Electronic Arts’ Chief Marketing Officer Chris Bruzzo had a lot to say about toxicity in his company’s game in an interview with GamesIndustry.biz. Most of it reads like the usual platitudes a game company puts forth at times when there’s a focus on toxicity in games and other cultural venues: We don’t accept it, we’re working hard to combat it, etc. I won’t be too cynical because, honestly, I can’t remember the last time I faced hardcore toxicity in a game — though maybe that’s because I’m male. I know it’s still an issue for others, but it’s possible that whatever measures EA, and other companies, are taking, are working in a manner that’s not entirely visible to players and at least cutting down on the number of incidents.
What I will focus on are Bruzzo’s comments regarding Apex Legends, especially its ping system. At the time of its launch, we theorized that the reason the system was in place was to allow players to communicate in a way that doesn’t include voice chat, and the issues that often come with that. He said that Respawn specifically designed the system “to eliminate opportunity for toxicity.” All the interaction options, from the ping system to the conversation wheel “makes the game fun and feel very social, with lots of interactions, but no toxicity.”
Bruzzo thinks that’s correlated to better performance for the battle royale title. He mentioned that Apex has “excellent retention” and that’s due to not only the quality of the game itself but “how positive the community is based on some really strong feature decisions that Respawn made.” The ping system, or a variation thereof, has since been adopted by many other games, probably more for its in-game utility than its tendency to cut down on toxicity, but that might be a beneficial side effect.