Overwatch Ditches “Avoid This Player”, That Widowmaker Guy Rejoices

Catching up on the Overwatch [official site] forums, there’s a post by the game’s director, Jeff Kaplan explaining a little more about matchmaking. The part which stood out to me (and other people, judging by other articles online!) was that Blizzard have disabled the “Avoid This Player” function from the game because of what it does to matchmaking when people use it avoid skilled players.

Here’s the full explanation after the jump.

N.B. This is the only time I have ever felt sorry for a person who is good at sniping in an FPS:

“One of the best Widowmaker players in the world complained to us about long queue times,” said Kaplan. “We looked into it and found that hundreds of other players had avoided him (he’s a nice guy – they avoided him because they did not want to play against him, not because of misbehavior).

“The end result was that it took him an extremely long time to find a match. The worst part was, by the time he finally got a match, he had been waiting so long that the system had “opened up” to lower skill players. Now one of the best Widowmaker players was facing off against players at a lower skill level. As a result, we’ve disabled the Avoid system (the UI will go away in an upcoming patch). The system was designed with the best intent. But the results were pretty disastrous.”

It never occurred to me to use the system to avoid good players. What a fool I was!

The rest of the post is an interesting read, regardless of whether you like Overwatch because it looks at the ideas behind matchmaking in general as well as Overwatch in particular. It’s things like how waiting longer for a “better” match sounds attractive in abstract but doesn’t quite match with reality because if you get those perfect match-ups 50% will be losses so you’ve waited a long time to have a negative experience – or at least more negative than a win. At that point it sort of doubles down on misery even though it’s how the maths of the situation should work.


  1. Capt. Bumchum McMerryweather says:

    This is what sets Blizzard apart from Rito. Both of them are shameless cash-grabbers, but Blizz gives a mo keys about at least trying to give their players a good experience. They did an excellent job fixing the multitude of sins with Diablo, admitted they had been idiots about it, and moved on. Now they admit defeat with a stupid feature in overwatch.

    Meanwhile Riot introduce a new queue system that screws solo queue players while simultaneously offing the queue that was beneficial for solo queue players, introduce a FREAKING GAMBLING SYSTEM into their game, have an automated report system that just doesn’t work – all the while they are patting themselves on the back and fellating themselves over how freaking awesome they are for all these neat features they’ve introduced, conveniently ignoring the cries of all the players (ranging from professionals to casual forum goers) who are experiencing exactly why these systems are shite.

    • chriskin says:

      I don’t understand, you believe that this is in favor of Blizzard because they disabled a feature they were unable to predict that it would be abused while Riot has said years ago that they won’t implement it because it’s obvious that it would be abused?

      Then you go on about the queue system, which is the exact same one as in overwatch, a gambling system that I don’t even know what is supposed to be since there is no gambling system in league, an automated report system that is supposed to not work while it works really well (while overwatch doesn’t even have most of the report options league has).

      Then you go on about how they pat themselves while they made a post talking about their mistakes just recently and what changes they plan to make on the system, including the return of ranked 5s and changes to DQ.

      Riot has issues, sure, but your post is one big blob of inaccuracies and biased attacks.

      • Capt. Bumchum McMerryweather says:

        1, I’m not talking about Riot and Blizzard implementing the same features, I’m talking about the fact that Riot is intent on doing shit their way, much to the chagrin of the people who actually experience the game, myself included.

        2 The gambling system is the hextech crafting. If you don’t believe that’s gambling then you’re a fool.

        3 The report system doesn’t work, otherwise I wouldn’t be experiencing reprehensible humans or leavers in 75% of my games (fair enough, the leaver situation is FAR better than it was, leaverbuster is actually working)

  2. Horg says:

    ”It’s things like how waiting longer for a “better” match sounds attractive in abstract but doesn’t quite match with reality because if you get those perfect match-ups 50% will be losses so you’ve waited a long time to have a negative experience – or at least more negative than a win.”

    Close defeats can be enjoyable. Personally I would rank a close defeat as more fun than a win where the opposing team got stomped. I would prefer a longer wait for matchmaking to get more close games than have quick turnovers of one sided games. One of the reasons I didn’t buy Overwatch in the end was after two weeks of beta games, I felt there was barely any effort put into getting regular balanced games. This sounds like another case of ”You think you know what you want, but you don’t” from Blizzard.

    • Darth Gangrel says:

      It sounds more like Blizzard going “oops, my bad” and then deleting a feature that they created with good intentions. If Blizzard thinks this Avoid feature is more abused than properly used, then I won’t blame them for taking it away.

      You might like close defeats better, but what about everyone else? Creating general rules that try to appeal to everyone is never gonna work. You have to choose and discard and Blizzard chose to discard this feature. Some will think it’s the right thing to do and others won’t.

