Blizzard has always had a tight stance against cheaters, of course, however with the recent surge in popularity that 3rd party analysis software has experienced, Blizzard has now re-affirmed that such things are in fact in violation of their T&Cs.
With programs like Pursuit and Visor promising to improve players skills not by aimbotting, but rather by giving advice on how or when to use skills, for example, it’s easy to see that these programs are treading a fine line. They’re not cheating per se – the game is not being manipulated, the player still aims and shoots and acts all by themselves, while the software analyses how they could do better.
It’s difficult to say whether the use of this type of software is, in fact, wrong or not. It’s not massively different from having a coach or trainer, which is of course allowed, and it doesn’t alter the game or provide an unfair advantage either (though opponents may or may not feel that way!). This hasn’t stopped Blizzard from taking a very clear stance on the matter though – it’s forbidden.
Any 3rd party application that offers any information such as ‘enemy position, enemy health, enemy ability usage or Ulti readiness’ is, according to Blizzard creating ‘an uneven playing field for every other player on the map’. They’re not wrong of course, though the use of AI to analyse mistakes doesn’t necessarily provide information about the enemy team directly – an even finer line to walk on.
Fans of tools like Visor and Pursuit have complained – while Visor provides real-time feedback, Pursuit doesn’t. It only provides info and suggestions after the match has concluded, thus giving no immediate advantage. The whole thing is a little awkward: Pursuit is sponsoring several Overwatch World Cup teams and is directly partnered with Philadelphia Fusion.
This very clear move may just bring an end to these collaborations unless it so happens that Blizzard makes an exception for Pursuit or allows users to use a modified and approved version of the program – it’s unlikely but certainly a possibility.
Warnings were already sent out to players using programs like the aforementioned Visor and Pursuit, informing them that they were violating the rules. For those that simply stop using them now, nothing should happen – those that persist and continue using them, however, have to expect punishments, which could lead up to and include a permanent suspension and ban from the game. Since it’s also against Blizzard’s T&Cs to own more than one account per person (though this is ignored quite a lot) this is quite a harsh punishment.
If you are using a tool like this, the best thing to do is to stop using it immediately. There is no guarantee you will get off scot-free, so you will have to rely on your own skills and your own intelligence for game analyses from now on – Community Manager Tom Powers said in the Blizzard forums that “We take competition very seriously in Overwatch. The foundation of good competition is every player being equally-equipped to compete against one another, but many third-party applications erode the level playing field in Overwatch we strive for.”
Those are quite strong words, but nevertheless, they shouldn’t be ignored – it’d be a shame to risk your Overwatch account for something as simple as a little help to skill up. Practice will achieve the same effect unless you are truly hopeless…and if so, neither Visor nor Pursuit would be able to help you anyway!