Conan Exiles Struggles With Unmoderated Griefing And Racism

Conan Exiles officially launched last month, and was playable in early access for more than a year before that. Unfortunately, the game still contains no means of reporting other players for griefing, abuse or racism.

It's a common question asked on Conan Exiles' forums, Steam discussion page and subreddit: "How do you report a player for harassment?" A couple of weeks ago, a Funcom customer support rep finally provided a definitive answer.

"Lately we have been receiving reports of harassment in Conan Exiles," they said in a post on the game's forums.

"Unfortunately it is not possible to provide in-game moderation across the thousands of Conan Exiles servers we have operating at the moment. We apologise for being unable to assist you in-game. If you find a player being toxic in chat you can mute them from the Player List. If the behaviour of other players continues to be a persistent issue you may want to consider playing on another server."

They also noted that renting your own server is an option.

In other words: If somebody's giving you trouble, it's on you to handle it.

"For 2 weeks now we have had to deal with a racist clan in official server #1655," one player wrote on the game's Steam forums last week, pointing to repeated, violent uses of the N-word in player names, clan names and chat interactions. "It is absolutely ridiculous they are allowed to do this without punishment."

Racist griefers are enough of a problem on their own - as much as Conan The Barbarian's mystical Hyborian Age is said to be a time of chaos, lawlessness, and meaty man mountains crashing into each other, I don't think modern-day racist slurs and harassment really fit with the fiction.

Bad player behaviour also manifests as building spam, a separate issue that has also led to frustration with Conan's lack of available anti-harassment and reporting options.

"Currently I'm playing on the official server #1038 Pve-Conflict and there are a clan of 2 players who are placing walls all over the map to block access to many areas," said another player on the game's official forums. "They know there are [sic] not moderation, so they continue to do it."

Without an official way to deal with griefers, some players have decided to take matters into their own hands, often in ways Funcom probably didn't intend. There have been instances of naming and shaming particular servers and, in cases where those servers are player-run, their admins.

Other players have, at various points, expressed concern that this kind of retaliation has resulted in a witch-hunt mentality.

An example of a structure being used to block a key pathway. Image: megamadmax84

"Funcom provides over one thousand official servers as a free service to players, but as with many games similar to Conan Exiles we do not offer 'MMO type' game master support on these," community and PR director Natascha Röösli said in an email to Kotaku.

"We're also working on adding new functionality such as a whitelisting system so you can control who gets to join your server, tackling building spam and land claim harassment, and adding other features to discourage griefing."

So building spam and other similar kinds of griefing are thankfully on the way out, but it still puts moderation in the hands of those running their own servers without giving players a means to report players on official servers.

Private servers are unreliable in other ways, too: They might experience long, unexplained periods of downtime or just up and stop existing one day. It all depends on who's in charge and how dedicated they are.

As Röösli pointed out, ruling over a thousand 40-player official servers with an iron fist would require quite a few iron fingers. At the same time, Conan Exiles and survival games like it verge into MMO territory with their free-form exploration and encouraged player interaction. That means more opportunities for griefers and harassers to ruin the experience, which I can't imagine the people responsible for the game want.

And even if that weren't the case, some sort of reporting system still seems like a good idea. A thousand official servers is a lot, but plenty of far larger games such as Overwatch, League of Legends, and even fellow survival game Ark: Survival Evolved have reporting and moderation systems in place.

The longer Conan Exiles goes without moderation, the more damage is done. Unconstrained by consistent consequences for their actions, shitty communities tend to metastasise in this kind of environment.

When a developer comes out of the gate unprepared to deal with the internet's bountiful bouquet of bullies, it can lead to toxicity epidemics that require time-consuming emergency interventions from developers. Leaving things in the hands of players can cause many of the well-behaved ones to bail on the game entirely.

Already, some players have said that griefing and harassment are ruining Conan Exiles. Of those who have stayed, many have adopted a familiar cynicism around the issue.

"Welcome to online gaming," said one player in a thread about how Conan Exiles is in a bad spot. "This isn't a new thing and there is no real solution to it."


Comments

    Name a single survival game that isn't full of toxicity. Don't worry, I'll wait.

    People are toxic in survival games and water is wet. The whole idea of the genre is who has the most time on their hands to come up with ways to make other people's lives miserable, regardless of pvp or pve. That is not to excuse its issues, but you know what you are getting in advance with a survival game.

