Today’s update is once again centered on improving our Matchmaking system, focusing primarily on fixing issues that arose from our previous update.
We understand that some players, especially at the high end, have experienced a significant drop in matchmaking quality as a result of our recent iterations. We appreciate all of the feedback and match IDs that we’ve been receiving—your input has been very helpful and we hope you’ll continue to give us feedback after this update as well. We are committed to making matchmaking as good as it can be.
Please check out some more detailed information on the different aspects of today’s update below.
High MMR Partying
Due to the unusually high frequency of matchmaking abuses found in party games in high level matches–we’re adding a new rule to party matchmaking for Immortal ranks to help reduce some of the negative behaviors that have become common at these ranks and to help make solo queuing more viable. For any party that includes an Immortal player, every player in that party will be considered the same rank as the highest player in that party. While this will significantly reduce some of the more common abuse scenarios, the trade-off is that it will also affect “normal” parties with large MMR disparities. We think this trade-off is worthwhile at this high level, however, because matches are unlikely to be of high quality anyways with extremely disparate skill levels within a party given the shallow pool available. Such disparity has often made the games less fun for most players involved. We expect that this will have the net effect of reducing the number of party games at the highest skill levels by some amount, but compared to how infrequent high-MMR party games were in the past, the number of party games should still be higher than the historical average.
We are making changes regarding what solo and party matchups are allowed. For any five-player party, they will now only be matched against other five-player parties, regardless of any other matchmaking consideration. We are unsure if an absolute requirement like this will result in net higher quality matchmaking due to the more limited opponent spectrum available in that case, but we know this is an aspect the community talks about often and we are going to do our best to work within those constraints. Similarly, any solo player will now only ever be considered for matches against at most one party of two. This means that from a solo player’s perspective, matches will always be either against a team of all five solo players or against three solo players and one party of two. This will be a hard requirement for the matchmaker instead of a situational consideration.
Match Quality and Role Symmetry
As a result of some of the new features we added recently, we found numerous bugs in the matchmaker’s evaluation that caused it to incorrectly rank various considerations. We’ve fixed those bugs and are expecting them to have a notable improvement in matchmaking. We will be monitoring the system after release to make sure the fixes have the intended effect. It is possible that there will be more issues to work out, so if you notice anything too far off please let us know.
We’ve also done various tuning to make Role Symmetry perform better, as there have been a few cases at certain brackets where it did not do a good job at all.
Finally, we are putting a bigger emphasis on having supports not be the highest MMR players in a game, to the extent that it’s possible within parties. We’ve heard feedback from both core and support players that they would prefer the intra-match rank allocation to be that way.
We are back to 5 stars per medal now, 7 stars didn’t add enough upside compared to the visual noise and confusion.
In previous ranked seasons we’ve had a mechanism that caused the rank ranges that a given medal represents to shift over the season. While this gave some loose sense of progression, it made comprehension of what medals represent more difficult. It especially caused confusion after calibration where most players dropped medals despite winning most of their games.
As a result of removing this mechanism, and the star count re-scale, we are rebalancing what MMR range each medal represents. The distribution model we are using for this is the curve we had in the final months of the previous season (and what we’ve had historically). This will help ensure that medals long term represent the same skill level at the beginning of the season as they do at the end.
We are expecting there to be some confusion as a result of this rebalancing, since most players’ medals will be adjusted upwards somewhat to be more in tune with what the medals meant at the end of last season, but there is no actual change to anyone’s MMR number.
In the past, once a player reached a certain rank medal, they would retain that medal for the remainder of the ranked season, even if their actual MMR fell dramatically below that medal’s threshold. With today’s update, your medal will no longer represent a strict high-water mark. Instead, if you are ever more than one star away from your actual current rank, your medal will be adjusted to reflect that.
We originally added the high water mark because we thought it helped with player anxiety in ranked games. We think that is still true to some degree, however our data suggests that a one-star buffer captures most of that benefit for the majority of players. There are multiple downsides with having too broad of a spectrum on the high-water mark. First, it makes match fairness really hard to evaluate, because we always match based on MMR and not medals, and thus sometimes a game can appear to be good or bad as a result of the medals not representing reality. As it relates to the above goal in making it easier to evaluate matches, we think a one-star buffer helps balance both goals.
