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Riot Games will listen in on your voice chats. Here's why it doesn't matter

Maybe they're already on their best behavior? Developer Riot Games will soon be listening in on the voice chats of Valorant players, the company announced recently -- and most people are a-okay about that. 

Starting July 13, Riot will launch a “voice evaluation system” and record in -game voice chats whenever a disruptive behavior report is submitted by players. Riot says this will help to train its language model to identify disruptive behavior, and states the voice evaluation will not be used in the reports themselves. They know that “false positives [and negatives]” can happen, Riot admits.

Cracking down on disruption

Right now, the developer is focused on making its tech the best that it can be before it launches the official beta later this year. The new system will record only North American players, and only those speaking English. TechRadar has asked Riot if the beta has an exact launch date and if it plans on rolling out the evaluation system internationally, but we didn’t immediately hear back from them.

The voice evaluation system comes as Riot Games is hammering down on disruptive behavior in Valorant. The company updated its Terms of Service back in April 2021 which now states Riot has the ability to “record and evaluate voice comms when a report for disruptive behavior is submitted.” So if you agreed to the Terms of Service, you are subject to being recorded.

Riot Games also published a report in early February 2022 about its efforts to combat “chat toxicity.” Reading through the report, it appears that Valorant has a problem with players engaging in offensive language and harassing others. The developer states it actively tracks player-submitted reports to then deal appropriate punishments to rule breakers. This voice evaluation system is Riot taking another step toward weeding out harassers -- with the goal to establish a positive community. 

Middling player response

The response from players has been quite surprising. You’d think a game developer openly admitting that it will record players, even if it’s to fight harassment, would elicit a bigger negative response. But that wasn’t the case.

In comments made on social media and forums, most Valorant players either don’t care about Riot listening in on them or are quite happy with the changes. For those who don’t care, many say that they use private Discord calls or other apps whenever they play with friends so this news doesn’t affect them. (Riot can't record people on other platforms.)

The players who are happy point out that people are too comfortable dropping pejoratives in the voice chat. A commenter on the Valorant subreddit said they hope the system works because they often deal with racism thrown by other players, and how frustrating it all is.

Some players were skeptical of Riot’s move, however. They’re concerned about their privacy and point out that the developer is owned by Chinese conglomerate Tencent. One commenter implied that Tencent would utilize recordings for some kind of nefarious purpose -- something a verified Riot developer tried to quell by claiming no data will be shared and it’s all about making the game “a more pleasant experience.”

If you’re interested in Valorant, TechRadar recently broke down why players find the game so fun.

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