Xbox boss Phil Spencer may like to present a friendly face, but his Xbox Live service is anything but. Rampant toxicity has been synonymous with XBL from the beginning, and during the latest episode of the New York Times’ Sway podcast, host Kara Swisher asked Spencer what he’d like to see done to clean things up. His answer was rather surprising and ambitious…
You know something I would love us to [...] be able to do -- this is a hard one as an industry -- is when someone get's banned in one of our networks is there a way for us to ban them across other networks. Or at least as a player, for me to be able to bring my banned user list because I can always block people from my [games]. I would love to be able bring them to other networks where I play, this is the group of people I choose not to play with because I don't want to have to recreate that on every platform that I play video games on.
When Spencer says “networks,” I assume he means individual games. Honestly, ban status carrying over from game to game and/or people being able to build their own block lists probably would help a lot with the toxicity problem. It would also probably set off an absolute firestorm, and thus, is unlikely to actually happen. That said, Spencer also proposed some more workable toxicity solutions, including better AI monitoring of audio chat, video, and images.
Areas where I think we need to continue to make progress, when I think about video and pictures and our ability to detect what's happening in a video conversation. We don't have as much of that, that happens on Xbox Live because it's not what it's about. But just as I think as an industry voice conversations and how do we monitor quickly? That's an investment that we have a lot of work going on right now.
What do you think? What could Xbox do to make online play slightly less soul-crushing? Or is toxicity just an inescapable part of letting people play online?