Saturday, September 30, 2023

The first-ever Xbox transparency report reveals a spate of bot bans

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If you’ve been dealing with a spate of fake Xbox Live accounts lately, you’re far from alone. Microsoft has published the first-ever Xbox transparency report, and it’s now clear the company is banning or otherwise addressing bots. The company says it took more than 4.33 million “proactive enforcement actions” (that is, taking action without user reports) against fake and compromised accounts in the first half of 2022. That represented 57 percent of enforcement actions during the six-month period, and a nine-fold increase in proactive efforts compared to the same period a year ago.

Microsoft previously spent most of its energy on “reactive” enforcement (responses to gamer reports) and took fewer actions overall. The company issued 2.24 million reactive enforcement actions in the second half of 2021 and only 461,000 proactive actions. Other violations were relatively rare. Adult content led to only 199,000 proactive enforcement actions, while fraud, harassment, and other abuse led to fewer than 100,000 actions each.

Unsurprisingly, most of Microsoft’s 33.08 million user-induced repressions have targeted toxic players. Enforcement was equally dominated by reports of cheating and other misconduct (43 percent) and abusive communications (46 percent). Only 11 percent of enforcement actions were linked to user-generated content, such as offensive nicknames and screenshots. Thankfully, incidents seem to be down overall – Microsoft received 59.65 million reports in the last half of 2020.

Don’t count on winning an appeal if you think Microsoft made a mistake. Of the more than 151,000 appeals filed during the period, only six percent (about 9,250) resulted in reassignment.

From now on, you can expect a new Xbox Transparency Report every six months. There don’t seem to be any equivalent reports for Nintendo’s and Sony’s equivalent online services. Still, this might be good news if you’ve been wondering about Xbox Live’s problem areas and whether or not Microsoft takes bots seriously.

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