Microsoft's Xbox team has a plan to fight toxic gamers

The company says it wants to make sure "gaming remains fun" and will fight abuse quickly.

Ian Sherr Former Editor at Large / News
Ian Sherr (he/him/his) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so he's always had a connection to the tech world. At CNET, he wrote about Apple, Microsoft, VR, video games and internet troubles. Aside from writing, he tinkers with tech at home, is a longtime fencer -- the kind with swords -- and began woodworking during the pandemic.
Ian Sherr
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Microsoft Xbox group is one of the largest game makers in the world.

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Microsoft has a saying in its Xbox division: "Gaming for Everyone." Now, it's pushing harder to follow through.

The gaming giant is planning to create "new content moderation experiences" for its Xbox Live gaming social network by year's end.  Microsoft  didn't offer examples, but the new tools could include filters to scrub words you personally find offensive from chats with other players. 


Phil Spencer has headed the Xbox team since 2014.

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"We're innovating now in these and other concrete ways to reduce, filter, and develop a shared understanding of toxic experiences, and to ultimately put our community of gamers, and their parents or guardians, in control of their own experiences," Xbox head Phil Spencer said in blog post Monday. "We believe in equipping you with the tools to customize your gaming experience fit for your personal comfort level."

The move is just the latest in Microsoft's efforts to encourage better behavior among the 63 million people who use its Xbox Live social gaming network. That's despite pushback from some gamers, who disagree that harassment and trolling should be moderated or are bad enough to merit tougher enforcement.

Last month, Microsoft released Community Standards for Xbox, a set of rules published on its site that it called a "roadmap for contributing to this incredible, globe-spanning community." One topic addressed is what players can't say to other players, including racial and homophobic slurs. 

Watch this: Xbox has become the voice of consumers at Microsoft

The company has also launched a "For Everyone" page on its website, where parents can learn about how safety and family settings work on its console. That includes making it easier for parents to create "child" and "teen" accounts that have stricter safety settings like limiting the types of games they can access and how long they can play.

The Xbox team has also helped bolster the positive end, offering support to gamers with disabilities through a special peripheral, the $99 Xbox Adaptive Controller, released last year.

Microsoft isn't the only company increasingly turning its attention to its community. Sony and Nintendo both have robust parental controls for their respective PlayStation and Switch consoles , and both have worked to contain bad behavior on their online services. 

Spencer said Monday that despite the gaming industry's far reach and massive size -- currently over $100 billion in global sales -- it has to contend with the "growing toxic stew of hate speech, bigotry and misogyny" on the internet. 

"No one group 'owns' gaming," he added, and his team wants to make sure their diverse community feels welcome. "We commit to be vigilant, proactive, and swift."

Originally published May 20 at 9 a.m. PT.