Blizzard Entertainment’s online hero shooter “Overwatch” is a team game, but some people are reluctant to join up with others, especially in competitive play. Getting curb stomped by a coordinated team when you’re a solo player stuck with randos who refuse to gel is not fun (yes, I’m talking from experience). So, with a new Looking For Group feature on the horizon, “Overwatch” developer Scott Mercer is busting some matchmaking myths over on the game’s forums.
“There are a lot of misconceptions about how grouping is handled by the matchmaker, as well as how grouping affects Skill Rating changes,” Mercer wrote in a lengthy post.
The most common misconception is that the competitive play system decreases a person’s Skill Rating (SR) gains and increases their SR losses when playing in a group, according to Mercer. “The simple answer here is that there’s no SR penalty based on your group status,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re solo, grouped with one other person, or in a full group of six.”
“We also do not artificially inflate the SR of the players in a group when finding matches,” he added. “There is simply no penalty at all for the purposes of calculating SR and matchmaking.”
There are many reasons why SR is gained or lost after a match that have nothing to do with grouping, Mercer explained. New accounts or formerly inactive accounts will see larger SR swings both upwards and downwards. “This settles back to normal as you play additional games,” he said.
“Overwatch’s” matchmaking system is designed to try and create matches with equivalent-sized groups, especially for solo players, and Mercer believes it’s doing a pretty decent job. “We believe that games with equivalent groups create the fairest possible experience, and fair games create the best chance of players having a fun experience,” he said. “When the matchmaker does compromise, it’s usually during off-hours when there aren’t as many available players, as well as at the lowest and highest extremes of SR.”
But, he added there are limits to how much Blizzard compromises.
“Several months back we implemented a restriction that prevents the matchmaker from creating games that are severely one-sided,” Mercer said. “Whenever it wants to make a game, it calculates an expected win percentage for each team based on the SR of all the players. If one of the teams doesn’t have at least a predicted 40% win rate, then we simply don’t create the game. Even if you do end up in game where your predicted win rate is close to 40%, it’s important to remember that it also means that your SR will drop less when you lose, and you will gain more SR if you win.”
Mercer ended his post with a bit of wisdom for “Overwatch” players. “Don’t worry too much about SR. Have fun, play to learn and improve, and your SR will rise over time. Playing games with other people is pretty awesome. The LFG tool helps make this happen, so give it a try. Be good to one another. Life’s too short.”