The PUBG devs held an Ask Me Anything event on Ranked Mode

17:00, 25 Jul 2020

With the release of PUBG: Season 8, the new Ranked Mode received some much-needed changes and improvements. In celebration, four members of the Ranked Mode dev team hosted an Ask Me Anything (AMA) event in the PUBATTLEGROUNDS subreddit. Here, they spent over five hours answering community questions on Ranked Mode. These questions ranged from Ranked Solos and Duos to skill-based matchmaking (SBMM), all the way to their favourite pizza toppings. To top it all off, PUBG Corp sponsored the event with a massive giveaway. 25 PC players and 25 Console players that participated in the AMA were gifted a code for a free Season 8 Survivor Pass.

These questions and answers provided an inside look into the mentality of the Ranked Mode dev team. We now have a better idea of why Ranked Mode is the way it is and what to expect for the future of this competitive playlist.

Let’s break it all down.

The Participants

The four developers participating in the AMA are:

Jin Hwang - Game Design on Ranked

Maynard Price - Game Design on Ranked

Nick Kaloyeros - Visual Design on Ranked

Josh Cookfair - Creative Lead on Ranked 

Do the Developers Themselves Play Ranked Mode?

No better way to break the ice than with a question everyone wants to know. Do the developers actually play the game? 

A lot of people forget that oftentimes, the developers themselves are the biggest fans of the game. The people working on the game know it better than anyone and are usually pretty talented at it. Some may remember the recent VALORANT Dev vs. Streamer match. Five VALORANT devs matched up against former CS:GO pros and top streamers. Shroud, Summit1g and Dizzy were a few of the names present. The developers absolutely crushed them. Even ex-CS:GO pros — guys that game for a living were no match for the people that made the game.

In response to the question, Mr Kaloyeros described the skill level breakdown in the office. Kaloyeros wrote that “quite a few” people in the office Play Ranked Mode. Kaloyeros humbly presented himself as “one of the worst” and claims to hover around the Low Gold bracket. 

However, there is a more hardcore group among the team. Kaloyerous says that there’s a group of console players among them that run Ranked at least three times each week. Then there are the PC players, like the Community Manager, Hawkinz, and Community Coordinator, Andymh5s. These individuals are so good, it’s just not fun to play against them.

PUBG Ranked Mode

The Long Term Goal for Ranked Mode’s Ruleset

u/Dr_Survivor asked why the SUPER Settings (PUBG Esports’ ruleset) differs from Ranked Mode’s ruleset. Mr. Prince replied that their long term goal is to unify the PUBG Esports ruleset with the Ranked Mode ruleset. He states that they don’t believe either ruleset is perfect, hence the lack of unification. The Ranked dev team is using this as an opportunity for experimentation.

Prince goes on to say that some patches might see the SUPER ruleset move closer to the Ranked Mode ruleset. Others may see the Ranked Mode ruleset closer align with the SUPER ruleset. Eventually, they will both meet in the middle, and from there, “ideally stay as close together as possible.” Prince ends with an example of this. Vehicle spawns in Season 8 Ranked Mode have been changed so that they more closely resemble the vehicle spawns of PUBG Esports.

Addressing Hacker and Cheaters

In the same post, u/Dr_Survivor asked how the dev team plans to address the presence of hackers and cheaters.

Prince gave the cookie-cutter “we are continuously looking into ways to limit the activities of cheaters” answer, but then elaborated with some more detail. In Season 8, a Survivor Mastery (SM) of 40 is required to search in Ranked Mode. Plus, there is now a hard cap on how quickly SM XP can be earned. These changes will make it more difficult for cheaters to enter ranked while also thwarting their rapid XP gains.

The dev team is hesitant to raise this requirement any higher. Based on their data, a surprisingly high number of legitimate players have fairly low Survivor Mastery levels. Making it any more tedious to play Ranked would hurt the honest playerbase.

PUBG Ranked Mode

Season Rewards for Each Tier?

Right now, Gold players receive the same end-of-season rewards as players in Master tier. One Redditor asked if the dev team has any intentions of granting rewards unique to specific tiers. 

Jin Hwang expressed understanding that as the system stands, the lack of high-tier rewards disincentivizes players. Hwang claims that the Ranked reward system will continue to be adjusted, with added milestones for players of all ranks.

