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Jeff Kaplan on Overwatch players' matchmaking patent concerns

Olivia R. September 25, 2020

The Overwatch community is concerned with the way Blizzard handles matchmaking. 

Overwatch player PrototypeOW came across a patent belonging to Activision-Blizzard that places lower skill level players with better players in order to make matches "as even as possible." According to a tweet from PrototypeOW, Blizzard also uses data including chat use, voice use, and rage quitting to even out matches. 

The patent claims that mixing skill levels in matches successfully retains players. This had PrototypeOW and other Overwatch players considering the possibility of the "main account curse," which means that fresh accounts have an easier time going "against the system" because Blizzard would have less data to use. 

"Theoretically, if you make all lobbies as close as possible, you're more likely to get more skilled teammates, because the game would think you'd need them to keep the 50% winrate, whereas if you carry every game, you're gonna get shitters to maintain their winrate," Prototype tweeted. 

The concerned player also shared the findings on social media, where some players voiced concerns and others called it "rumors." As the post gained traction, game director Jeff Kaplan decided to step in and clarify meaning behind the findings. 

Jeff Kaplan addresses matchmaking patent concerns

Kaplan first claimed that Overwatch does not use voice or text chat as part of its matchmaking analysis, in spite of what's listed in the patent. He then provided a simplified bullet list of what affects players' matchmaking the most. 

According to Kaplan, a player's matchmaking rating is very much affected by their win-loss ratio. They do take into account "certain conditions," like if someone is a new player. The MMR also heavily considers a player's region and ping. 

While many Overwatch fans thanked Kaplan for taking the time to clarify, PrototypeOW and some other players were not satisfied. Back on Twitter, PrototypeOW said that Kaplan didn't address his biggest concern, which was low skill and high-level players being paired together to make matches even and retain players. 

PrototypeOW, a Grand Master player, even said he planned to make a fresh account to test the theory. The player's followers noted that similar things have happened to them. Some noted that players get purposely "beat back down" when they climb too much. Others said "bad players are rewarded and good players are punished." 

While this is still a possible concern for Overwatch matchmaking, players were still relieved to hear that Overwatch does not use voice and chat data for matchmaking purposes.