Blizzard had initially programmed “avoid this player” into Overwatch to give people the chance to avoid any potential online harassment in-game. But according to Overwatch‘s game director, Jeff Kaplan, people began to use it for reasons beyond what they originally intended.
He went into specific detail on the game’s forums yesterday, explaining that players had used the “avoid this player” as a response to someone’s skill level, rather than behavior:
One of the best Widowmaker players in the world complained to us about long queue times. We looked into it and found that hundreds of other players had avoided him (he’s a nice guy – they avoided him because they did not want to play against him, not because of misbehavior). The end result was that it took him an extremely long time to find a match. The worst part was, by the time he finally got a match, he had been waiting so long that the system had “opened up” to lower skill players. Now one of the best Widowmaker players was facing off against players at a lower skill level. As a result, we’ve disabled the Avoid system (the UI will go away in an upcoming patch). The system was designed with the best intent. But the results were pretty disastrous.
Overall, this particular situation shows the development process that goes into Overwatch. The team took feedback directly from a prominent member of the community, and verified his situation using the statistics and data they had available to them, reaching a final group consensus. The rest of the post is worth a read, as Jeff goes into detail about the thought process that went into creating the Overwatch matchmaker a smoothly run operation.
Overwatch is available now for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.