Hello everyone, WyomingMyst here. As many of you are aware, last night was a rough night a large portion of the community who was logged onto Overwatch (or any other Blizzard game) as there was a DDoS attack which prevented most of the Americas community from being able to log on and those who typically play on U.S. West servers being disconnected mid-game. Now this issue was resolved last night, but there are other large-scale issues going on today apparently. So, over the last 18 hours, there has been a lot of us players who were negatively impacted by the issues that have happened or are still ongoing. As such this thread, is to hopefully collect constructive feedback as we as a community review the current policies.
I try to spend a reasonable amount of time as one of the forum MVPs to help spread the word when issues like these are going out and when there are no major issues, I spend free time helping players one-on-one with what knowledge I have about the game to help resolve technical issues and answer questions about Blizzard’s policies regarding how they handle leavers in Overwatch, including those who disconnect or crash. Note, this is not a job, and I am NOT a representative of Blizzard Entertainment. Believe me, if I ever work for Blizzard, it will be as a graphic designer. However, I am very passionate about this game, and it is this game and the friendships I have made with the community and with Blizzard that inspired me to help others and make changes in my life to pursue a career in graphic design. But enough about me, what I want to get at is that while I love this game, I still have certain opinions about it and I wish to share some of these opinions constructively here today.
How I am going to work this discussion is to tackle each of the common questions that players have had about leavers or dealing with disconnections. Remember this is one of the oldest arguments in our community. Many of us don’t like it when players leave Competitive games (or any game mode in general) and I also know many of us don’t like when we are kicked off the game due to some sort of a technical issue (including disconnections, game client crashes, power outages, or network or server issues). Blizzard has to balance both of these factors when it comes to handling players who leave games. As such their leaver policy works as follows:
- Players who leave any game (with the exception of the Tutorial, Practice Range, or any Custom Game from the Game Browser) counts towards their 20-game leaver ratio. If at any time a player leaves 25% or more of their last two games played, they will be hit with a -75% XP penalty. This penalty can only be resolved by getting the ratio back in balance.
- Players who leave a Competitive Game will be issued a minimum 10-minute suspension from Competitive Play. This suspension will increase in duration the more games they leave up to and including a Season Ban. A player is permanently banned from Competitive Play if they accumulate three season bans in their entire history of playing Overwatch. It can take as little as six games in a single season to get a Season Ban. Players can work to reduce the potential suspension time and return to “good standing” by completing a high majority of their Competitive matches. Each time a player leaves a Competitive game they will receive a match loss with a fixed 50 SR deduction. This deduction does not increase for any reason to make sure players don’t deliberately tank their skill rating.
- In a Competitive Match, the remaining teammates of a team that has a leaver must take the match result including the full appropriate SR adjustment. This is a policy that has been adopted since the middle of the first Competitive season in order to reduce any incentive for bad leaver behavior and toxicity.
- With the recent introduction of Endorsements, leaving games of any kind can result in your Endorsement rating being reduced. Unfortunately, I don’t have the specific details behind how this exactly works. What I do know that is this is intended by Blizzard, as your reliability to stay in games you play counts as part of being an honorable player in Overwatch.
- As always, technical malfunctions (including disconnections, game client crashes, power outages, or issues with Blizzard’s network providers) counts as leaving the match you are playing in and will be penalized appropriately. Blizzard’s policy on this is due to two factors. First, leaving is still leaving, whether it was intended or not. By penalizing technical issues, this discourages players from immediately jumping back in and getting into trouble again right away. Secondly it is a common reality that it is impossible to tell the difference of a player who has a legitimate technical malfunction from one that is deliberately fabricated in order to cheat in an effort to bypass such penalties.
IDEAS TO IMPROVE THE SYSTEM
Now that we know the details of how the Leaver Penalty system works, let’s discuss on ideas that should be implemented to help support players. As it stands, I believe the rules above are as fair as we can hope to get it in terms of the direct violations. However, I still feel certain ideas can be implemented to help educate players when dealing with specific issues. Some of these ideas I have touched on before.