Ranked Solos and Duos

One of the more popular questions was, “when are we getting Ranked Solos/Duos?” Prince took the question on, responding, “although we’re not able to give you an exact date at the moment, we promise that this is being looked into as a high priority.”

Prince was enthusiastic about how much he’d like to add Ranked Solos. Prince said that a lot of the people in the office are Solo players. He would have loved to have Solos ready at launch.

In the end, the Ranked dev team had to take the safe route. Squads is far and away the most popular game mode. The team wanted to ensure stability at the start, and Squads only permitted that. Prince claimed that Solos and Duos will both release one day, as long as it’s possible in a healthy fashion.

However, things don’t sound as reassuring for Duos. In a prior AMA, Studio Director, Brian Corrigan said this in response to a question on Ranked Duos.

No plans at this time.  It's not really something we're deciding, it's something the players have ultimately decided. We have significantly less duo players than squad players. If the number of normal duos for some reason goes up significantly we'd definitely open up a queue.

Corrigan shifts the blame on the community, claiming that the playerbase for Ranked Duos just isn’t there. This could very well be true, based on player counts and the presence of AI bots in the standard playlists.

PUBG Ranked Mode

Block and Avoid Teammate Feature

A user asked about the possibility of an “avoid teammate” feature for Ranked Mode. Toxic teammates are inevitable, but most other games have an option to block and avoid them. Currently, PUBG does not.

Jin Hwang expressed sympathy regarding the toxic teammates. According to Hwang a block/avoid teammate feature is in the works and will be released in a future season.

Along with this feature, players will be able to search for specific teammates based on a list of parameters, one being language.

Skill-Based Matchmaking in Ranked

Right now, skill-based matchmaking is sort of missing from Ranked Mode. Gold players find themselves in the same lobbies as the top 500 players in the world. As one would guess, the Gold players don’t stand much of a chance.

Prince replied that the strength of SBMM is determined by the number of players playing at that time. In regions like China, SBMM works great because their player count numbers are very high. In other regions, like North America, the player count in Ranked Mode is significantly less. This requires the matchmaking algorithm to search wider in order to make a match. This is why there is sometimes such a disparity in the ranks.

Despite this dilemma, the team is taking steps to improve this experience. Starting in Season 8, players will receive bonus points for taking down higher-ranked players. This should help offset some of the frustration in rank disparity. They will continue to pursue ways to make Ranked matchmaking feel better.

RP Change Calculation

In response to a question on how rank is calculated, Prince from the Ranked dev team wrote, 

The way the RP change calculation for Ranked works involves comparing the possible ‘points’ that have been earned from kills, assists, and placement with a players current RP and then making an adjustment based on how far above or below the ‘expected performance’ the player actually ended up. The amount of points that it is possible to earn from each of these metrics is limited, and the expected performance takes that limitation into account.

Prince dove deeper with examples. Once a player has reached a certain rank, max points in a few categories with none in others won't rank players up. A player could have max kill points and max placement points but they still won’t rank up without points from other sources. This prevents players on extreme ends of the spectrum from being awarded for their cheesy strategies. Hot-dropping, killing and dying/hiding and never fighting will be punished. Players will need to have skills all-around to reach the top ranks.

PUBG Ranked Mode

Rank Forgiveness

Games like Apex Legends have Rank Forgiveness features. If you lag out or disconnect to no fault on your own, your rank won’t be negatively affected. PUBG plans to implement a similar feature, but for cheaters.

It can be soul-crushing to have a great game ruined by a hacker or cheater. The developers are working on a system that will compensate players and forgive rank loss in instances of cheating.

Favourite Pizza Toppings?

One of the less serious questions proposed to the Ranked Mode dev team was “what are your favourite pizza toppings and why?”

Kaloyeros exclaimed, “anything but anchovies.” Controversially, Hwang claimed to enjoy pineapple and ham the most. Finally, Prince remarked, “there are other toppings besides pepperoni?”

That about wraps up the PUBG AMA - Ranked Mode edition. The developers answered a whole bunch of questions and provided loads of exciting new information. We’d like to thank these fine developers for taking the time out of their busy day to chat with the community. The future of PUBG Ranked Mode looks bright.


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Images via PUBG Corporation

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