Proving yet again why they’re the premiere front runner for the title of ‘Worst Video Game Company Currently In Existence’, Activision Blizzard has announced that they will premiere a new AI-powered voice chat moderation system in their upcoming Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III.
The result of a partnership between the video game developer and Modulate, a “Boston-based startup using machine learning and AI technologies to create safer & more inclusive voice chat experiences”, the Call of Duty franchise’s new moderation system will use the latter company’s proprietary ToxMod technology “to deliver global real-time voice chat moderation, at-scale.”
“ToxMod, the AI-Powered voice chat moderation technology from Modulate, [can] identify in real-time and enforce against toxic speech—including hate speech, discriminatory language, harassment and more,” wrote Activision Blizzard in an August 30th blog post announcing the upcoming change to their online ecosystem. “This new development will bolster the ongoing moderation systems led by the Call of Duty anti-toxicity team, which includes text-based filtering across 14 languages for in-game text (chat and usernames) as well as a robust in-game player reporting system.”
Regarding the timeline for ToxMod’s implementation, Activision Blizzard informed confirmed that “An initial beta rollout of the voice chat moderation technology will begin in North America on August 30 inside the existing games, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II and Call of Duty: Warzone, to be followed by a full worldwide release (excluding Asia) timed to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III on November 10th.”
Describing the functionality of ToxMod on their official website, Modulate explains that the technology is “built on advanced machine learning technology and designed with player safety and privacy in mind, ToxMod triages voice chat to flag bad behavior, analyzes the nuances of each conversation to determine toxicity, and enables moderators to quickly respond to each incident by supplying relevant and accurate context.”
“First, ToxMod triages voice chat data to determine which conversations warrant investigation and analysis,” the company mapped out the AI’s thinking process. “Second, ToxMod analyzes the the tone, context, and perceived intention of those filtered conversations using its advanced machine learning processes. Third, ToxMod escalates the voice chats deemed most toxic, and empowers moderators to efficiently take actions to mitigate bad behavior and build healthier communities.”
This development is but the latest in the popular FPS’ franchise’s recent turn towards ‘cleaning up’ its player base’s behavior.
In November 2022, Activision Blizzard took the first steps towards “combating toxicity” by introducing a new “unified Code of Conduct” in an attempt “to promote a positive gaming experience for all.”
Composed of three “core values”, this Code asks players to “Treat everyone with respect,” “Compete with integrity,” and “Stay vigilant” in their use of “in-game tools to report any incidents or inappropriate behaviors you encounter”.
As for the effects this Code of Conduct has had in the months since, Activision Blizzard noted in their above blog post that “Since the launch of Modern Warfare II (2022), Call of Duty’s existing anti-toxicity moderation has restricted voice and/or text chat to over 1 million accounts detected to have violated the Call of Duty Code of Conduct. Consistently updated text and username filtering technology has established better real-time rejection of harmful language.”
“In examining the data focused on previously announced enforcement, 20% of players did not reoffend after receiving a first warning,” the publisher further detailed. “Those who did reoffend were met with account penalties, which include but are not limited to feature restrictions (such as voice and text chat bans) and temporary account restrictions. This positive impact aligns with our strategy to work with players in providing clear feedback for their behavior.”
As noted above, both Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III and the ToxMod system are currently set to sortie on November 10th.