Over 1k players answered to a community survey to figure out the biggest problems affecting Overwatch and the competitive mode. Many solutions proposed.
When playing Overwatch, most of us just want to join a game and try our best to win. We want to find teammates and opponents with the same devotion for the duration of the match. All we want is having fun and enjoying fair games.
Reddit user JR_Shoegazer proposed an impartial survey to the Overwatch community to understand the biggest issues of the game and the possible solutions. I talked with him and asked permission to promote the data he collected - he genuinely wanted to create something helpful for the community.
- Data on players. The survey inquired the players about their current skill rating and the changes with the previous season, main heroes, and if they have alt accounts.
- Problems and solutions. It asked to define the problems affecting the game and the potential solutions, and finally, to rate their satisfaction level with the game and with the Overwatch competitive mode.
1,115 players completed the survey. 26% are Platinum, 21% Gold, and 17% Diamond. The remaining ones are split in the lowest and highest ranks, and 12 of them are even in the top 500.
I am a bit shocked by the number of users with an alt account: 35% of them have at least one.
60% of the player base got a rank similar to the previous season, 15% experienced an increase of 500 points or more, and 8% lost the same amount. The remaining 15% have not played in the current competitive season or must still finish their placement matches.
24% just fill the role needed
We notice an interesting data from the main heroes question: 24% of the applicants don’t have a “main”, but they will play whatever role is needed by the team. If the percentage is the same also on a larger scale, it means we can usually find at least 1 player willing to play any role in all our games.
It isn’t a negative number, but still not a lot in a game with six-men teams. Considering the high amount of One Tricks (more info in the next section), there aren’t enough players willing to sacrifice their own ego for the team in any situation.
Also, we must realize that many flexible players are probably getting tired to swap heroes when required. If things don’t change, they could adjust their behaviour in line with the rest of the community.
Overwatch competitive mode problems
From 1 to 5, the applicants rated their current satisfaction with the Overwatch competitive mode at 3.1, and their overall gaming experience at 4.1.
Let’s talk about the reasoning behind their vote, starting with the problems that are affecting the competitive mode. All participants answered to multiple choice questions, with the ability to choose several.
Toxicity, report system, and SR
As expected, for 63% of them the problem isn’t related to the game but to the toxicity of the community and the inefficiency of the report system. The SR and the matchmaking systems are next with 42% and 30% votes.
Toxicity isn’t something that the developers can easily fix. How can they give us a better community? They can keep refining the matchmaking algorithm, but the real problem is caused by us, the people playing the game.
Punishments can fix our behaviour only up to a certain degree
I have a personal and professional experience with multiple games using a ranked matchmaking, and the report system implemented in Overwatch is very advanced compared to others.
You can effectively explain what’s the reason behind the report. What we probably need are harsher punishments for those that go against the rules regularly.
30% of the community thinks One Tricks are plaguing the game. We use this term when referring to players that know how to play only one hero and in a single way. They refuse to swap it according to the needing of the team.
Often, these players don’t even take advantage of the entire kit at the disposal of their hero, but just use a single strategy they have mastered over time.
They can rank up quickly because their stats and proficiency with that hero dramatically increase, but they lack any kind of versatility and can cause issues within the team.
How many times did you flame players that refuse to change hero even if the opponents got perfect picks to counter them?
Patches, balances, and smurfs
The remaining answers have been selected about 20% of the time. We can’t blame the Overwatch team as they constantly keep balancing the heroes, fixing bugs, and creating new content during the year.
The smurfs are the real issue. For those that don’t know the term, smurfs are higher level people that play at lower ranks. A Master playing in Gold or Platinum is definitely stronger than any other player in the team.
From this survey we learned that 35% of the participants have alt accounts. Not all of them are smurfs, but depending on the SR range we could potentially find one in almost every game.
Overwatch general problems
Regarding the issues that are affecting the game in general, we notice that all answers are barely marked, but there are two in particular that are consistently picked.
Toxicity and report system
Once again, the toxicity of the players and the report system are first with 69% of the votes, while hero balancing is second with 26.6%.
We have already talked about the first two and according to this survey they have pretty much the same impact in competitive and casual modes.
Hero balancing is an issue unreasonable to resolve altogether. As the number of heroes and maps increases, balancing the game becomes increasingly difficult.
A hero can be strong in a particular map design, or be a perfect counter in a certain meta, but simultaneously be useless in another map and in the next meta.
Devs will continue adjusting and reworking skills, but what we must understand is that a perfect balance can’t be achieved.
