Disclaimer: While I am a forum MVP, this post is of my opinion only. I do not represent Blizzard. My views and my opinions here are based on my personal observations of Overwatch from my own game experiences and that of the community. For a TL:DR please see last paragraph.
There can be no denying that when a player leaves a game of Overwatch that is currently in progress, it has a negative impact to all remaining players in the match along with any players who have to backfill (in casual game modes). Many of you know that I have spent hours on these forums helping players both those impacted by leavers and those who left unintentionally due to disconnection or crash. Therefore, I have a reasonably good idea of how much of an impact leaver are in matches. There have not been too many changes since season 2 made to deter leavers. However, in recent seasons, I have seen increasing number of threads on these forums complaining about leavers impacting matches, especially in Competitive Play. This thread is a proposal of new measures to deter leavers in both casual and Competitive modes.
Before I get into my proposal, first let me address why leavers are becoming a significant problem again. The truth is that a growing majority of our community is not dedicated to a single account. It has been clearly stated that owning more than one account is not in violation of the game rules, Code-of-Conduct or the Blizzard End User License Agreement. Now I won’t necessarily dig into the overall perceived problem of “smurfs” (accounts that deliberately attempt to play below the actual skill level of the player owning that account), but I do believe that having the option to own multiple accounts negatively impacts the game’s ability to deter bad leaver behavior. For example, a player with even just two accounts can swap between accounts when they are waiting for a Competitive Mode suspension to expire. The more accounts a player owns, the less of an impact the leaver suspensions have on a player. Not to mention outside of a primary account, the -75% XP penalty for leaving matches in general has little impact as a player is less likely to care about their collected cosmetics outside of their primary account. Even a player who only plays on a single account but is not dedicated to that account is very likely to switch to a new account with minimal impact in the event they are permanently banned from Competitive Play. To summarize, the current actions for leaving games has little impact, and prolific leaver behavior is steadily increasing in Overwatch.
I already know there is little more they can do to increase direct suspensions to deter leaver behavior and there is very little that can be done to minimize the impact to remaining players of a match when there is a leaver. I also know that bad leaver behavior is present in both Competitive and casual modes. To resolve this, I have two ideas that if both implemented would show dramatically deter players from leaving matches and minimize the odds of most players seeing other players leave matches. These ideas are Mandatory return to previous match for all game modes and a low-priority queue.
The first idea, “Mandatory return to previous match” forces a player who left ANY matchmaking game mode (not counting custom games or skirmishes) to return to that match even if it is backfilled by another player (meaning they are placed in spectator mode). Competitive technically already does this and this rule would not be in effect by players who leave a competitive match by option of forfeit when there was already another player who left. I know some players leave a causal mode because that match was “not being played seriously”, but I more or less see that as an excuse for being tilted. I believe that when you queue for a match and it has begun, you are required to complete that match. While I do understand we all want to have fun playing Overwatch, leaving any game takes away the fun from your teammates and opponents. By enforcing players to either return playing or sit through the match they left that is still in progress, they will be less likely to continue to leave matches overall. This rule would have little impact on those who leave a casual game mode for reasonable reasons that require the user to stop playing Overwatch at that time.
The implementation of an active low-priority queue into Overwatch works by placing a player to only pair with other players at the same level of that low-priority queue. This would severely increase the search time for that player or only be able to play with other players who currently have a recent history of leaving games. There would also be multiple “tiers” of low-priority queues. If a player has a repeated behavior of leaving games, they drop into worse low-priority queues. A player will temporarily return to the normal priority queue if they are unable to find a match in their current low-priority queue. If a player cancels their search queue, they reset their timer and have to start over if they search again. Now a player climbs out of their current low-priority queue by completing matches. Below is a table that demonstrates such a proposal:
|Tier||Casual games left||Comp Games left||Time to wait in queue before returning to normal queue for that match only||Casual games to complete1||Competitive games to complete2|
|5||15 or more||4||1 hour||5||8|
|6||n/a||5||1 hour + 8-hour suspension from Competitive Play*||6||10|
|7||n/a||6||1 hour + 24-hour suspension from Competitive Play*||n/a||20|
|8||n/a||7||SEASON BAN FROM COMPETITIVE**||n/a||SEASON BAN**|
1 Casual games played only resolve low-priority queues triggered only from casual games left.
2 Competitive games played resolve low-priority queues for both casual and competitive games.
*A suspension will take place before the player is allowed to queue for Competitive Play again, the suspensions only apply for Competitive Play leaver violations.
**The season ban will trigger if the player reaches the seventh tier in their current competitive season and counts toward one of the three season bans on their account to trigger a permanent ban.
The idea behind a low-priority queue is sort of a direct time-out that the player must endure before being able to play again. Even if they tried to switch to a different account, they would have to endure the low-priority queue before being able to play on the account where they left a game effectively reducing the incentive to leave a game on any of their accounts. Now they could be paired for a match before the timer expires but it will be with other players who are in the same low-priority queue. This is important because it helps reduce the appearance of players with bad leaver behavior across Overwatch from appearing in most players games. The only disadvantage to this proposal that I can see is that players who are placed in low-priority queues would very likely have more poor match experiences due to higher inconsistency of players they could play with. However, I feel that advantages outweighs this one disadvantage. It would provide better results the overall community, working to correct bad leaver behavior in Overwatch.
I hope these ideas make sense. In short, players are not feeling deterred when they leave games because they don’t ensure an active punishment to get into a new match. Requiring players to return to their current match even in casual modes would allow players to realize that they do not needlessly need to leave just because they don’t like the outcome of that match. By enforcing a low-priority queue, players won’t be able to easily dodge leaving without having to eventually be forced to endure the penalty from leaving. By implementing features that require a player to complete the match they left or by placing them into lower-priority queues, they will be more incentivized to stay in their current match and perform their best until it is complete. In any case, I know the community would love feedback from the Overwatch development team on whether they are currently seeing leavers as a growing problem in both casual and Competitive games and if they do, what plans they have in the future to address it. Thank you for reading everyone! (^^)v