A True OW Player Experience


I have told myself that I would write to OW folks at some point when the experience I will be describing next became strong enough to have to validity. I am about 2 years into my OW play now and I am here today to tell the Dev’s, or anyone within OW that is listening, something that has been a long time coming for me. May not be new, but might give some more color to many others out the competitive world. I am truly writing this because I am competitive at heart and really want to help. Enjoy.

Over the past two years my experience with competitive OW has been a roller coaster ride. From the thrill of learning new characters and maps to the awesomeness of grinding out kills and major wins in a highly team based game to also the downfalls of bad players (throwers) and small imbalances here and there. With everything, I cannot help but say OW has been one of the best games maybe I have played in my life and I have played a few for sure :wink:. There has always been a sense of challenge with the game in the sense of, “How do I get to the next Elo or SR?” or “What else could I use this ability for?”. Time and time again I find myself (like many others) coming back to the monitor, which is exactly what they need and want from within Blizzard. Bonus points OW team.

At this point in time now, I cannot help but notice that desire fading somewhat. One might ask, “Is it because you play the game too much/long” or “Have you changed as a person over the years?” There are many great questions to mine and others fading experience with competitive play and to hopefully answer most of them I indulge you further.

Over the past two years I have been tracking my stats within OW and other sites like Overbuff as well as watching many, many videos online to see others strategies to make myself more aware of what I might be lacking or excelling in with many of the characters and maps. Being honest, I am no one trick and I am no one role. My worst role (per SR) is DPS and best is Support and I began my journey in mid-bronze and I am currently around 2400 avg SR. But lets stop talk about that for a second. Over two years now I have been evaluating and adjusting my game play to better fit my teams and myself (from learning, observing, and applying) and yet I am still in the lower end of the SR distribution. Before you read on, think about that for a moment. What could possibly be holding this dude back? Well there could be many things. Maybe my mechanics are really that bad or maybe my game sense is really that bad. I am here to tell you in full confidence (based on many, many players I play/talk with and all the research I have done) it is not either of those. It is however due to… timing.

Timing. Oh how this is where every OW player knows a little something about. If I asked a breath of players, real players (not internet trolls) what their experience is at the end nearly of each season it would interesting to find that the majority of them would say it is not great. Another question I could pose is how many players see major SR trends in the game (over a lot of time) where they will be very large ups and very large downs and you would find that this is talked about all the time.

Over the past two years something interesting I have noticed and have been tracking is the timeliness of lets call it problematic competitive game play. These problematic games lead to a rapid decline (or improvement if you are lucky) of previously gained SR. Many might not like this and some may flat out write me off, but I am here to tell this with full honesty (based on everything I have learned and experienced): the ability to have additional accounts are ruining the game. Why? Well ask and you shall receive.

During the end of seasons, OW games generally go on discount before or around this time and this leads to a surge of both bad players that want a reset as well as very, very good players that don’t want to be grind in the high SR’s any more. You can already imagine what mixing SR’s extremes does in-game, but just for a flavor, to begin imagine yourself teaming with someone that has such poor mechanics and/or game sense that it immediately makes you wonder how they are in your SR. Now imagine how that game generally goes. These people may have purchased the additional game because they are bad or just don’t care. Point is, they don’t like where their other account is, so they purchase another game again and again and get placed with others and then continue on the same trend down again and the pattern repeats (generally speaking). All the while impacting game experience for the players that worked to where they are at that time.

