Microsoft's new policy to combat toxic Xbox gamers is '8 strikes and you're out'

New 'enforcement strike system' has come into play, and you'll receive temporary suspensions for a few strikes, but a year-long ban if you reach 8.

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Microsoft has introduced a new system to deal with Xbox cheaters and toxic players which, after enough strikes for an offender have been racked up, will ban them for a year.

The 'enforcement strike system' ratchets up penalties for offenders as they are reported for violating Microsoft's community standards, assuming those reports are verified and turn into a strike. (All reports are scrutinized by the Xbox Safety Team as to whether they are genuine complaints that should be upheld).

The way it works is that one strike doesn't come with any punishment, but the second strike given entails a one-day suspension. Reach four strikes, and that's a week-long suspension.

Hit the full tally of strikes, which is eight, and Microsoft explains that the offender will be suspended from social features (messaging, party chat) and multiplayer for a period of a year. So yes, the eventual result is a lengthy ban indeed which is really going to sting.

When banned as such, you can, however, still access single-player games and any purchased content, you're just barred from social and multiplayer as noted. Although that said, for the most serious violations - such as doing something illegal - there may be a permanent ban for the account which would completely shut it down, all purchases included.

You may be wondering how long a strike stays on your record, and as Microsoft further explains, it'll stick around for six months.

An example timeline of a fictional gamer's strike history (Image Credit: Microsoft)

An example timeline of a fictional gamer's strike history (Image Credit: Microsoft)

This new scheme of things is in effect now, so doubtless the first strikes have already been recorded (and no doubt the first suspension by now).

In your enforcement history, you'll be able to see a clear tally of how many strikes you have, as well as the reasons for those strikes.

As was the case previously, if you feel a strike has been unfairly awarded against you, there is an appeal process to go through where you can defend yourself. If the appeal is successful, the strike will be removed.

Microsoft believes that receiving a temporary suspension curtails offensive and toxic behavior, or other unpleasantness, pretty effectively.

The company shared statistics from 2022 indicating that throughout the whole year, less than 1% of Xbox gamers were suspended, and after they were, only a third of those players reoffended and received another suspension.

That's a pretty clear indication that the policy works, and obviously Microsoft is hoping that as the strikes accumulate, and a toxic player of one kind or another approaches the level of that year-long ban, they might reform their conduct online. Here's hoping.

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Darren has written for numerous magazines and websites in the technology world for almost 30 years, including TechRadar, PC Gamer, Eurogamer, Computeractive, and many more. He worked on his first magazine (PC Home) long before Google and most of the rest of the web existed. In his spare time, he can be found gaming, going to the gym, and writing books (his debut novel – ‘I Know What You Did Last Supper’ – was published by Hachette UK in 2013).

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