Kaplan denied voice or text chat being used in Overwatch's algorithm.

12:44, 22 Sep 2020

The discussion of skill-based matchmaking (SBMM) is flaring all over the gaming scene. Now it has arrived in Overwatch with fans trying to figure out the unknown properties by which they are put into games and get to climb the ladder by. Head developer and Vice President of Blizzard Entertainment Jeff Kaplan stepped in to explain the actual parameters which Overwatch uses to match people up in ranked games.

Yesterday, Twitter user PrototypeOW found a patent from Activision Blizzard which according to them stated that the developer “retained small pieces of data (i.e. voicechat use, chat use, ragequitting) in conjunction with actual performance to put you in games with even chances.” 

PrototypeOW argued that this patent had been used for the Overwatch matchmaking, relating it to all kinds of phenomena that players said to encounter in their ranked experience.

They said: “The matchmaking patent states that worse players are put on the same team as players more skilled than themselves to make games as even as possible. this is done to retain players, and according to the data in the patent, it works. This would prove the existence of a "main account curse". The data is more accurate, so you're put in games that are more likely to have an even chance of winning, but if you're on a fresh account with fewer points of data, it's easier to go against the system.”

In the reddit thread about PrototypeOW’s Twitter thread, Jeff Kaplan stated that neither voice nor text chat was used to match people in ranked matches. According to Kaplan, the only aspects considered are matchmaking rating, the region the player plays in and the ping people had to the respective server.

Kaplan admitted this to be a summary of points lacking detail and also didn’t directly comment on the points raised as to how win and loss streaks potentially determined what kind of opponents you’d be matched against. It stands to reason that an algorithm that aims to create fair matches would also take win and loss records into account, matching people in a way that would allow them to play in matches which would bring them closer to the desired 50% win rate for the general player base.

The topic of skill-based matchmaking has recently sparked a debate in the Call of Duty but also the Apex Legends scene, with some parts of both communities speaking out against the matchmaking algorithm. Other prominent figures like fighting game star player William "Leffen" Hjelte had weighed in on the debate in support of SBMM.

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