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 . 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.