    [This comment has been edited to comply with our Community Guidelines.]

      I think the issue isn't that it exists it is that unlike other survival or MMO games, where there are at least token efforts to stop harassment in the ways of reporting tools or moderators.
      Funcom has come out and essentially said, we don't give a shit.

        Yeah it's lazy and lacks foresight that basic mod tools aren't there. I'm pretty sure other funcom titles all have reporting features, but correct me if I'm wrong.

        What other games? ARK and Rust, the two largest survival games do not. The amount of abuse and toxicity is insane. Just look at how many private ARK servers block Chinese ip addresses (its a lot). Minecraft, EFT, 7 Days to Die, Miscreated and the Forest do not.

        Mmo's do because they are games as a service with little to no private server options. Everyone is within a closed garden and thus there are systems in place to stop it from reflecting on the devs/publishers. Survival games don't do this, because it is in a round about way incentivised to happen; the more you troll a server the less people play on that server, the less people play on that server the lower the struggle for limited resources and also a lower chance of being raided.

        -
        On another note it is nice to know that criticism is not allowed to be levelled at article authors (no matter how benign it may be), I will keep that in mind in the future when there is an article I don't agree with.

          I can't speak for us but ARK most certainly does.

          Here's a link on how to.
          https://support.survivetheark.com/hc/en-us/articles/216605918-Reporting-Players-and-You

          What's this critism to authors? You have lost me now.

            It doesn't do anything, that is why servers still have China ip lockouts in effect and why when you join any official server there is still rampant slurs and toxicity.

            The side not was about my comment being moderated because I criticised the article author.

              where there are at least token efforts to stop harassment in the ways of reporting tools or moderators.
              You said they didn't, I provided a link.
              You try to make the argument that they don't do anything. I said that essentially in my original comment by calling them a token effort. I don't understand what point you are trying to make in relation to my comment.

                My point is that it doesn't do anything and that is par for the course for the genre. It isn't like Rust doesn't have a report feature either, its just that they are largely useless. It is all just a face value attempt to make it look like they are attempting to moderate their communities when they are not.

      Ah they are using the stream moderation techniques.

    Reporting harassment on official servers should be the minimin expectation of any game of this scale.
    It seems lazy it's not there.

    On the other note though, people need to have some of their own accountability. Mute people as soon as they begin saying anything you don't like. You don't need to run to some form of authority for every offense that comes your way. Be an adult.

    Playing on private servers with an active admin is the best option and the server usually has a stronger community.

    On a side note.. the world has changed in 20 years... in primary school there was the old 'sticks and stones' rhyme.. today every is like, 'you cant say that'..

    Choose not to be offended.. chose to be a care-free bear.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but there are no sub costs for this? Or DLC? Or lootboxes? Or microtransactions?

    Comparing it to Overwatch is particularly daft.

      I don't think there's any subcosts attached to it yet, no. It's just come out of beta, to full release. We'll see it getting paid DLC's soonish I imagine.

    Sooo this might be what to expect in Fallout 76?

      Probably, my guess is there will be an early attempt to moderate the official servers before they cave and there are a selection of family friendly servers and the rest are "for adults".

    Ark has a reporting system? Jeez, wouldn't know it... I love the game and all but it's seriously the most toxic game I've played on the official servers...

      Yeah it's an awful example.
      Why call for a reporting system to curb toxicity and griefing, then mention a game where a reporting system does nothing to stop toxicity and griefing.

        Played today for the first time in nine months or so. Got called every damn name under the sun by some dude in a power tribe because I simply walked within range of his turret.

        Conversely, playing Conan, I walked by a dozen people, they all greeted me, were friendly and a few were talking about how bullshit they thought this very article was lol. Go figure? Playing right now still, finding it kinda great tbh.

          thats usually the way things work though, new game communities are usually more friendly and welcoming compared to older game communities due to just having to put up with so much crap ( not trying to excuse it)

            Nah it's a good and true point. Ark has an ingrained nastiness on official servers now. People have an entitled, superior attitude on them to the people on unofficial. We who play unofficial are treated like second class citizens to those who play official for example, it's utterly stupid.

    As usual, losers ruin the fun for everyone else.

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