As soon as a game starts, you're trapped in a den in one of the most toxic communities in recent memory. Players frequently disregard their roles. If even a minor mistake is made the nearby players will not hesitate to bash, demean, defame, or punish the person who made the mistake. This punishment will be repeatedly administered throughout the duration of the game regardless of apologies or knowledge of wrongdoing.
The second a game starts, there is a good chance one of the players will spam the voice-chat with unadulterated racism, classism, or something even more deplorable like screeching.
The mute feature is not sufficient to hold the griefing at bay. Players can find other ways to attack the mood of their team-mates. Things like standing nearby while they watch you get ganked when they have the ability to save you or hoarding neutral items or following you around and nuking creeps you're attempting to farm (especially if you're a core)
Additionally, the state of the mood in any given game can trend downwards with little chance of recovery even after the first toxic behavior is presented, so even if you mute a player after a first offense, this won't save you from having a totally negative experience with the game. The only way to assure neutrality is to mute 100% of the board at the beginning of each game.
The punishment for abandonment makes all of these things worse.
Abandonment gives a great deal of power to the players to mediate bad behavior amongst themselves. If unacceptable behavior presents itself, players should be allowed to immediately leave without "low priority" punishment, thus bringing down the win-rate (and overall incentive) of terrible behavior, because the chance of winning with a missing player on your team is significantly lower.
Consequently, players would be forced to behave better if they wish to keep a complete team for the duration of the match.
I think it is imperative that the punishment for abandonment be extremely minor. (such as the game counted as a loss for the abandoner, and nothing more)
As it stands right now, the report system is inadequate at identifying bad behaviors and punishing them adequately. As a consequence, abandoners are usually treated worse by the "low priority" system than people who, for example, scream the N-word in voice chat.
This is a breathtaking flaw in the mediation system.
Bad behavior should be much more punishable than abandonment.
If we remove the punishment for abandonment…
In the same way games like LittleBigPlanet were able to provide far more levels to the players than the developers could have developed alone, giving more agency back to the players to mediate the toxicity in the game will provide more game-wide mediation of toxic behavior than the developers can account for on their own.
I would like this post to be regarded as a formal petition to minimize punishment for abandoning games.
If nothing else, I think it would be an eye-opening experience to remove abandonment punishment in even one set of game modes (such as unranked.) I believe this would improve the overall experience with the game by a significant margin. This will be especially true for new players