3 Reasons Why Battlerite Should Abandon Solo Queue

UPDATE: I wrote this back before Battlerite was even in closed alpha testing. Since then, Battlerite has exceeded all expectations and a lot of the assumptions behind this post are now moot. So I definitely see the value of solo queue and don’t want it to be taken away, but I’ll leave this post in its original, unedited form for historicity’s sake.


I’m anticipating a lot of flak for this post because I’m going to make a case against solo queuing in Battlerite. If you get to the end of this post and disagree with me, that’s totally fine — feel free to tear me a new one in the comments.

All I ask is that you read this with an open mind.

Here’s what I’m proposing:

  • One ranked 2v2 queue, teams only.
  • No other queues at all.
  • Unranked games played in hosted lobbies.

If that sounds radical, hopefully I can convince you why this could be the best thing for Battlerite’s growth and playerbase. I’m also willing to change my mind if you think I’m wrong!

1. Solo Ratings Are Unreliable

In order for a solo queue to work, every player needs to have a personal rating, which is some number that describes that player’s skill level relative to the entire playerbase. Without a personal rating, the matchmaking system doesn’t have enough information to find and match up players of similar skill levels.

However, the biggest reason why solo queue is problematic is that a player’s personal rating doesn’t actually tell you much about that player. It’s little more than an illusion of information. As evidenced by other team-based games that have solo queues, personal ratings are actually quite volatile.

For example, if a player has a rating of 1500, what exactly does that tell you? He could’ve arrived at that number in a dozen different ways. Maybe he was powerleveled by someone who carried him from 1000 to 1500. Or maybe he normally averages around 1800 but recently hit a string of unlucky games that dropped him 300 points.

featured-bloodline-sentinel

My main point here is that your personal rating can be influenced by too many factors outside of your personal control. Any time you pair up with an AFK or lagger or troll, your rating drops. If you’re on the other side, your rating jumps up. Either way, it’s not because of anything you did.

Some people say that none of this matters because this variance in personal ratings will even out over time and become more accurate the longer you play — which is theoretically true, but not so in practice. How many games are needed to statistically reduce variance? 10,000? 50,000? 100,000? Only a handful of people will ever get that far.

Personal ratings also fail to reflect your skills with different champions. If someone earned a rating of 2000 while playing nothing but Ashka, that rating might be close to accurate — but only for Ashka. What if they decided to play Croak in their next game? They won’t necessarily be a 2000-rating Croak player.

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Overall, personal ratings can describe your “tendency to win over time” but only in the long term. Plus, they’re too volatile and too unreliable to be used as a measure of skill or as a basis for accurate matchmaking.

The solution? Get rid of personal ratings altogether and focus solely on team ratings. Team ratings are more accurate, more consistent, and less influenced by uncontrollable factors. If Battlerite is going to be a 2v2 game, then ratings should measure your performance in a 2v2 setup. That just makes the most sense.

Cutting personal ratings would mean that solo queues have no basis for matching players of similar skill, therefore solo queues would have to be cut as well.

2. One Queue = Better Matchmaking

I think the best way forward for Battlerite will be to have a single queue: 2v2 teams only. This queue would work in the same way that it did in Bloodline Champions, which is that players would have to pair up, create a 2v2 team, and then use that team to enter the queue. Each 2v2 team would have its own rating.

Some say that this would kill the game, but I honestly don’t think it would. The benefits would far outweigh any cons and the net gain would be positive for Battlerite’s quality of gaming.

For starters, having one queue solves the problem of a fragmented playerbase. Stunlock and Funcom both made a lot of mistakes with Bloodline Champions, and in retrospect, it’s easy to see how their matchmaking system unknowingly cannibalized itself and prevented itself from growing larger.

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Essentially what I mean is that there were too many queues. Ignoring the ones that barely got any play, such as the CTA and Conquest queues, there were still three main ones that did see a lot of activity: Ranked 2v2, Ranked 3v3, and Unranked 3v3 (which allowed solo queueing).

In theory, having different kinds of queues is great because each one caters to a different kind of player — maybe some people don’t like one queue but enjoy another queue — but in practice, this really only works when: 1) the gameplay itself caters to multiple kinds of players and 2) the playerbase is large enough to support it.

Bloodline Champions was a game that appealed to a very niche audience and it’s safe to assume that Battlerite will be like that, too. Players either love the gameplay or they hate it, and those who love it will play it regardless. Having multiple queues doesn’t capture a larger audience for a game like this.

But what it does do is dilute the size of each queue. If you have 600 concurrent players online, does it really make sense to split them up as 200 players in each queue? A niche game like Battlerite can’t afford this kind of dilution, especially because it negatively affects the integrity of the matchmaking system.

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Long story short, matchmaking systems need a large sample size in order to be effective — we’re talking in the range of several thousand players per queue. And realistically speaking, Battlerite will be lucky to have 1,000 concurrent players online at any given time. For the sake of matchmaking, those players need to be in the same queue.

