This is mostly not applied to “smurfs”. Smurfs, in general, are low level/new accounts in a game performing well above their intended performance, such as showing above average mechanical skill, aim, ability/resource management, etc.
This description that you’ve listed, best fits to alts, which are not the same as smurfs.
There are some very legitimate purposes to having an alternate account. For example, my alternate account is strictly used for testing purposes to learn and re-learn about key features of Overwatch from a new account perspective. I also use it when I need to control the game from two positions (such as when I am building a custom game and need to test a few things to make sure it works correctly).
Once again, I say the term “smurf” is ambiguous. It is often perceived to mean too many different things from different points of view. Just like when I said “Anakin, the good man that was your father was destroyed” was true from a certain point of view.
So it is important to identify what is considered disruptive to the game and maintain balance in the Force.
(Sorry for the Star Wars meme, but I couldn’t resist.)
Some pretty easy ways to mitigate smurfing for the general player population…
Separate purgatory queue for levels below 250. Tri-star bronze and up portrait borders (level 250+) will all queue into their own protected pool. Anyone that wants to smurf against the general population without investing the time to level must buy an account… which is against the TOS and immediately bannable.
Amplify reports filed against low-level accounts. If a level 20 account is getting reported multiple times per match, the account should be actioned quickly.
Require SMS protect… or at least gate-keep getting into the protected queue by requiring SMS protect… otherwise you stay in the sub-250 level purgatory queue.
In theory, this would be a better experience for everyone. New players wouldn’t be getting thrown into matches with people that have far more institutional knowledge. Experienced players won’t be getting matched with players that don’t yet understand the matchups, level layouts, abilities, metas, etc. Smurfs will have to pay FAR more for an account to get into a protected queue or invest enough time leveling that smurfing is no longer worthwhile. Players that have dedicated time to play on a single account, and authenticate it, benefit.
The problem is that a beginner’s pool/queue would negatively impact new players and discourage them from playing.
Report them for what. Again it is not a reportable offense to play with an alternate account as long as you are doing the best you can.
Not everyone has a phone, especially outside of the U.S and especially in our console communities.
Overall all of these ideas seem to intend to divide the player base and I would think that a high majority of the known 40 million players/accounts don’t put in the active time to reach the level 250 in terms of experience play. I can’t imagine what it would do to queue times on both sides.
I can see some concern about not having the pressure to perform at your best vs. the main account. However, if a player is consistently being disruptive by throwing, they are likely to be reported and eventually actioned by Blizzard. If necessary, Blizzard will IP ban extreme offenders (and have done it in the past).
While your ideas in some ways are good, there are definitely strong criticisms that possibly prevent them from being viable solutions.
This negatively affects new players (yes Overwatch does get them quite a bit). It would also negatively impact the overall community matchmaking making queue possibly longer for many players. Especially those in low populated regions.
I don’t have the insider knowledge or facts (only the Blizzard Global Insights team would), but I think it would have to be carefully evaluated to see how often new players are reported for illegimate reasons (such as being reported for Gameplay Sabotage when they are just playing badly). I would also emphasize that they have done a lot of investigations to track what is defined as consistent disruptive behavior. Meaning the player is deliberately trying to throw games or is always abusive in communication, the global insights team has revealed less than 5% of our community reaches the point of needing to be actioned for such consistent disruptive behavior. Furthermore, only about 1% ever remains disruptive after the first account action and has to be escalated to a permanent account ban. (Sources of this information comes from the Play Nice, Play Fair panel in BlizzCon 2018 and the Fair Play Alliance “Common Player Behavior Myths” Panel at GDC 2018.)
Not everyone has a phone. (Insert Diablo Immortal Joke here.) Most notably console players and countries outside of the U.S. It would be unfair if a legitimate player is locked into potentially unbalanced matches indefinitely.
In the end, a lot of these ideas would very likely deter legitimate new players and I think that must be considered in any solution to deter disruptive behavior in Overwatch.
New players being placed with other new players is a negative effect? I disagree. Putting a new player up against a diamond-border Masters level Tracer is a negative effect. Putting a player who is new to the game against others that are also learning is TYPICAL. We do this not only in games, but in MOST group activities. There are almost ALWAYS beginner, intermediate, and advanced group separations.
As to reporting; I’d wager a new player is FAR more likely to be reported for “playing badly” by experienced players who are frustrated by being paired with them, and far less likely to be reported for playing badly by other new players who are also just trying to learn the game.
As to phones/SMS Protect; I’ve advocated multiple times for a PROPER 2FA unique identifier for Blizzard accounts. I would LOVE to protect and identify my account with my Yubi-Key hardware authenticator. Unfortunately, I can’t even BACKDOOR protect my Blizzard account via hardware token because Google Voice numbers are blocked! (My Google account is secured via hardware token which invalidates SIM swap and MIM attacks against SMS auth).
As to low population areas, the standard fall-backs apply. Queues would simply be combined IF ABSOLUTELY NECCESARY.
I don’t understand this at all. If we raise the level cap to 100, it’s considerably further away for an alt account, but level 100 is nothing for a main account. IMO players shouldn’t even consider competitive before that because they won’t probably even learn fundamentals of the game by that point. Thinking that players would get “annoyed” sounds extremely far fetched to me. I don’t even know how one could come to a conclusion like this.
When it comes to existing alt accounts, that’s also a non-issue here. If they keep playing normally on their alt accounts that already exist then they’ll simply be in their own MMR bracket where they belong which means no harm. If they’re not then they’re most likely engaging in gameplay sabotage and will most likely get suspended in the long run by the time they reach level 100. In other words I fail completely to understand how it would effect current accounts
I think it’s just absurd how it’s not obvious that getting a new account for 11$ and then having it competitive ready in less than one session is a high incentive to buy an alt account especially if you’re incentivized to get one due to the matchmaking experience or something similar that is a big issue in the game right now. If it took players 3-5 sessions more it would highly deincentivize them to get an alt account without an actual purpose
If you have a gaming console and especially a gaming PC (which is definitely not cheap), you have a phone. In fact, gaming on your phone is the primary source of video game entertainment in much poorer countries.
So, stop making smurf threads except me cos I have another account cos reasons therefore no one should anymore threads…
Ok There’s plenty of reasonable explanations people come up with for they want more accounts, I just think that problems caused by this outweigh the slight benefits multiple accounts give, and that solving this personal problem shouldn’t come at the expense of screwing the game up for others.
I don’t see the value of being killed by the flanker 1000+SR above me cos my teammates aren’t able to hit the AD spam crouching Tracer/Genji, being picked off by the grappling widow cos I got didn’t predict that they would step out at that time and we don’t have shield/dive tanks to inconvenience them enough to miss a shot.
I just want to play against people about as good as me plus or minus, say, < 500ish SR this way I actually have an impact on the game at hand rather than simply be present
I don’t care about winning or losing (I prefer to win though), I just want a close game. The game that we win cos our smurfs/alts is completely trashing the opposition is actually more boring than getting spawn camped cos at least then I can just go widow and take pot shots at things from spawn.