      • Horg says:

        The ”avoid this player” feature is not related to my post. I’m talking about general matchmaking which is expanded upon in the linked page from Blizzard.

  3. tomxp411 says:

    So how DO we avoid abusive jackholes who spout profanity and grief other players?

    I haven’t played Overwatch, but those definitely exist in other games. Is there at least a “mute” function so I don’t have to listen to yet another 14 year old calling me homophobic slurs just because I beat him in a match?

    • Chewbacca says:

      Well there is still the normal “Report” function for exactly that. The question is rather how to avoid trolls, as they are much less likely to get caught in a report system.

    • Chewbacca says:

      I think there is also a “block” function, but I’m not so sure. Open the player men (“P”), click on a player and find out. ;)

    • Cinek says:

      IMHO it would be all good if they’d limit it to 3 players maximum, with an option to edit. This way you could avoid the most pesky griefers, while people like that Widowmaker player would still have a good queue times (there’s simply too many great players to ban them with 3 avoid slots).

      What they did is a crude overkill for a feature that otherwise has a good intention and does solve a problem (reporting in vast majority of games is borderline useless and doesn’t protect you immediately – often it’s days or weeks before any action is taken, if one is taken at all).

    • Grizzly says:

      Right click the person’s name in chat or in the social screen, and you get mute, block and report :)

  4. phreddo says:

    I have yet to meet many toxic players. Perhaps overly critical, but so far nothing terrible. Hope it stays that way.

    • Aitrus says:

      I meet them all the time. Luck of the draw, I guess.

    • Jac says:

      The only time I’ve wanted to use this is against people on my own team who ice block you with mei whilst you’re actually trying desperately to get back to the front line.

      Have settled for just leaving the game if they do it in play.

    • gunny1993 says:

      Played 30 odd hours literally spoken to 4 or 5 people half being good the other half being average

    • hungrycookpot says:

      Luckily I am the wielder of an extremely rare set of skills, which allows me to avert my focus and “ignore” things that are said which I do not agree with, or which I find distasteful.

  5. Calculon says:

    I gave OW a whirl in beta – but I just didnt enjoy it. I’ll give it another go I guess to see if there have been improvements – but there is something about the pre-canned rock paper scissors approach to FPS’s that just doesnt work for me.

  6. SaintAn says:

    Great, now I’m stuck with all those gay hating toxic players since the report system doesn’t work for homophobia because Blizzard hates LGBT people as much as the Overwatch Reddit mods and goes out of their way to make the environment toxic for us.

    • Pich says:

      you can still block them an report for harrassment.

    • JimDiGritz says:

      Out of interest how do other players know that you’re LBGT or otherwise??

      • Xocrates says:

        They don’t need to know and still act like homophobic assholes.

      • Holderist says:

        They don’t, really (afaik). It’s just ‘kids’ throwing slurs around.

  7. MasterDave says:

    I think for the next advancement in matchmaking, they could try to go a little deeper and figure out the players who play the game correctly (ie: focusing on objectives rather than kills or going for a POTG). It sucks playing with people who just run around killing people and ignore the objectives.

    Yeah, super cool that you got a POTG for killing 6 dudes with one special, but that doesn’t really help if for the rest of the game you were totally worthless and chased people around while ignoring the control point.

    • gunny1993 says:

      I’d love to see this done, but I feel its far ahead of the power or skill anyone outside of research can achieve and even then the variables are so numerous its going to be DAMN hard.

    • Nauallis says:

      I haven’t played OW since the beta. I’m legitimately curious – When one team focuses solely on eliminations and the other team is trying to push the objective, is the gameplay weighted enough in favor of playing the objective that the team pushing the objective can actually win?

      I’m saying this because I feel your pain, and it really pisses me off in other shooters (Halo, Destiny, Titanfall) when an objective game becomes an extended deathmatch game… BUT I’ve also noticed that if I care more about the objective when my team is interested in kills that it’s sometimes easier to play the objective because I’ve got a team full of hatchet men. It’s usually only terrible when the team is focused on kills, and they suck at it.

      • Xocrates says:

        The problem is the class system which in composed of very specialized heroes fulfilling very specific roles. If you’re the only one playing the objective you can be very easily countered.

        • Nauallis says:

          Is it too much to assume that the kill-focused teammates are using class-countering to rack up kills and disrupt the objective-seekers, or are they so focused on kills that they are not only not class-countering but also completely ignoring whatever is happening with the objective?

      • Koozer says:

        There is absolutely no reward for kills bar having one less enemy about for a while, playing the objective is always the way to win.

        Saying that a lot of my victories seem to come from me standing next to the payload twiddling my thumbs while everyone else fannys about trying to murder each other.

        • Nauallis says:

          Is winning incentivized, i.e. is there a significant reward/experience/unlockables increase for winning?

