Valve has clarified its statements about Artifact’s text chat and moderation, confirming to IGN that players will be able to turn off their opponent’s chat.
During PAX West, Valve revealed that Artifact would have global text chat, including with the random opponents you play against. The studio quickly came under fire when the development team’s Jeep Barnett and Richard Garfield didn’t speak to what sort of moderation that chat would have during an interview with GamesIndustry.biz.
But after I spoke with them at Valve’s Seattle office last week, it sounds like Artifact’s chat won’t be the Wild West initial reports have made it seem. Barnett told me his lack of hard details on moderation features stems from the fact that the Steam development team is making the chat system that Artifact will use, not the Artifact team directly.
“When I’m talking to somebody, I don’t want to commit to features that other people at the company are then going to have to do,” Barnett explained. “I don’t want to come back to the office and have a bunch of people yell at me like ‘why are you promising to have these things that we’re not planning on doing or are planning on doing?’”
If you don’t want to hear what other people are saying, you can turn them off.
That means that just because Barnett and Garfield didn’t offer any hard examples of how Artifact’s chat will be moderated during PAX doesn’t mean it won’t be at all. Valve’s Doug Lombardi also said that, from a philosophical standpoint, “giving people as many options as possible, both at launch and then after launch once we realize what people’s behaviors are, is always an approach that we’re going to want to take.”
That said, those responses don’t fully explain the similarly controversial comments Barnett made in the same interview about Valve’s perception that players generally aren’t toxic in one-on-one situations with no audience. That’s an idea many feel isn’t accurate, and angry Twitter DMs and other private messages clearly prove an audience isn’t always necessary to spark abuse.
Thankfully, even if you are faced with toxicity from your opponents in-game, that doesn’t mean you have to listen. Valve confirmed to me that you will be able to turn off Artifact’s chat in some capacity. “If you don’t want to hear what other people are saying, you can turn them off,” Barnett said.
Knowing that option is there alleviates a large portion of my concerns, as it means the chat system won’t be forced upon unwilling players with no escape. And while we still don’t know exactly what sort of moderation Artifact will have, we shouldn’t necessarily interpret that as “none.”
We’ve reached out to Valve to ask the Steam development team directly about its moderation plans and will update this story with their response.
For more on Artifact, we played through its newly revealed Draft mode with Magic: The Gathering creator Richard Garfield. You can also check out how Valve plans to keep its marketplace affordable, and how it’s very aware of all the ‘Valve’ jokes people make.
Tom Marks is IGN’s PC Editor and pie maker. You can follow him on Twitter.