputation. We’ll verify if those people actually played in an online game with the person reported – if not, all of those player’s feedback won’t matter as much as a single person who spent 15 minutes playing with the reported person. The system also looks at the reputation of the person reporting and the alleged offender, frequency of reports from a single user and a number of other factors."
Ultimately, Microsoft says, it will be up to players and developers to what degree matchmaking will pair them with similarly rated players, though red stays with red. How that actually works in practice seems rather unclear. Still, the goal is to ensure good players don't have to deal with game-ruining toxicity from other players.
Currently Microsoft's Xbox 360 reputations system (the stars, remember?) tries to pair players with similarly rated players. Those who have used the system know it's broken and exploitable, however. It sounds like Microsoft has an admirable plan for the Xbox One, but yet again we have to worry if handing over control to a single party is in the consumer's best interest. Let's hope none of us never get hacked and our account falls into the red zone. You might die before getting good customer service.
Hopefully we'll hear more about the Xbox One's reputation system later this year prior to the console's launch in November.