The second benefit is that it makes account buying indirectly less valuable. A player can no longer be on another account and keep a high medal for an entire season. Moreover, this change will also work in conjunction with the smurf detection system we’ve been working on. We are currently only using smurf detection to increase ranks upwards to the correct levels, but soon we plan to have it work in the reverse direction as well. With high-water marks only holding onto one star’s worth of a buffer, boosted or purchased accounts will now fall faster and lose the medal along with them.
Post-Game Match Evaluation
We’re very thankful for the feedback we’ve received in the last few weeks. We think the feedback people had was well rooted in real issues. In our eyes, creating high quality matches is the most important thing we can do to help players enjoy the game, and we’re committed to improving our matchmaking system to achieve that goal.
In an effort to help facilitate the discussions on matchmaking, we’ve made a couple small changes to the post-game screen. The post-game screen will now show the average and max queue times for players in the match to help you determine if we formed a bad match too quickly or not. A summarized behavior category of the match will also be displayed, to help players understand if the reason for the lack of a better match was a shallower pool as a result of poor behavior or if it was because of the matchmaker doing a bad job. Finally, we are sorting the list of players in the post game screen from left to right with position 1 through 5 (parties will have a new type of indicator on them still so you can still see what the allocations were). We are hoping this makes it easier for you to evaluate if Role Symmetry is working as expected or not.
We recognize that adding more information here may cause a short-term increase in complaints rather than a decrease, but our long-term goal is to create the highest quality matches, and having more information exposed to players will ultimately lead to that end.
We’ve added a new post-game survey that is similar to ones we had a long time ago. Once a match has concluded, players will sometimes be surveyed to rate the experience in a match. This will allow us to gather more player sentiments on match quality to help find common patterns to what makes matches enjoyable vs what makes them unenjoyable. It’ll also help us find bugs or mistakes in our decisions sooner than later. Of course it’s natural that players will be more likely to equate winning a match to having a good match and losing a match to having a bad match, so we’ll normalize the data for those obvious scenarios to help filter through the background noise and bubble up useful signals. We’ll hold off on enabling this survey for a few days, to work through some bugs and update-related issues first.
Communication with Low Behavior Score
Our last update included a wave of bans on users that were at the very extreme edge of the player population in terms of toxicity and negative behavior. However, those bans affected only a very small percentage of all players, and we also wanted a more gradual system to address players that are not at the furthest extreme but are still big outliers from the general player population. To that end, players that have a behavior score below 3000 are no longer able to use chat or voice until their score rises above the acceptable threshold. We believe this more gradual user-facing reinforcement mechanism will be valuable for both protecting the larger population from outliers and as a warning system for players who are moving in the wrong direction that might encourage them to improve. We set the threshold score at 3000 due to the low probability that anyone would be that low without having had a consistently negative impact on the experiences of many different teammates.
As we’ve mentioned, extremely large MMR spreads within a party makes it hard for the matchmaker to find compatible opponents, and even in cases where it can, the matches are not necessarily enjoyable for the players involved due to some players having low impact/agency in the game while others have an outsized one. We recognize, however, that players still want to play with friends, so this aspect is not without trade-offs. To help address that, we’re reducing the acceptable MMR spread within a party from 2800 to 2000. We’ll consider further reductions to this spread over time, as the current value is still quite large, but we’d like to find the correct balance incrementally. This limitation only applies to ranked matchmaking.
Core Matchmaking Code
We’ve made a significant revision to how the heart of the matchmaker iterates through the many players that are queuing at any given time. This revision restructures the matchmaker’s search process to have more flexibility with how considers the increasing number of requirements. Because the matchmaker must segment the large number of players into smaller combinations to consider, it was possible that the list of evaluable matches weren’t the highest quality in cases where the matchmaker excluded players due to soft considerations early in the process. Previously it was not very efficient if there were too many considerations within a team and against a team. Because of the nature of this rewrite, we are expecting there to be bugs for the next few days that may cause matchmaking to be sub-optimal, but are hopeful that this investment will allow us to more easily increase matchmaking quality in the long run.
Reports and Player Bans
This update will remove some methods of reporting that were not rate limited in order to improve the signal-to-noise ratio, especially at the conclusion of a game.
We have also been refining our booster and exploiter detection algorithms and have been doing regular ban waves in the background. We will continue refining these systems over the coming weeks. Banned players will also no longer show up or consume rank spots on the leaderboard. This fix was implemented a few days ago, as some of you may have noticed due to leaderboard ranking shifts.
We are expecting the next day or two to be a little unstable as we iron out issues with the update, but after that we’d appreciate continuing with the feedback on your match experiences. Please make sure to always include a matchid with your feedback, as we often find them missing that crucial data needed to follow up.
