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How Call of Duty: Black Ops - Cold War is fending off stream snipers

Call of Duty: Black Ops – Cold War went live today, and streamers have already found some built-in settings that should make their lives and jobs a little bit easier. Hidden deep in the advanced options are controls for hidden matchmaking timing and random usernames, making it much more difficult for griefers to stream snipe famous players in-game.

While these settings won't be of much use to the average Black Ops – Cold War player, stream sniping is a genuine problem for prominent content creators on Twitch and other platforms. For anyone who isn't aware of this advanced form of trolling, stream sniping is when someone viewing a live stream tries to get into the same match as the streamer. Once they are in the same game, the viewer can use the live stream to pinpoint the streamer's location. If they succeed in doing that, the potential to interrupt the stream is limitless.

Hidden matchmaking timing was an anti-stream sniping tactic first deployed by Fortnite much to the appreciation of major streamers like Ninja. This feature adds a random amount of delay to matchmaking after a player starts looking for a game. This helps fend off one of the most basic stream sniping tactics: queuing up matchmaking at the same time that a streamer does. In battle royale games such as Call of Duty: Warzone and Fortnite, timing matchmaking precisely is the best way of ending up in the same match as another player, and the hidden delay makes that much more difficult.

The other feature that Black Ops – Cold War has implemented is the ability to make usernames appear in-game as a randomly generated tag, similar to Streamer Mode in Warzone. It can also cause other users to appear with randomly generated tags, hiding everyone's identity in the match. By obscuring these names, it makes it much harder for stream snipers to both find the correct match and then identify the streamer they are trying to disrupt.

To locate these options, Black Ops – Cold War players should look in the Account & Networks menu and then navigate to the Content Filter options, where either setting can be turned on or off.

Streamer griefing and outright hacking have plagued the Call of Duty series for years. The problem got so bad that prominent Warzone streamer Shroud rage quit the game last summer after spectating a cheating player who was repeatedly landing shots on enemies who were concealed by cover. High profile streamers and their massive audiences help fuel popularity for titles like Black Ops – Cold War, and developers know it. It's nice to see Treyarch taking steps from the beginning to protect the community and reduce griefing.