IDEA 1: Warning messages when you are penalized
I have brought up this idea before in past topics discussed here. It has been my observation there are many players who don’t understand that they are penalized if they disconnect from competitive play, nor do they know what to do about it.
The idea here is when you start a Competitive Game, you are “logged into that game”. And until you complete the match you are not “logged out”. So if a player disconnects or has a game crash and they log back in they will be penalized (unless they quickly return to the same match in a timely manner). So for those who do disconnect or crash in a competitive match (and were penalized), I would like to see the following message to appear when they first log back into the game.
Here is a sample that I created of what a post-leaver warning message would look like:
The displayed link would be clickable and would open the player’s web browser to immediately go to the Battle.net support site. Now regardless if they took time to fix their problems or not or if they deliberately left, if a player tries to start a new Competitive Match after they served a suspension from leaving one, another warning message would appear when they click on the Competitive Play button.
Here is a sample that I created of what a reminder warning message would look like:
The goal is to educate players on the importance of not leaving matches and to correct any technical issues before attempting to play Competitive Play again. Neither warning message will appear again if the player completes their next competitive match and remains that way unless they leave/disconnect/crash again in a future match.
IDEA 2: Cancel Competitive Queue Cooldown
I have seen many posts in all of the forums (Competitive, Technical Support, Bug Report) about players complaining that they cancel the search queue for a competitive match, and immediately exit the game, but then come back and discovered they were penalized for leaving a competitive match. This is happening because within the milliseconds of them canceling the queue, they were paired into a competitive match but were too fast to exit the game, not realizing they were paired into a match. To resolve this, I propose a 10-second cooldown that locks out the interface from the time they press to cancel the queue. Once they click to cancel, a pop-up message should appear to graphically show they are being canceled out of queue but until they matchmaking server returns a signal saying they are no longer in the queue that they still could be paired for a match.
Here is a sample that I created of what a cancel queue cooldown would look like:
IDEA 3: Cancel competitive queue trigger if a player leaves a group
Another problem commonly reported is that a player gets a penalty if they try to leave a group when there is an active competitive search queue active. So, I propose that if a player in a group (even if they are not the group leader) clicks to exit the group, the queue is automatically canceled (and goes into “cooldown” as I described in the idea above). Once the cooldown is complete, then that player is removed from the group, after which the group leader may attempt to queue for competitive again.
IDEA 4: Competitive Pairing Confirmation and pre-game Backfill protocol
One of the biggest problems I am seeing players struggle with is getting disconnected in the pre-game sequence of a Competitive Match. Now players are supposed to be committed to a competitive match once they are paired into that match. However, many disconnections will result in a “Failed to connect to Server” error, while the technical reasons about this are often outside of the hands of either the player or Blizzard to correct (it’s typically due to a problem somewhere in-between the connection). How the match goes about handling it is a bit unbalanced. Here is my solution.
When a player is paired for a match, they should be taken to the loading screen however the loading screen hides the names of all players, their tiers, the map name, and the teams’ average skill ratings. There is then a confirmation button on the screen that each player must press within 30 seconds to confirm they are ready for the match. Once the game receives confirmation of all 12 players, the match stats mentioned above is revealed for about 5 seconds and the match moves to the Hero Selection Screen as normal. If after 30 seconds a player fails to confirm, they are dropped from the match and be given their appropriate Suspension but NOT a match loss or loss of skill rating, and the match will then backfill appropriate players from the queue until the match is confirmed by 12 players. At this point, the competitive leaver protocols that currently exist take over.
Here is a sample that I created of what a confirmation screen would look like:
The details in this idea help resolve all of the common problems with pre-match leavers while hopefully making it a little fair for all parties involved. I still believe a player should be suspended if they fail to make the initial connection to a competitive match (as they need to stop playing and resolve their connection issues), but I believe it is not fair for their skill rating to be affected when they fail to load into the match. Of course, once all players confirm and see the pairing details, they are subjected to full penalty as we don’t want a situation where queue dodging becomes a problem (this is the whole reason why players are penalized before a match starts). Finally, during the confirmation sequence, the matchmaker should work to find the appropriate substitutes in advance for each player slot, until all 12 players are confirmed for that match. This, of course, would be the ONLY time where there is any form of a backfill protocol in Competitive. This idea is radical from a development standpoint, but it would be beneficial to every player trying to play Competitive Overwatch.
