For the last few months, Microsoft has been saying that the new reputation system being used with the upcoming Xbox One console will cut down on the number of crap-talking tools that have historically kept some gamers away from taking advantage of online multiplayer games. Now the company is explicitly marketing the Xbox One as a “No Jerks” experience.
“Are cheats and jerks ruining your multiplayer experiences?” reads the a blurb under the heading of “No Jerks” on the Xbox One site. “An extensive new reputation system helps keep annoying players out of your games.”
In terms of how it actually works, the reputation system will use various forms of feedback, including abuse reports from other games, to publicly indicate whether a player is “good,” “needs improvement” or should be avoided. The theory is that you’ll know someone is a jerk before you agree to play against or alongside them, thus eliminating the surprise when that person shoots you in the back of the head repeatedly while insulting your grandmother.
“The algorithm is sophisticated and won’t penalize you for a few bad reports,” a Microsoft rep told Polygon back in July. “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.”
“Jerks give each other high ratings and report quiet players,” points out one skeptical reader.
And there may be something to that. If there is something the Internet age has taught us, it’s that some people really love figuring out how to game the system by messing around with algorithms. There will certainly be users trying to suss out the best way to improve their rating while hurting the scores of others. Whether they are successful remains to be seen, but some will make the attempt.