Our focus going into the next few weeks will be on monitoring and measuring the results of this update and following up as needed based on what we learn. The other big category we are going to be focusing on soon is revamping the new player experience for an update in the future. In addition, a lot of the ongoing work we are doing on smurf detection will indirectly help us in the future with placing new players into more ideal matches once they’ve completed their initial new player experience phase. We are hoping that after we get matchmaking into a better spot, it’ll be an ideal time for brand new players to join in as well as for existing players to invite their friends into the game with the help of a better new player ramp.
Today’s patch brings a few features to Dota Plus in the wake of the Battle Pass season, as well as the addition of all-new item sets for Lion, Slardar, and Crystal Maiden to the Dota Plus Rewards section.
Plus subscribers can now use the Avoid Player feature to exclude unwanted players from their matchmaking pool, get precise stacking info with the Creep Pull Timers, ward more effectively with the Ward Suggestions, and see your total incoming damage breakdown by type.
This update also replaces the old machine learning hero suggestions with the Friends and Foes feature from the Battle Pass, transfers some new Chat Wheel Sounds into your Dota Plus reward options, and adds the ability to customize your Chat Wheel phrases with emoticons.
To top it off, we’ve also introduced the Season 4 Matchmaking Quests and some new hero quests to add some more ways to bump up the number of shards in your stash, and players who queue into the Hard Support role in Ranked Matchmaking can even earn bonus shards.
Lastly, this year’s Trove Carafe will only be available for two more weeks, so players still interested in purchasing should make sure to snag some treasure before it’s gone.
The new Ranked season is here. Today’s blog will go over the changes we are doing as well as areas we are still thinking about. The changes in this update will be rolled out gradually over the next two days as we iron out bugs. The calibration part of the new season will begin this Thursday.
One big observation that we had since the previous update was that matches with misaligned roles had a meaningful impact on game quality. An example of this is when the mid player for one team has the highest rank on their team, and the mid player on the other team has the lowest rank. This tended to cause games to be really volatile and not enjoyable. In the past we used to prioritize rank spread between the two teams as one of the main criteria for the matchmaker to judge success, however as part of this update we are changing its priorities. It will now put a big emphasis on making sure that the roles are more symmetric rather than other criteria. This will also be something we will continue to tweak and iterate on over the coming weeks to make sure the algorithm’s search structure is correctly tuned and optimized for this.
Draft Role Report
To help ensure everyone plays the role they queued for, this update includes a role report function during the drafting and beginning minutes of the game. Starting with today’s update, using this information along with some other detection mechanisms, we will be much more aggressive in punishing players who abuse the system.
Core and Support Ranks
Some baseline dota skills and knowledge are shared between the Support and Core roles. So having the two numbers be entirely separated didn’t seem like a good idea to us, as we’d be losing valuable information about the player as well as promoting some warped incentives when you play your least used roles. As such, when you win or lose a game queued as one type of role, we’ll also update the MMR of the other type by a percentage of that game’s gains or losses. We’ll be tweaking that ratio over time as we figure out the best balance.
This update includes a few different ban waves for bad actors. The first ban wave is to players with exceptionally low behavior scores. We will continue to do regular ban waves for users who fall into this small percentage of the community. Users that reach this low level of behavior in the game are too big of a tax on the rest of the community and are not wanted. The second case where users will be banned today is for anyone detected of violating the Steam Service Agreement that prevents the purchase or sale of Steam accounts. Buying accounts to get a higher or lower rank is not allowed and causes negative side effects for the play experience of others. This doesn’t catch all account sales that happen, but we think we have caught enough to take some action. We are also banning players who’ve been detected using exploits to gain an advantage over other players. In the coming weeks, we will be refining the detection algorithms for these abusive behaviors and will begin issuing weekly bans that will go into effect without advance notice to violating accounts. Accounts that we ban will now also have the associated phone number permanently blacklisted from being able to have access to ranked matchmaking.
We recognize that recently there has been an increase in smurf accounts. We share the sentiments the community has expressed on this issue and we consider it a high priority for us to solve as well. There isn’t a single solution that can address this issue easily, but we hope that a combination of multiple different changes over time will reduce the negative impacts and frequency of it.
The first change in this area is the usage of phone number verification. We’ve found a loophole that allowed a large number of users to play ranked without a unique phone number attached. We have fixed this bug and any user that does not have their account set up correctly will be prevented from queuing until it is resolved. This will also affect accounts that have been actively playing in ranked matchmaking, rather than just new accounts going forward.
