Engagement optimized design is ruining everything it touches. Everything is a sweat-fest to frustrate the player into another match or feeding a player accounts of demonstrably lower skill to keep them online (engaged). The entire multiplayer experience feels synthetic, like a bizarre house of mirrors where skill is only measurable to those who are really dedicated to the game and that aspect of it is fun, the skill measuring being hard but everything else just feels disgusting and manipulated.
Also, this should be properly contextualize balance changes for the youngins. Balance has basically zero to do with the community and it has everything to do with drawing players back in and maintaining engagement for high level players. This is why certain things are just going to stay the same and will only get worse. Don’t complain about how x is broken, it was made that way to keep you engaged. Engaged does not mean fun, by the way.
As somebody who has played this franchise for decades and has watched it constantly be mismanaged in everything from software development to literal cheating scandals that ruined people lives and destroyed the franchise, I just see it all as intentional now and it makes me quite despondent. Then the player base is ruthless gaslighted into fighting itself over an intensely flawed matchmaking system, not because it doesn’t measure skill effectively but because it is so profoundly manipulative… oh wait, that’s the same thing.
I’m tired of it. It’s intellectually disingenuous, if I’m inclined to be charitable. What runs the matchmaking algorithm is a churn prediction model, your MMR has very little to do with your skill, functionally speaking. In practice, it has everything to do with it but mathematically it’s a contrivance. It really is fascinating. There are associated tags with given MMR ranges as well that allow the matchmaker to more optimally match you with an engaging game. It all makes sense, sort of. However this is why many players of all levels get that weird feeling eventually, like you can predict what race the MM will pair you with next based off of your own performance. That is because you can, because you notice that your account is currently in a Test Case. Stomp a x player badly in your division? Prepare for 3 - 5 or so games against x. Win them all? Final test case. Win that? Re-test with new race pairs. There’s marginal variability in this pattern but, that’s pretty much it.
Learn the pattern and manipulating the ladder becomes absurdly easy. Further, given the entire MM is a machine-learning algorithm that merely constantly searches for the best player, in the entire player base, 24/7/365 and we actually have a very stupid system that is incredibly frustrating for the entire player base.
I don’t think is this the way to match people. I don’t think it’s fun. I don’t think it helps people improve and to be quite frank I think it violates public policy. As some people that run this algorithm, bet on some of these games which is a crime.
Oh and the doctoral dissertation explaining modern matchmaking is licensed under creative commons.
“EOMM: An Engagement Optimized Matchmaking Framework” by Zhengxing Chen, Su Xue, John Kolen, Navid Aghdaie, Kazi A. Zaman, Yizhou Sun, Magy Seif El-Nasr
I’m really not cool with this. As a father and human being.