I want to describe one more scenario that many players are all too familiar with; Smurfing or in other words, extremely talented players in substantially lower SR’s. This my friends, is one of the biggest swings in SR’s for many players. Timing! Over and over, I have watched and seen mine and others SR’s crash due to the onslaught of smurfs that surge into the game after it has gone on discount or even just the desire to play lower SR’s again. Listen, we can debate all day what I or others in the game are not doing correctly to counter them, but I am honestly here to tell you it is bigger then that. I am not sure how much the Dev’s know about this or truly experience at their level, but this is real. I cannot tell you how many games I have played that have been decided by an extremely talented player on the other team. I cannot tell you how many times I watch other players get their extremely talented friends to buy a new game and help them climb. I am not calling out one role or character either. These players, over and over, continue to wreak havok on other players at lower SR’s (plat and below). To add to this, because I knew the rough timing of when this might occur, I played the hell out of my support role during the time I knew it might not be as bad, and this is the only reason I went from gold to plat in my support. No lie. I do not normally party with others. This is pure random matching. I am not going to show much ego, but in a small way, I know that if this was truly based on your actual SR calculation, I and others I know should be in diamond or above. I am really not trying to exaggerate.

Again, OW continues to be one of the better games I have ever played, but like all things in life, it can improve. You might ask, well what would you do then? Well that is a tough question. I understand economics, finance, and business in general as I am engineer by day. But if you would like to know what I might suggest, see the following for limited list:

  • Remove the ability to have additional accounts.

  • Create more in-game purchasable content (like Lucio’s DJ emote for instance)

  • Do more events rather then just the main ones with additional purchasable content. (Winter, halloween, etc.) There are so many players that I would bet would love to personalize their characters.

  • Stop making skins free! (charge people, but make them cheap)

  • Continue to tweak your SR calculation due too new maps and characters. (While it is good, everything can be adjusted and redone based increasing data)

Generating revenue is hard, I totally get it, but I know you have a ton of smart people that work on this every day. If you made it this far, thank you for reading and I hope this helps. :slightly_smiling_face:

First off let me say this is an extremely well-writen and well though-out post, you look at the perspective of alternate accounts in a way that truly highlights the impact players using alternate accounts have on the rest of the community. I don’t represent Blizzard (I am a forum MVP and my text is green because I dedicate a lot of time helping players here on the forums), but I recently starting creating discussion content on YouTube. I am thinking about a detailed video discussing alternate accounts and smurfs just like this, so if you don’t mind I might reference your topic when I come about to producing it.

Now on to your suggestions, I do like to critique ideas here on the forums to help generate and brainstorm the best ideas. So consider the following:

Sadly this is easier said than done. Even if they changed the terms and conditions of the Blizzard End User License Agreement, it would be very difficult (especially now since many players have started alternate accounts) to enforce it. There have been proposals such as implementing phone/SMS verification or using the Blizzard Authenticator App, but neither of those solutions effectively stop alternate account creation and can hinder legitimate players first trying to play the game (especially those under the age of 18 and console players). Korea requires a BattleNet account to be tied to their national ID number and that does help in those markets, however such solutions are not very applicable everywhere else. The only way I can feasiably see Overwatch controlling multiple accounts is by running subscription fees or Battle Passes and I am afraid both are not viable monetization models for the game (though I lack research to prove one way or the other).

Overwatch does currently run on the Lootbox monetization model, rather than La Carte or Season Pass monetization models such as what you find in games like Fortnite. There might be a chance this may change someday (considering more and more governments are placing restrictions on Lootboxes). However, I did a lot of research on monetization models and the most successful models Season Passes and Loot Boxes both have their benefits and evils. Season Passes which grants content by playing the game throughout a specified time frame at a fixed price, is a great non-randomized way to earn content. However, its evil is that it gets players aggressively hooked to the game and possibly lead to unhealthy play addictions. Lootboxes can also be addictive, and some games aggressively use Lootbox monetization models to improve that player’s ability to win the game (FIFA anyone?). Overwatch, in my opinion, is a very healthy monetization model as nothing from Lootboxes will significantly benefit your ability to play the game. Which leads me to my first critical point, those who are taking time to get alternate accounts is not going to be concerned about getting items from Loot Boxes as items from them do not benefit them playing the game. So these ideas, while they are good, really won’t change anything about players starting alternate accounts.