Lack of news
Some voted the lack of new heroes and maps, events, skins, and casual modes, but I think we already have a lot of special events and skins released along the year.
Instead of having more modes and heroes, I would prefer if the Overwatch team uses their time to adjust the current ones.
41.6% of the voters said Quick Play is as good as it should be, 53.7% voted it to appear too casual, and only 4.5% stated it is too competitive.
My opinion is that Quick Play is fun, but I rarely play it, and only when testing particular heroes or trying combos with friends.
Those preferring Quick Play to the competitive mode perhaps consider it too casual as they want more cooperation in their matches, without the try-harding required by the ranked mode.
Solutions to improve Overwatch
Low Priority queue for toxic players
68% asked for a low priority system for toxic players, similar to the one used in Dota 2. I have experience in Dota, and I can affirm that it isn’t of great help.
It doesn’t change the behaviour of the players, but it tries to be such a terrible ordeal they will think two times before committing the same crime again.
In the Dota 2 low pool you must win a determinate number of games to be free. If the entire enemy team leaves the game before the end of the match, it won’t be counted and you need to play more. Dota 2 games are also longer than Overwatch ones, so sometimes you just waste 45 minutes - 1 hour for nothing.
I know that it sounds weird, but the people playing in low queue often leave the match when they are losing. They want to deny the opponent the chance to complete the game and finish their punishment. This is the best example to explain who are the toxic players.
56% of the applicants wants a commendation system for good players like the one in CS:GO.
I don’t think this sort of system can have a real impact on the game because it can be abused. If the developers give a real weight to the commends received, people will just start “trading” them in-game. Commend 4 Commend - pls add me.
Report system and bans
A better report system and stricter bans received 44% and 43% votes. I also agree with the urgency to increase the punishments for those that troll, grief, go afk, and purposely throw the game. If people can’t play with others, they should at least be banned from the competitive play.
A role queue is another popular option with 45% of the votes. When queuing for a game you should also choose one or two roles you wish to play, and the game will match you to create a balanced team.
League of Legends added this feature with the 2016 season update: you can select your primary and secondary roles, the position on the map, and more.
- All roles covered. Regardless of the results in that game, I think it could help Overwatch to guarantee there is at least a healer and a tank in each match. Of course, even if I love the 2-2-2 split, developers can’t enforce it.
In general, I think we will be fine if at least one position for each role is covered. And as you have to select two roles, the system can more easily create good lineups.
- Template queue. Alternatively, we could create a template queue in which you can select the split you prefer. This system would greatly extend the queue times, but it is worth considering if it can lead to better games.
Previously, we have talked about players willing to fill any role for the sake of the team. Surely they won’t perform as well as someone who mains that particular role or character. A role queue would solve also this issue.
A solo queue is a solution asked by 43% of the voters. With a strict solo queue you are matched only with and against other solo players while the party queue is separated.
Overall, it would be a nice addition as parties can really unbalance the games, particularly in the competitive mode. Of course, we also need a separate rating for solo players and one for stacks.
Adjust or remove the performance-based SR system
30% of the applicants asked to adjust the performance-based SR system, and 30% more to remove it. This is a tough decision.
The devs can keep improving it, but reaching a perfect one is inconceivable, and at the same time we shouldn’t just get rid of it. Any system used to determine our SR will always have flaws that can be exploited.
Transparency, patches, and smurfs
About 25% of the players asked for more transparency from the Overwatch development team and faster patches.
In my opinion they are already doing a great job. In some games, like Dota 2, the amount of communication between player base and developers is almost near 0.
We talked about the smurfs problem before, and 27% of the voters wants to limit it by forcing one account per phone number. I am not sure how much this will help as getting a second phone number is easy and inexpensive.
Still, it could be easily implemented, so why not?
Finally, an “Overwatch” system similar to CS:GO received 22.2% of the votes.
For those unaware, the “Overwatch” system is a way for the community to regulate itself. Experienced and qualified members of the community can review the reports, watch the replays, and apply temporary bans if necessary.
They receive a determinate amount of cases to review according to their performance and behaviour. Only those who have a good conduct may use it - the skill rating doesn’t matter.
If you are a toxic player who receives many reports, don’t expect to have this privilege. Moreover, the bans must be appropriate and thought out well: if you abuse the system you will soon lose all rights to it.
Vincenzo is an esports writer with five years of experience. Former head editor for Natus Vincere, he has produced content for DreamHack, FACEIT, DOTAFire, 2P, and more. Follow him on @SkulzDota.