We are also changing the mechanism to grant Ranked access. Rather than a fixed number of games, we are changing the metric to be a time based one and increased that amount to 100 hours of playtime. Any users that already have access to ranked without meeting this requirement will be removed from ranked until they’ve played enough time.
Our general approach to Smurfs is to try to get accounts that are performing higher than expected to their correct rank faster. The first change on this axis is to adjust MMR by more than just +/- 25 when we detect that a user has been clearly over performing (based on how the played heroes usually perform at a given rank). This will be an ongoing process as we get better at detecting this, but from the data analysis we’ve done so far, we think we can make some progress using this. This change will be silent for a few days as we verify the detection mechanism is working as intended, and will be enabled once that is verified. The other change we are making is how we calibrate the initial ranked MMR for new accounts entering ranked. Leveraging the new hours played gate we are adding for ranked access, we will be using your account’s historical performance more aggressively to place you into a more accurate initial rank. In the past we introduced a really low cap on initial rank, we think that was a mistake on our part, because it caused smurfs to unnecessarily impact a large volume of games before arriving at a closer-to-accurate rank.
Moving forward, we will be spending more time on live detection of smurfing and boosting behaviors. This will hopefully allow us to put detected accounts into an aggressive recalibration, resulting in a much quicker adjustment to an accurate MMR while reducing the number of games that are ruined in the process. In addition to this aggressive recalibration, we’ll also be detecting and banning accounts for egregious boosting or exploiting of game mechanics.
To help reduce role confusion when queuing as a party, we’ve added a detailed popup for times when your party’s selected roles are incompatible, such as when two players have only selected the same role.
While this update is banning extremely low behavior score players, we’ve also increased the number of commends available for each player so you can recognize good behavior in your games as well.
There are a few other general changes that we are not sure are needed yet or haven’t been able to address yet, but are on our radar. We thought it might be a good idea to supplement this blog with information in the hope that community conversation about it can be helpful.
– High MMR games: While we have some changes here that directly and indirectly improve matchmaking quality for the extremely high end bracket, we will be closely monitoring this to see if other changes are needed.
– Hard Support: For certain MMR brackets, queue times and game quality would be meaningfully improved if there were a bigger percentage of players queuing for Hard Support. Many of the subpar matches we’ve found were a result of there not being enough players queuing for this role. We are exploring to see if any solutions can be effective for incentivising this. We also know that it is more common that you’ll get Hard Support if you queue for all the roles, and we’d like that to eventually not be the case.
– Role queue abuse: As mentioned above, we’ll be much more aggressive in punishing players who don’t play the role they’ve queued for. If we find that role abuse persists despite these efforts, we’ll consider implementing role-specific bans that prevent a user from queuing for the abused role in future matchmaking games after they’ve left low priority. Our hope is that implementing such measures will be unnecessary as the results of our other changes.
– Smurfs: Dota 2 being a free-to-play game introduces various matchmaking related challenges. One option we have thought about is having Ranked access have a one time entry cost, and that access can be lost for players who regularly ruin games. We may also grandfather in users that we have enough data on, but we haven’t gone too deep in assessing the details here. We aren’t sure if we need this as a solution yet either, we hope that other solutions can have a good effect at improving the matchmaking ecosystem.
In terms of our development focus moving forward, we are spending more of our time than usual focusing on matchmaking quality. We believe that is the right call given how much opportunity there is to make the day-to-day experience better for all players. We look forward to seeing your feedback on this update, and to continue to hear feedback in the following weeks for how to improve matchmaking.
We’re in the final weeks of Operation Shattered Web, and players have until March 30th to play missions, earn progress, and redeem Operation rewards.
Today the final mission card goes live which means we’ll start issuing Diamond Operation Coins to users who have completed 100 missions. This week’s card, “Time To Take Out The Trash”, includes a second co-op Strike mission tasking players with finding and eliminating Franz Kriegeld. Don’t let him escape!
Today’s update includes a revamped buy menu, a simple way to customize (and share) your crosshair, and an all new way to personalize your favorite agents!
Looking for a way to personalize your agent? Patches featuring a variety of classic designs can now be applied to specific locations on each character model, and you can apply more than one for each agent. You can find patches in the CS:GO Patch Pack, available now.
Choose Your Own Crosshair
Customizing your crosshair has never been easier. Head over to the settings menu, where you’ll find a variety of crosshair settings that can be tuned to your personal taste. You can share your crosshair code with others or import a code to try someone else’s.