The skill rating calculation does not, for the most part, take into consideration performance factors of each player in the match. There is a minor influence of skill-rating performance adjustment for Platinum and lower ranks only, but from my understanding, this really has no significant impact on its own unless you are one-tricking an off-meta hero religiously. SR calculation is actually based on the following factors:

  • Whether you win or lose the match. The match result is the ultimate determining factor if your efforts proved to be a positive contribution to the match.
  • Your strength of schedule This means how strong are your opponent’s average skill rating to that of your own personal skill rating. The stronger your opponents are the more you can gain if you win the match but lose less if you are defeated and vise versa. This if anything is the most signficant contributing factor to the adjustment in your skill rating
  • How frequently you play. The more you play the more stable your SR adjustments will be, if you take extremely long breaks (like weeks at a time) between matches, you could see more wildly fluctuating skill rating adjustments.
  • How close you are to 0 SR or 5000 SR. This really has no major influence unless you are in “Wood” tier (<500 SR) or Grandmasters. Basically in order to keep players from getting too far ahead or reach the bottom, the gains for winning decreases the higher you climb, and the deductions for losing increases the more you fall down the ladder.

So in reality, the system already works to account for more uncontrollable factors technically by not relying too much on performance based factors.

There is no doubt that generating revenue is hard for any video game company. However (and I may get a lot of flack from everyone by me saying this), I seriously don’t think Blizzard relies on the sales of players buying multiple licenses of Overwatch as a primary revenue source for this game. One reason behind this is that Overwatch 2 is in development which is designed to bring in a fun new PVE experience for everyone to enjoy if they buy the sequel, but they are keeping both the core PvP Overwatch experience available and updated for those who stick with Overwatch 1 or choose to purchase Overwatch 2.

So yeah, I will not disagree that alternate accounts is becoming a very detrimental problem and I think the development team should address this problem again. However, I just don’t know how effectively they would be able to control people from making alternate accounts. I think the solution lies in finding ways to restrict access from Overwatch on all accounts shared from the same name, IP address, network for those who violate the Blizzard Code of Conduct regardless of the severity of the action (typically IP restrictions are put into place for extremely serious offenders). However any solution will not like not come from us the community, but from Blizzard themselves.

As a friendly note here is the most recent statement from Game Director Jeff Kaplan about the use of alternate accounts:

He also has a more detailed explanation on the older forums (click here).

Again, very well written post and it was a great read, it addresses a lot of the perceptions we as a community are seeing when dealing with those who start alternate accounts and from those who abuse alternate accounts to cause problems in finding fair matches. I still enjoy playing Overwatch, but this is important to me (and many other members of the community) and I am hopeful the game will continue to improve to prove a fair experience for everyone.

1 Like

There has to be some action about having additional accounts. It’s absolutely ruining the game. I had to quit playing QP because the new accounts were ruining the experience to the point of making me so tilted and toxic I couldn’t stand being in the games. The new accounts were making the matchmaking bad to the point of my playing ability making absolutely zero difference as to the win/loss status of the game.

I mean, if it doesn’t matter what or how I play, what’s the point of the game?

I’m not saying they have to stop selling them. But the way new accounts are introduced to the game has to change. There have been lots of suggestions about how to integrate them into the game, and most of them are better than how the game actually does it. Something has to improve if the game is to survive. The game has to be about skill, it can’t just be brownian motion garbage where you win or lose based on the whim of the matchmaker every time and it doesn’t matter how well you actually play.


I appreciate your comments, feedback, and information very much. You make some extremely valid and obviously discussed points. I also appreciate the thoughts on the the in-game content, but I continue to wonder how perceived and/or mental outcome of look boxes (gambling if you will) are at the mercy of the company selling them. This goes hand in hand with casino’s and gambling addiction and who is ultimately at fault. That’s a discussion for another day.

Like you said this is definitely a problem that can use some attention, but like you also said, SR calculation continues to be “non-performance” based Elo calculation. I have actually given a segment on Elo calculation for other models (sports mainly) and there are many factors you can add that would and can help with this (just takes time and research to develop them). Thanks again for the great response and making OW that much better. :grinning: