Using the Priority Pass and Intended Use

Hey everyone! Now that the Priority Pass is live on the Retail environment, we wanted to make sure we were clear on the feature’s intended function, goals, and what constitutes misuse of the feature.


How It Works: Intended Function

The Priority Pass is intended to offer players a reward for queueing “Flex” on the role queue screen, thereby helping to fill games’ most needed roles and increase the rate at which matches begin. When you queue for “Flex,” you are essentially signing up for all three roles and will be assigned a role based on which have the lowest population at that time. Based on the final result of the match (win, draw, or lose), you will be awarded differing amounts of Priority Passes, i.e. if you’re looking to maximize your Priority Pass accrual rate, you’ll want to play to win! These Priority Passes can be used to “skip [part of] the line” when queuing for roles currently experiencing high volume (transparently, this is most often Damage).

Priority Passes may only be used when a particular role is significantly impacted – We don’t want players to waste their passes by skipping to the front of the line when the line is already relatively short. This means that you will only be able to use Priority Passes for select roles when there is a particularly high imbalance in populations queuing for each role. We also remove the ability to use Priority Passes in groups that are 5 or 6 players large because our system already tries to pair you with groups of similar large sizes. These groups already have a good balance of roles (given that a team is made up of 6 players), so it’s unlikely that using a pass would significantly reduce your time in queue.


Goals

Based on a number of factors like region, time, day of the week, and rank, there are times when queues for some roles are higher than normal. In an effort to improve the gameplay experience and maximize the amount of time spent actually in matches, we want to incentivize players to play underpopulated roles. Since the role queue system requires 2 players per team for 3 different roles, the Flex queue allows us to fill up games more rapidly by assigning players a role based on need.

Priority Passes are a reward for being a team player. Queuing Flex ultimately improves the gameplay experience for everyone by allowing games to happen quicker. Once you’ve banked some Priority Passes, you’ll then be able to jump in and queue for your favorite role without having to worry about extended waits between games.


Misuse of Queuing Flex and Priority Passes

We understand that playing Flex may require you to brush up on some skills you haven’t used in a while. Those who haven’t played a role in a really long time may be grandfathered into ranks that may not be reflective of your current performance. Over time, that will balance out as you play games and your SR adjusts accordingly. We don’t expect anyone to win every game they play, hence why passes are awarded upon a loss. Ultimately, the system will help to find a more accurate representation of one’s skills in different roles.

With that said, Overwatch embodies the spirit of teamwork. When you make the choice to queue Flex, you’re agreeing to put forth the same amount of effort, regardless of which role you end up with. It is considered a misuse of the Flex queue to get into matches and intentionally throw the results for the purpose of accruing Priority Passes. We will be making an active effort to identify this behavior, which can result in a penalty to your account. Play nice, play fair.

UPDATE (Dec 22)

We have issued a manual action wave against players with confirmed instances of gameplay sabotage. We encourage everyone to take this time to review the purpose of the Priority Pass feature and its intended function within Overwatch.

52 Likes

Once again, I am going to ask about this as it has never really been explained publicly, only just confirmed in a few past developer posts. Why is group-size a priority of matchmaking? I get in any given single game of Overwatch, this rule feels more fair, but when I look at the grand scheme of things and seeing the balance of the overall Competitive ladder, I would think that demonstrating the skills of good team coordination would be more beneficial for all players, and the best way to do this is by grouping up.

However, because group stacks of equal size are typically paired together, the end result is often longer queue times for large groups and playing what essentially becomes a more challenging game of Overwatch versus playing Solo-Queue or Duo-Queue (especially at lower ranks). It feels like a drag to play in a large group and it feels more efficient to play solo-queue overall.

I feel like that if I could group up with friends around my rank that I know I can rely on, that would allow me to better develop my skills as a player. I would also think it would give a fair way to have less instances of disruptive behavior (abusive chat, throwing, etc.) from random players who may be having a bad day. Yeah perhaps it would reshape the scope of the ladder so that in order to reach the highest ranks that you have to group up with players who know well and practice with, but I would argue that the game’s spirit of teamwork was meant for it.

I am probably really crazy for this perception into the balance of Overwatch’s matchmaking. However I see the frequent complaints on these forums about leavers, throwers, “smurfs”, etc. and a lot of players really want a more consistent match experience in their own games. It is my perception, that players feel like their games can feel random and totally out of control when they try to queue solo or duo, but playing in a large group is time-consuming and the difficulty unnaturally increases despite being at the same SR/MMR. Playing in a full 6-stack can feel really great and the games are high quality, just not rewarding when it comes to grinding the Competitive ladder.

p.s. One more thing to note, I say these things with the new Priority Pass feature only being four days old. I agree we all need to see how the system impacts the current nature of the game. I am hoping to get more gameplay in the next few days (right now I am stupid busy as I am on my very last week of college).

Disclaimer to our community, I am forum MVP and I do NOT work for Blizzard. I am just a community member like all of you. I have no direct insight to the decisions of development team. I ask this question on my own behalf for the benefit of the community.

26 Likes

My guess is they will need to change the rewards to 3 passes for a win, and 1 pass for a loss.

5 Likes

so instead of just giving us a soft reset on our off roles u rather place us into the same MMR so we can throw hundreds of games until we are in our real rank? great .

26 Likes

Well, they could make it so that wins and losses are graded more aggressively for a while, to speed up that sorting process.

4 Likes

the fact that u would still start higher than u belong i dont think that would fix the issues.
idk why they just wont let everyone start at 0 when they play their off roles

3 Likes

I think it is important to remember that prior to the introduction of the role queue, the game was already collecting role-specific performance and win rate stats to help shape the SR/MMR for off-roles. Now assuming everything we publicly know about the matchmaker has remained true to this point, a player who has not touched an off-role since the introduction of role queue, any MMR associated with that role should be considered “unstable” and subject to significant swings in MMR/SR gained or lost until the game becomes more sure of their skill. I think this is what Josh Nash means by “grandfathering” the MMR.

Having any sort of reset would result in even more matches that are perceived as one-sided for several weeks or months until everyone’s MMR calms down and settles where it belongs.

9 Likes

You said it yourself. A six stack is going to beat solo queuers. Your SR would inflate artificially from basically being “boosted” by guaranteeing a competent cohesive group every time.

I’m an advocate for a solo SR and group SR, personally. This instantly eliminates boosted players and makes thing as fair as possible.

8 Likes

Splitting up between Solo Queue and Role Queue is a way, but I think the developers have shut down that possibility as they don’t want matchmaking to take even longer to make happen.

As it stands now, is the person who groups up in a 6-stack consistently have the same level of overall skill as that of a person who solo queues consistently? I don’t believe they do and that is what I (personally) think is unfair.

3 Likes

It will balance out when there is finally a sr reset :thinking:

So you guys created a system that can be easily exploited and then tell people not to exploit it?
This is like leaving a plate with cookies to a 5-years-old and ask him not eat them.

9 Likes

Nice! Why do i still queue 5 minutes with pass, when normal queue time is 5 minutes and with pass it says less than 1 minute.

Still takes 5 minutes AND then deducts one pass.

What a shame!

4 Likes

The times displayed are still estimates and will vary. Is this just a one-time instance or are you seeing this consistently throughout your games?

2 Likes

Competitive should always have been solo-queue. Quickplay can allow groups.

It’s too easy for one player to be boosted by another in competitive with grouping enabled, as well as causing dramatic match imbalances when the extreme end of SRs are grouped (the infamous situation of Silver & Diamond icons in the same match)… no a silver and diamond can’t group, but the groups can be formed and paired in such a way that this is the end result.

That match will never be fair or competitive. 6 Golds don’t equal 3 silver and 3 platinum players.


edit: See the post below for an example from the forums!

2 Likes

So I should be subjected that every single match be filled with solo-queue randoms not knowing if any one of them is going to be toxic, uncooperative, plays in a way that I just don’t do well with (and vise versa)?

2 Likes

That’s what the report and avoid systems are for.

…Unless you’re suggesting that they don’t work?

No groups also takes care of boosters, throw stacks, mass false reporting, and unranked to GM (with a grouped pocket support). It actually solves A LOT of behavioral problems that are frequently complained about as well as making the matchmaker’s life easier.

Scrims and pugs are where ACTUAL teamplay happens. Those aren’t restricted.

The ladder must either be solo-only or group-only if there is EVER to be competitive integrity. This mix-and-match combo solo & group ladder DOES NOT work.

2 Likes

last 3 games always the same. I get more or less exactly the queue time that is displayed without ticket.

3 Likes

Report only goes so far because we can’t report players who simply plays badly. I myself rarely report for gameplay sabotage (only for abhorrently blatant feeders, AFKers, or use (or not use) abilities to hinder their allies gameplay).

The Avoid as Teammate function is a short-term function designed to simply get away from a specific player during your current session, however it is limited in order to make sure it does not impact matchmaking. In your proposal of a solo-only experience, this function would nothing to improve consistency in matches because each person will still get 11 total random players in their matches.

The biggest generalized complaint I see on these forums is the consistency of matches. Now, Overwatch tends to be very “snowbally” in general which lends to the perception of imbalanced matches, but that happens at any rank of the ladder or even the Overwatch League. In my opinion, playing with teammates I know I can trust and having a planned strategy is the most definite form of consistency. Where as in a solo-queue only environment the only consistency I can offer is my own mechanical skill and awareness. I don’t think that is right. Feel free to disagree, but given on the dev’s past statements, it sounds like they won’t break up the matchmaker yet again for groups and solo players, and going one way or the other would just be too detrimental to the game’s health.

I am just looking for the game to reward positive teamwork, something that I personally feel that the Solo Queue only environment rarely provides.

Another thing to clarify, I am not necessarily looking for a deliberate change to the system, just get more insight to the matchmaking philosophy to how the game currently stands.

3 Likes

I knew priority pass was gonna change absolutely nothing when I first heard the idea. Priority queue means nothing when everyone has it

4 Likes

Sounds like you may be interested in PUGs and Scrims. Jayne runs these for all levels of play. There IS no such consistency in the ladder, even in the upper levels. Just players that make fewer mistakes.

My suggestion isn’t separate queues… its ONLY solo or group queue. No in-betweens. Wide SR groups throw off the matchmaker and nearly guarantee poor match quality because there appears to be no per-role SR matching… only TEAM SR matching… that works for open queue (kinda) but not for role queue. Nobody can swap in when one player is outmatched by their counterpart.

With a group only queue I would expect them to restrict SR spreads more closely. With a solo only (role) queue, the matchmaker actually has A LOT more latitude to create groups… as long as the opposing group has very close per role SR. Put diamond supports with silver DPS and Plat tanks in one match… it’s all gravy because the enemy will have EXACTLY that as well.