    • Xocrates says:

      Oh god, yes.

      I stopped playing the game because I was consistently getting matched with players which were individually much better than me, but couldn’t play the objective worth shit.

    • Person of Interest says:

      I think the MMR will naturally account for this: if someone is good at killing but bad at capping, their losses should drag them down in rank until their talent for murder starts to have an actual impact on the match’s outcome.

      It’s not a sure thing that your approach to winning a match is the one and only useful strategy…

  8. left1000 says:

    uh. actually. losing 50% of the time isn’t a flaw. that’s the ultimate goal of any matchmaking system on purpose…

  9. left1000 says:

    uh. actually. losing 50% of the time isn’t a flaw. that’s the ultimate goal of any matchmaking system on purpose…

    there really isn’t any other possible goal in mind either. EVERY SINGLE GAME WITH any sort of elo or mmr is doing this. ALL OF THEM.

    It’s just that in games without a huge player base there aren’t enough players to make it happen.

    Only the top 1% or bottom 1% of players (or even in more popular games 0.1%) experience differently.

  10. aircool says:

    No-one actually dislikes snipers, they just dislike poor snipers who pick a sniper character when the last thing the team needs is a sniper character.

    30 seconds to push the cargo to the last point and you’re STILL sticking with your crap sniper?

    I can just about contain my rage at snipers who start an attacking game if, once they’ve picked off the immediate enemy threats (should take no more than 30 seconds), they change to something more appropriate.

    Time is the Enemy. Momentum is King!

    • DelrueOfDetroit says:

      I dislike snipers. I dislike them because they add nothing to most games but they have to be in every game now for some reason.

      • hungrycookpot says:

        What exactly were you looking for them to “add”, and how do they fail at that task? Seems like they “add” a distinct combat role, which is essentially exactly what every class in a class based shooter adds…

        • Koozer says:

          I think what they’re getting at is that a sniper’s potential contribution to a team is hugely outweighed by potential to be utterly useless, and the irritation caused in their opponents.

    • Ephant says:

      Every multiplayer shooter is better without sniper rifles.

    • Premium User Badge

      gritz says:

      The most common argument against a lot of snipers (I like snipers) is that they don’t offer meaningful counterplay. At their range you die, at short range they die. So essentially the only interesting sniper fights end up being between snipers.

      Blizzard addressed some of this by giving Widowmaker tools to survive at all ranges, but balanced counterplay at range is still rare. Essentially they traded that counterplay gap for balance.

  11. Cross says:

    I think this points back to the importance of “counterplay” in design. A character should not only be satisfying to play, but also to play against. This avoidance thing points to me that Widowmaker most definitely is not satisfying to play against, as a skilled player will just instakill you every dang time.

    • Person of Interest says:

      I’ve had to face some good Widowmakers. (No godlike Widowmakers, thankfully.) As someone with generally poor aim, I know not to try counter-sniping them, so instead I have to figure out how to use either a flanking class or a tank to avoid/survive the murderzone. I’ll sometimes pick Reinhardt and try to usher my teammates through the open spot of the map. That’s satisfying to me.

  12. testament says:

    I think that if Blizzard is going to remove this feature then they should quietly apply it to people that you report for possible hacking. It would be less likely to get abused if nobody knew it was happening and it would also make it harder for hackers to easily find games after awhile.

  13. Emeraude says:

    I keep reading about “abuse” of the system, and I fail to see how it is so.

    Players are given the option to avoid other players that make their gaming experience less fun.

    They use it to avoid players that make the game less fun for them, though for reasons that were not expected by Blizzard.

    Where is the abuse? And if anything, how it cool that suddenly Blizzard’s made the game a little less enjoyable for all those people?

    • Nevard says:

      Because using it abusively in this way ruins the experience for the players who are blocked despite not having done anything wrong, apart from “being good at the game”, which is something you want to incentivise and not punish.

      • Emeraude says:

        But then ruining the experience of people that do not want to play with those that are “good at the game” is acceptable loss?

        And gain, how is it abusive? “Because it’s used abusively” is nicely tautological, but doesn’t answer the question.

        The function was created so that players can avoid other players that make things less enjoyable for them. People are using it to avoid players that make things less enjoyable for them.

        It does exactly what it was supposed to do.

        • fatherjack says:

          I agree, why do they take the side of the single player over the hundreds of players who don’t want to play with him?

          One-sided games aren’t much fun for either side, and you can be abusive and bullying without uttering a word in chat. I play for fun and like games which are close, win or lose – when someone upsets that balance, it ruins it for everyone.

          I’d personally be hugely embarrassed that my playstyle had caused people to avoid me, for hundreds of people to have done that, then maybe it is time for him learn some empathy.

  14. iMad says:

    I play a useless Symetra on offense everytime. Your welcome.