Today’s update also includes a visual rework of the buy menu, featuring an interactive preview of your character holding weapons and equipment. Along with some slight rearranging, now you can preview the equipment you can afford with illuminated icons in the buy wheel.
New operation missions – Light Buy
Maximize your earnings. Do more with less. Play new Shattered Web Operation missions beginning Tuesday at 2:00 pm PT.
Week 14 missions are ready to play! Grab an AK and queue for Cache and Train in Casual, Competitive, Wingman, and Guardian game modes.
Break out the big guns. Subtlety is not required when using the overpowered weapons in this week’s missions. It is ok to make a little noise, go big, be bold, and have fun!
We take feedback about communication abuse seriously, and in the past we’ve shipped settings that let customers control their exposure to other players’ avatars, names, and voice/text chat. (You can find these in Settings->Game->Communication and on the scoreboard). The settings are useful, but they have the downside of squelching communication indiscriminately.
So we’ve been working on a new system that will work more precisely. When the new system is fully deployed, players will receive a warning if they receive significantly more abuse reports than other players.
If they ignore that feedback and continue to receive abuse reports, they’ll receive a penalty: they will be muted by all other players by default. This ‘default mute’ state will remain until the player earns enough XP to remove the penalty, but other players can choose to manually unmute the user (as they would any other muted player).
Because the new system is driven by reports, it lets players establish their own standards for communication and ensure that their fellow players receive anonymous feedback when they’re out of line.
We’ve already started tracking players’ reports with the new system, and you can help us by getting into the habit of reporting abusive players for ‘Abusive Communications or Profile’ when you come across them. Note that reports are weighted higher for players that play more and/or report less frequently, so accounts that generate no XP and/or spam reports will have little to no impact.
As always, you can send feedback and/or concerns to [email protected]
Show off your specialized skills while completing this week’s varied set of missions!
This week’s missions move the operation to areas which feature CS:GO’s arid climates. Play Casual, Guardian, Wingman, and Deathmatch game modes on Dust II, Mirage, Shortdust and others.
The Shattered Web missions for week 10 are now ready to play!
Get 15 default pistol kills in Deathmatch, 20 M4A1-S kills in Guardian: Canals, 5 kills with the enemy’s rifle in Casual: Dust II, 3 knife kills in Arms Race, deal 100 utility damage in Competitive, and earn 5 aces in Wingman.
“Hey, sometimes your opponent is just having a really good day!”
Repeat this soothing consolation should you run into any trouble completing this week’s set of challenging missions.
The itinerary for this Italian adventure features tours of five iconic locales in Casual, Competitive, Guardian, Wingman, and Deathmatch game modes.
Activision has finally revealed Call of Duty: Warzone, the free-to-play battle royale. As we learned from leaks and can now confirm, it’s a standalone battle royale rather than a mode attached to Modern Warfare. Give the trailer a watch above, and then take it for a spin tomorrow.
150 players will have to fight each other and outrun a deadly cloud of gas in the battle royale brawls, but Warzone’s also launching with a second mode. Plunder is all about getting rich, scouring the map for loot and killing players to steal their cash.
Both modes will take place on Verdansk, which we learned earlier is a new map stitched together from locations both old and new. There’s a city to fight over, but you can also leave civilisation behind and duke it out in Verdansk’s forests and mountains. Activision says the map features 300 points of interest, and each zone has its own landmark, including a lumber yard and a dam. It’s a big map, but you’ll be able to get around faster in vehicles. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to find an ATV, tactical rover, SUV, cargo truck, or a helicopter before someone else pinches it.
- CoD: Warzone download: how to get battle royale free
As well as a novel respawn system that forces players to fight in 1v1 battles in the Gulag for the chance to return—only in the battle royale mode—both modes let you and your squad select a contract, a special objective that will reward you with in-match cash, loot and abilities like seeing the next circle location before the map shrinks. There are different types of objective, including ones where you have to hunt down supply boxes or secure specific locations.
That cash you earn can then be spent at Buy Stations where you can pick up tokens that let you respawn fallen teammates, revival kits that you can use on yourself, and killstreaks. In Plunder, you can also buy balloons that let you deposit your cash so other squads can’t steal it.
More details on both modes will appear tomorrow, along with a more in depth look at the map. Modern Warfare players will get a head start at launch, dropping into Verdansk at 3 pm GMT/8 am PT tomorrow. Four hours later, however, the doors will open to everyone else. Check out the launch map below.