Xbox Rolls Out New Strike System To Keep Toxic Gamers In Check

Online gaming has come a long way over the last quarter century, but one thing has remained fairly constant — the absolute toxicity of its lobbies. Despite the best efforts of the companies responsible for ensuring everyone has an okay time, an online game can still be a pit of cheating, harassment, hate speech, and bullying. In an attempt to finally clean up the sewer that is online multiplayer, Xbox is launching a new moderation system based on how many countries handle driving offenses. From August 15, 2023, confirmed breaches of the rules will result in strikes being added to an account. These strikes vary in severity, and all add up. So next time someone you've killed repeatedly in COD decides to slide into your DMs and make some fairly horrific accusations about your mother — you should have some actual recourse.

Ban lengths increase with the number of strikes on an account, culminating in a one-year ban if someone amasses a total of eight. Strikes also have an expiry date and will be removed from an account after six months. Any sanctions or bans currently underway will still need to be served, but aside from that everyone starts with a clean slate.

Some offenses are worse than others

As mentioned, the new system is roughly based on how many places handle driving offenses. That extends to ranking offenses by severity. Just as doing six miles per hour over the speed limit on the throughway isn't the same as downing a bottle of vodka and blasting through every red light in the city center — uttering a curse word isn't as bad as passionately advocating genocide. 

So, from the information Xbox has provided, "profanity" and presumably minor cheating could net you a single strike, sexual harassment and bullying could lead to two strikes, and a single hate speech incident could result in three strikes. The first two strikes will each result in a one-day ban, with the third carrying a three-day ban. The bans get more severe from there, four strikes on your account will incur a week-long ban, two weeks for five strikes, and six results in a three-week ban. Finally, the seventh strike will see you banned from online play for 60 days, and an eighth strike means a year away. 

Bans aren't automatic, and an Xbox staff member reviews each incident before a ban is applied. This is a double-edged sword. Human oversight takes time, and during this time offenses could stack up. Three major incidents in a short window of time could, rightly or wrongly, see an account instantly banned for a year. Add to that, we only have a partial list, so who knows how some of the more obscure rule violations will be managed.