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In Which I Rage-Quit Overwatch

If you’re into video games, you’re most likely aware of Overwatch. Maybe you’ve played it. If you have, you know why it won Game of the Year at The Game Awards. It’s a simple-to-play, fun game that requires some quick thinking and competent, coordinated team play. I had been playing Overwatch since early summer. Notice I wrote, “had been” playing.

A few nights ago, I snapped and rage-quit Overwatch. I did it mostly out of frustration with two things: Skill ratings (SR) and extended losing streaks. In the end, I was simply not having fun. This is a shame and something that I’ve never actually come across in a video game.

First, assuming you’re familiar with the game, let me tell you about who I was on the game. I was a good teammate, I used a mic, and I paid close attention to the team comp including making adjustments as the game went along. I “mained” Lucio, Zenyatta, Soldier 76 (even before the recent buff!), and Zarya. This season I expanded to main D. Va., and Tracer. I was a 2800 SR last season, with a solid eliminations/deaths ration and winning percentage. I think I was moderately successful and had a decent time. I write this so you don’t think I’m a bronze-level player with sour grapes.

So what happened?

It comes down to a dichotomy; a contradiction in the SR system itself. In instituting the SR system, Blizzard shows it isn’t sure if Overwatch is a team sport or if it is an individual sport. Why do I say this? Well, the SR is based on your skill, isn’t it? But what if you never win a game but you’re still good? You would have an incredibly low SR. Now, let’s say you’re terrible but you roll with a group of 6 that is incredibly talented and cohesive. You’d have a high SR or at least one out of proportion with your actual abilities. Blizzard’s queuing system controls for this in some ways but in the end, your personal SR is based almost entirely on whether your team – random strangers, in many cases - is good enough to win. And I mean, “win” because you get 0 SR points for a well-played loss or draw.

Then, enter the placement system for matches. It’s based on your SR. And I get the intent here. You want equally matched teams playing. But something is wrong. I’ve talked to many players that will go on these incredible losing streaks. I myself have been on them. 10 games at a time; sometimes more. I talked to a player 4 nights ago who lost 12 straight. I can’t think of a game that works like that. Sure, maybe you’ll lose 4 or 5 in Call of Duty but 12 in a row? No way. And multiple times? I’ve never seen it.

Some final points to highlight other problems. First, people quitting games – placement ranking games – is out of control. Once a player leaves your match, you’re done and your SR goes down. It happened in 30% of my placement ranking matches. Second, if a player has a great individual match but loses, it seems weird to punish their SR. The same goes for a draw. Finally, if you have players that make bad decisions, like Bastion or an attack Symmetra, your SR takes a hit because an attack Symmetra, for example, means you lose.

I’m not taking crazy pills here. I’m not alone. Others are as confused as me. Is the SR indicative of your individual skill or is it your rating for being on a team and winning? It can’t be both but Blizzard wants it to be the former when it’s really the latter.

One of my teammates tried to get me to not rage-quit. His advice was to ignore the SR system. But I can’t. It’s like a splinter in my mind. I know I’m being judged and I don’t like the criteria. And on top of that, the losing streaks just did me in. Overwatch just wasn’t fun anymore.

I think it all comes down to the SR system. I feel like it takes the fun out of Overwatch. You can say that I shouldn’t feel the way I do. Maybe you’re right. But I know I’m right when I say the SR system and placement system are broken. And I know if I’m not having fun I need to move on.

  1. Yes, I know, I haven’t posted much about InfoSec lately. I hear you.

  2. Thank you for keeping me in your sarcastic thoughts and prayers during this troubling time.

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