In a recent stream, Michael “shroud” Grzesiek gave some simple tips for developers on how to deal with smurf accounts. He gave the advice after an experience playing popular FPS Overwatch.
The former Counter-Strike: Global Offensive professional does not normally stream Overwatch, but recently dove into the game’s ranked play and has played many different games where the practice of smurfing is commonplace. Shroud now has some thoughts on ways to deal with the issue.
Smurfing is where a person may have multiple accounts of the same game in order to play ranked games below their true rank and against easier opponents. While the practice is generally frowned upon, there can be legitimate reasons for doing so.
A player may wish to practice a different role or a different champion in a competitive game without their main rank being penalized, and they similarly may wish to play against a lower rank while playing in a role other than their main. Smurfing is also distinct from boosting, which is against the Overwatch terms of service and involves a high-level player getting paid to boost an account to a certain rank or to then sell a ranked account.
But Shroud explained that one of the biggest reasons for players smurfing is their wanting to play with friends.
“The main reason why people smurf is because they want to play with their friends who don’t really play the game. If they’re too high level they’ll have to make a new account,” Shroud said.
Smurfing can create a negative atmosphere for new players, as the smurf can dominate games at a lower rank than they are accustomed to. Shroud suggests a simple solution.
“The main reason why smurfing exists is because there’s a gap, and you aren’t allowed to play with friends if you are too high a rank. All you have to do is make so you can play with whoever at any rank and you’re fine,” Shroud said.
Other games such as CSGO have created a “prime” feature whereby a player registers a cell phone number to an account. The theory being that this will reduce the number of smurfs in the matchmaking mode, as well as the number of cheaters, as it matches prime users together.