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Overwatch 2 Sets Its Sights On Stream Snipers

"Overwatch 2" has had a bit of a rough start since it launched back in October 2022, and going into the new year, fans wait in anticipation for further updates. There have already been a lot of updates to "Overwatch 2," many of which were focused on security, accessibility, and player quality of life — like soon after its release when Blizzard removed the requirement for players to link a phone number. Now, a new security update for "Overwatch 2" targets a more specific group of players, whose ability to play the game is integral to their career: streamers.

Over the years, particularly determined viewers have figured out ways to disrupt streamers thanks to information about online sessions being unintentionally broadcast. In most contexts, this is called stream sniping, when a streamer gets targeted in a game because a viewer found them, won't leave them alone, and come armed with knowledge of their whereabouts (via stream). It's a problem that ultimately affects few players, but it can be an enormous issue for high-end esports players who literally can't afford to get their game thrown off — or who don't want to be harassed. Even Ninja, the once-king of "Fortnite" streamers, nearly quit the game because of stream sniping.

As part of a larger security update, called the Defense Matrix Update, Blizzard Entertainment plans to enact a set of measures that target — and hopefully curb — stream sniping methods directly. In a post from February 1, 2023, the company detailed what these new features are and how they can help streamers.

A new suite of options aims to eliminate stream sniping

The Defense Matrix Initiative is an internal ongoing effort to increase the game's security and decrease disruptive behavior. The February 2022 Defense Matrix update goes over four new key changes coming to "Overwatch 2": disruptive voice chat recognition, better custom game list moderation, bans for grouping with cheaters, and of course measures to curb stream sniping. Starting with Season 3 of "Overwatch 2," these new streaming protection features should take effect.

The first feature Blizzard describes is a new option for players to turn off their BattleTag in-game, as well as the BattleTags of other players in the lobby. "This will prevent those who may be watching that player's live stream from identifying if they're in the same lobby," Blizzard said. This option doesn't turn it off for every player, rather just for the streamer's own client. Another new feature is the ability to hide the remaining queue time from viewers, as well as the ability to delay the actual start of the queue by a random amount. This makes it much harder for viewers to queue at the exact same time as a streamer. Replay Codes can be hidden with this update, too.

Blizzard admits that this isn't an easy problem to solve, but it believes that these new measures will be "a huge step toward enabling content creators to share "Overwatch 2" with their fans safely." Time will tell if these measures actually curb stream snipers, or if they will find a way to cause disruption on a whole new level.