IDEA 5: More in-game system warning during issues that affect a majority of players
This one is a new one. While the Battle.net launcher does display notifications and we do get alerts on Twitter from Blizzard Customer Service, players who are already logged in and playing are left vulnerable if issues start to rise. While it is impossible to stop every possible instance of disconnection when something like a DDoS attack begins, I believe there can be more in-game warnings and alerts for all platforms. Especially during key steps such as beginning the search for a Competitive Play match. Say if Blizzard CS puts out an alert, I wish they have the option to turn on a feature which prompts a warning dialog stating they are tracking issues which may cause each player to disconnect if they risk playing Competitive. Now if the player still chooses to queue and still disconnects, they should be penalized still, but I think an in-game warning system will go a long way to minimize the impact a massive issue like a DDoS has on players.
IDEAS THAT I BELIEVE WON’T WORK
The community in the past has proposed many solutions toward handling either leavers they suffer from or getting penalized when there was a technical issue. I wish to touch on a few and why I don’t think such ideas can work.
Rollback the servers where there is a massive issue like a DDoS.
I don’t believe this is practical or technologically possible. Remember that even with a DDoS attack, not every player is affected, so if there were players who did not suffer at all during such an issue made a really good gain in Competitive but then their record was rolled back because a portion of our community suffered disconnections, that would be very unfair for those players and feel even worse than the players who suffered penalties. I also feel it is not technologically possible. I say this because I look at how difficult it is for the Overwatch team to update the PTR with the latest account stats from the live Americas servers (a.k.a. a PTR Snapshot). This is, in a way, the same thing.
Rollback accounts on a case-by-case basis
There is no appeal system for Overwatch Competitive Play penalties. This would be impractical and inefficient for Blizzard Customer Service to deal with. Furthermore, even if it was for only issues that impacted large majority of our players, it would incentivize bad leaver behavior during such instances.
Have lighter penalties for those who disconnect versus those who hit the leave game button
As mentioned, while the Overwatch team can track who hits the leave game button, they can’t tell the difference between those who deliberately disconnect and those who have something happen that is out of their control. Furthermore, penalties were increased at the start of season 2 because of behaviors like this.
Add an AI or player backfill when there is a leaver in a Competitive Match
Backfilling is a pain already in casual modes but in those modes it’s not typically a big deal as the match often restarts immediately with the same players unless too many leave at the end of the match. Competitive is a single-match experience and players expect to be able to play this from start to finish. I also know that it would be unfair for the team without the leaver to give the team with the leaver a backfill as it no longer makes up the original pairing of that match. So, if the team with the leaver wins, there is a perception that the matchmaker is unfair at that point.
The match should be canceled at any point of time in a Competitive Match when there is a leaver
Remember this would not be fair for the team without the leaver, matches would not complete consistently, and the game would become very unplayable. Matches cancel in the first minute of play because not either team invests a lot of time and in most cases, the course of the match is not showing who is going to win. As for those who complain about capturing the first point on an assault or hybrid map on the first fight and there is a leaver, well consider the fact that you were probably already fighting a 6 versus 5 in that case and the leaver disconnected.
As you can see there is a lot that was discussed here, and maybe you guys have some clever ideas. Just remember to think about the following before you pitch your ideas:
- Does it fairly benefit both teams in a single match? Remember when there is a competitive leaver any solutions must treat both teams fairly.
- Does it benefit equally at all ranks and ensure fair and honest matchmaking? We can’t have situations or exploits available where players can artificially inflate or tank their skill rating for any reason.
I hope this was found enlightening and I hope this sparks engaging conversation with each of you.