When Blizzard announced on Thursday that it was shutting down a number of its game accounts, some users immediately questioned the decision.
As it turns out, the company’s own internal metrics, and those of its developers, show that its decision to shutter the accounts was a good one.
While the shutdown didn’t entirely eradicate all traces of abuse on the service, the results showed that Blizzard’s account management system actually helped mitigate abuse in its early days.
For example, the number of accounts being monitored dropped from nearly 30,000 to just under 10,000 during the first half of 2018, according to a post from the company in the Blizzard community on December 1.
The company’s post explained that this decrease was due to an “initial surge in abuse” in the months before the shutdown.
But by the time the shutdown happened, abuse had already begun to decline.
In fact, a separate post in the same thread shows that the number and severity of abuse complaints on the site had decreased significantly by the end of 2018.
“While we’re aware that we may have missed some abuse incidents, we also want to be very clear that the early abuse spikes of the past few months were actually a very temporary phenomenon,” Blizzard wrote.
“In fact the majority of these complaints were reported in the first few days after the shutdown.”
Blizzard’s report also shows that abuse complaints decreased significantly from January to February of 2019, with the largest decrease being in the weeks leading up to BlizzCon, when there were a total of 6,971 complaints.
By the end, the report shows that at least 9,723 of the 6,097 complaints were related to “abuse and harassment,” and only about 50 percent of those were related “gaming related.”
That’s an important statistic to note, because it suggests that even after the initial spike in abuse complaints, the vast majority of abuse cases on the Blizzard site were actually directed at gamers.
Blizzard also explained that abuse cases declined substantially as the company began to use technology to limit abuse and to monitor the site.
The post said that “the abuse mitigation tool, in conjunction with a comprehensive system of anti-abuse metrics and reports, significantly mitigated abuse, with an average reduction of over 50 percent in the abuse cases monitored by the system during the period.”
“It is important to note that these numbers are for the period between January and February, when the abuse mitigation tools were in place,” the post said.
“We can’t tell you how long the abuse reduction would have continued, because the abuse metrics are not publicly available.”
BlizzCon, the game-focused annual convention held in Anaheim, California, is an important part of Blizzard’s annual revenue streams, and is often the site where the company can announce new content and new game updates.
While it’s unclear exactly how many of those complaints were caused by players abusing the platform, the numbers do suggest that the company is making progress on reducing abuse.
If Blizzard’s numbers are accurate, the first signs of this may be coming to light on the company blog.
In a post on November 25, Blizzard said that its “social abuse mitigation” system had been disabled and that all of the accounts affected had been removed from the service.
That followed a post that showed the number on the account system had dropped from over 10,200 in December 2018 to just over 7,000 on December 2.
The company did not provide a specific timeline for removing the accounts from its service, or any indication as to how long those accounts had been active.
However, a Blizzard rep told Polygon that the removal was temporary, and that the system had not been disabled for the past several months.
Blizz’s post said it had made a number, “very limited, changes” to the abuse detection system to make it “easier to detect abuse in our games,” but the company also said that it had also improved the moderation process on the platform to ensure that abuse was “solved quickly and decisively.”
“We have had very few instances of abuse,” Blizzard’s post continued.
“But the majority were very severe, and our moderation process has improved significantly over the past year and a half.”
The post did not elaborate on the specifics of the measures that Blizzard had taken to combat abuse, or the steps it had taken in response to abuse complaints.
In a follow-up post, Blizzard reiterated its assertion that it has been working to reduce abuse on Blizzard.
“The company has taken significant steps to address abuse issues across its games over the last year and we are continuing to take action on a daily basis,” the company wrote.