Blizzard responds about matchmaking in Overwatch • NG

Yesterday streamers Eskay and Jay3 interviewed systems designer Gavin Winters and software engineer Morgan Madden about how matchmaking works in Overwatch 2; this topic has been quite controversial lately due to the uproar on social media about whether the system is unfair or fair (“What does a platinum do in my grandmaster game?” and the like)

Is there a queue of winners and losers?

“No […] there is only one queue,” they explained. Not intentionally, they work so that this does not happen. What happens is that sometimes the algorithm (the program) is not able to update itself fast enough. They stated that they are looking into it and that they want to reduce the long streaks.

range decay

From the fourth season, the following, there will be no rank decay, they say, but the MMR, the value they use to rank us in the games, will decline. What this means is that, internally, the ability that Blizzard thinks you have will decay, but not the range you had. If you return after one year and continue to earn, you will retain the rank you had before you left the game.

What is range inflation?

Inflation occurs when people who should belong to a lower rank are instead assigned to a higher one; when there are a lot of people, in general. In the third season they fixed a bug that put people in a worse range than their share, the opposite of inflation, deflation. There is another bug, however, that will be fixed in Season 4: above Grandmaster (GM) 3 there is inflation, and they are going to work on fixing it.

Ranks in Overwatch 2
Overwatch 2’s rank system. GM is pretty much the top 1%.

Do you think that the requirement to be a GM is lower nowadays?

The reality is that there are more GMs today because there is a much larger population playing Overwatch, so proportionally there are more GMs. Gavin and Morgan don’t think it’s a good idea to compare the first game to the second due to the big changes that have occurred; For example, since there is now only one tank, they claim that the people with the best aim have now ranked up, since there are not as many shields in the game. Although, of course, others now play a little worse for other reasons. In a way, the skills required to play the second part are different from the first, and it wouldn’t be fair to compare them. It’s like comparing churras and merinos, as we would say around here.

Why are there people who are, say, gold, who when they go to Overwatch 2 are suddenly master rank? Is this on purpose?

Blizzard says this is not true, there is no system arbitrarily rank up; if someone has risen so fast it is very likely that they have simply improved and perhaps they are not aware of it and think that they have to be in a lower range. This, I personally add, is part of what is known as the Dunning-Kruger effect, people with less ability tend to think that they are better and those with more, that they are worse.

What is the team’s philosophy regarding wait times vs. most even games?

Well, the developers tell us that, in reality, there is no improvement in quality with longer waits; It is something that affects teams of people more; however, it is the case for GMs because there are so few of them.

Is it possible to have a perfect matchmaking?

Morgan explains that this is divided into different parts: before the game, we can get pretty close to it. For example, about 30% of games have what the algorithm considers a “perfect matchup”, about a sixth are pretty bad (mainly referring to those that occur during the early hours, queuing with teams, in the regions with few people like Oceania, etc.); However, about a fifth to a sixth of theoretically perfect games are one-sided, one team always looking like it has the advantage. And this is what Morgan is talking about: yes, a priori the games may seem balanced, but when one is already in the game there are a thousand reasons that can cause them to feel unilateral: perhaps someone has taken a character that is not given to them ok, maybe someone has a character that doesn’t fit the map, maybe someone is tired that day, etc., etc., and this second part of creating perfect games is barely researched and cannot be implemented in the algorithm as is. In general, not just at Blizzard, it seems like an open question for science. Morgan seemed excited and interested in the subject, but I’m afraid we were left with more questions than answers.

Why isn’t there a finder group (LFG) anymore?

In Overwatch 1 the LFG had “social issues” that they could never fix, and coming to Overwatch 2, since they had to redo the interface components, which is very expensive, they decided not to do them for this system; They intend to bring it back later, but not at the moment.

Why is the range no longer an exact number?

The developers claim that the outcome of a match is not as consequential as people think, and that they want to encourage players to think more about how to improve after a session rather than obsessing over how MMR changes. which Blizzard doesn’t teach) after each game. They are working to, in the near future, give us better feedback per session; It takes many, many games for a matchmaking algorithm to converge and give us good information, and they don’t want us to crave for a single piece of information. However, according to Gavin, the MMR and rank we have will be very very close, almost the same, starting next season. And, I say, as an engineer, I understand that the amount of data needed to make this work makes sense; yes, as a person of flesh and blood, I can not help but think about the show like everyone else. And maybe they and my freshman statistics teacher are right, but boy, there’s something about the “want to know” thing that drives us crazy. Anyway, they also stated that in the following season we will see the rank average while loading the games.

What happened to the card system at the end of a match in Overwatch 1? And the system “on fire”?

In the same way that the LFG has not been able to return because redoing an interface is very expensive, with these two systems it is the same. Blizzard says they’re working on redoing them and bringing us something a bit better later, but for now it stays that way. They also commented that while the card system was initially quite appealing, over time people stopped paying attention to it and simply skipped the end of game screen.


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