Director’s Take – Looking to the Future of Competitive Overwatch
Hello, everyone! We've seen a lot of conversations around Competitive in Overwatch lately, and I'd like to take most of this week's Director's Take to address it. But first, let’s have a quick hero update.
We made several changes to Illari when she was enabled for Ranked. Most notably, the healing for her pylon was reduced, and her Ultimate projectile size was decreased while it no longer pierces barriers. The Pylon nerfs effectively equalized the healing between her pylon and Solar Rifle. Pre-nerf, the Healing Pylon accounted for about 62% of her healing; now that number is 55%. This change also brings her more in line with other damage-forward supports, whereas before, she was outputting healing numbers close to Lifeweaver and Mercy. We're happy with those latest changes and the additional changes made to Captive Sun. We’ll continue to monitor her damage output and see if anything needs addressing next season. Additionally, we're looking at Roadhog's underperformance and targeting his rework for the midseason update in Season 7.
Over the past few weeks, more people have been talking about Competitive Play. Conversations really started to trend following a video from Eskay. I'd like to join in on the conversation. I agree with a lot of what has been said – and I want to share a glimpse into what the development team is thinking and the direction that we're likely to go with Competitive in the future. The team has been working on changes to our Competitive mode for some time, but moderate to major changes to the mode won't find their way into the game until sometime down the road. I won’t be able to address every issue that people are discussing in this piece, but I would like to address some of the major ones. We’ll share more details on specifics as we get closer to releasing the changes.
Some feedback we’ve heard about the current system is that you’re not pleased with how much information about the match, and your progress is hidden from you. We understand you want to know how the system works, especially regarding how your rating goes up, down, or even changes at all when you get a Competitive Update, along with trying to figure out how fair a match is at the start of a game. For instance, we’ve seen players go 5-2 and be demoted at their next Competitive Update. Many of the reports investigated so far have occurred due to MMR decay. For instance, if you typically pick DPS and go a significant amount of time between playing other roles, then MMR decay could kick in between updates for lesser-played roles. Since decay is tracked per role, this could pull your rating down far enough to cause the demotion. When players see this happen, they would justifiably assume there was an issue with the system. Many of the changes that came with our Competitive 2.0 update were based on values centered around pulling frustrating moments out of the experience but came at the cost of obscuring other information.
Going forward, we’re shifting our values to provide more transparency to the mode. This doesn't necessarily mean that the older skill rating measurement is or isn't coming back. As we continue to iterate on the possibilities, we very much appreciate your continued feedback. We want you to have a better understanding of what your true rank is and why wins and losses cause it to move up or down based on the general skill level of all players in a match.
Additionally, we understand the way we track progress can cause losses to feel more frustrating. Currently, the system will provide a rank update after every five wins or fifteen losses. After each win, progress is shown on a screen during the end-of-round flow, but losses are not. When the game doesn't acknowledge the loss, it can feel as though the whole match was a waste of time. We’re making changes so that the system will contribute your progress toward a rank update after every match, whether you win or lose, so that no match feels like a complete waste of time.
We're also talking about the Top 500 leaderboard and some of the unique issues for that experience. If you are in the Top 500, you are among the most competitive players in the community, and we think there are additional needs and issues than the rest of the community. One example of a unique problem is the difficulty of climbing the Top 500 leaderboard later in the season versus playing early in the season when it's easier to place higher. They also have more issues with queue times, grouping with friends, and finding fair matches when the spectrum of skill in this group can still be fairly substantial.
We also believe that the Top 500 experience is a more full-featured experience than how other players interact with Competitive. Competing with and passing other players on the ladder makes the Top 500 leaderboard exciting. It's not something that most players get to experience. Eventually, we'd love to find a way for players of other ranks to have an experience in climbing the ranks that feels more granular than just moving in and out of skill tiers. This is a long-term goal and is something we are just thinking about right now.
Overwatch 2 is always evolving and growing. We'd like for it to be doing that in a way that is exciting for players and in a direction that they would like. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to have a healthy dialog between players and developers. Some of these Competitive changes will be made in the short term (like how we treat MMR decay), but other issues will be handled with broader changes coming early next year. Ultimately, we are aiming to make the system more transparent, add more frequent reporting, open up some of our restrictions for grouping at high-skill tiers, and look to introduce new competitive rewards. Let’s keep the conversation going!
Thanks for reading - I'll see you in game.