We get two benefits from having a single 2v2 queue: we’ll be matched into games faster and each game will be more accurate in terms of matching skill level versus skill level. Collapsing everything into one queue will mean better quantity AND better quality of matchmaking games.

Then what about players who don’t want ranked games? That’s what player-hosted lobby games will come into play.

This is better than having a separate Unranked queue because, as explained above, solo ratings are notoriously unreliable. Instead, players could host games and set a skill level for that game — such as Newbie, Intermediate, Veteran — similar to how players could set a grade range for hosted games in Bloodline Champions.

Lobby games themselves are beneficial because:

  • You can play multiple games with the same players, which builds relationships and helps newbies enter into the community.
  • You can kick and avoid trolls and obnoxious players, whereas you have no choice to avoid them if you were to play an Unranked queue.
  • You can specify things like “First Timers Only” or “No Ranids” or “24/7 Baako’s Grave” — small little variations that you can’t really ensure with a queue system.

3. Newbies Will Be Fine Without It

The other big argument against the removal of the solo queue is that it will harm newbie retention. While I can kind of see the reasoning behind that, I’m not personally convinced that it would really be that much of an issue.

If you’re wondering how it would harm newbie retention, the idea is that a solo queue makes it easy for newbies to hop into the game and play whenever they want — and that’s absolutely true. There’s an elegant simplicity to the idea that you can just click a button to find your next game. The system handles it all for you.

But solo queuing is ultimately a convenience feature, not a make-or-break feature. Remember that even if a solo queue did exist, it would be for Unranked matches only — so if a newbie is looking for Unranked matches, they can just look to the list of player-hosted lobby games.

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Would this be more work than a one-click button for solo queuing? Sure. Is it such a massive inconvenience that a newbie would throw up their hands and quit simply because a solo queue doesn’t exist? I doubt it. Indeed, I feel that the player-hosted option is superior, especially for newbies.

And as far as queueing is concerned, finding a partner actually isn’t that hard. Even the most socially awkward player can drop a quick question into global chat (“Anyone want to team for Ranked 2v2?”) and be ready to play within minutes. It’s exponentially easier to find one partner than to find two teammates.

So I think my proposal is more than reasonable. Want to play solo? Find a game in the player-hosted list. (And if Unranked queues don’t exist, you can bet that there will be plenty of player-hosted games to join.) Want to play Ranked? Find a partner.

Solo Queue: Yes or No?

I’m certain that this will be an unpopular opinion, so all I ask is that you refrain from posting a knee-jerk reaction to the title. Please read it through at least once. If you see any holes or downsides that I missed, feel free to comment about them!

Zanetski

He is the lead writer at Battlecrank. You can find him on the Battlecrank Discord.

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32 Comments on "3 Reasons Why Battlerite Should Abandon Solo Queue"

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13arnacle
13arnacle

You made some good points, but you didn’t really go into the cons that I think of when I think of one team queue. New players are going to have a hard time getting a teammate first off. You said this, but I don’t think it would work out as smoothly as you believe for them to get one and then go off and make a team and queue. Usually when you’re making a team, you want to pick your teammate, you want to know them and how they play first off. Picking teams just based off of whoever is online and replies first, in a game like this, is probably not the best idea. Who’s to say if your skill levels are even close? I feel like having just one way to get rating and test people’s skill, and having no way for newer players to know someone’s ability before teaming with them, is probably not going to end well.

Also, this makes it so your rating you receive is a product of you and your partner, not just how well you play. Some comps could be more powerful than others, or you can just carry, or get carried, by your teammate which would still result in a skewed rating system. 2v2 is a lot easier than 3v3, so carrying one person, as opposed to 2 is much easier and doable. One thing I thought of as well, is that making a team requires you have team slots, unless they make you have infinite slots in battlerite, and that inherently makes the average player only play with one person for a long period of time. So you’re playing with really just one person the majority of the time, and you aren’t really playing with different play styles/characters that often, which inherently limits your growth as well as how you connect with other players.

I mean yeah you can just keep making new teams all the time, if you have the coins, but that’s going to get pretty annoying. Especially when you check your teams and you just have like 50 different ones because you want to expand who you play with. I think a game sort of needs a queue that you can just join yourself, and get matched with other people queuing by themselves. And if battlerite has enough players, I would prefer a rating from a queue where you queue solo and are placed on a team, than a rating you get from one team made in advanced, playing with the same person. It takes more skill to play with different play styles/characters. The problems with BLC’s solo matchmaking is for one, it’s not even solo. You can party up, which highly skews the games. Another thing is it’s really unbalanced because of the very low playerbase and finding games of 6 people out of a population of less than 100 is pretty difficult to say the least. Putting it down to 2v2 is already a really great way of combatting this. The more games in the queue, the more options of players and ultimately a more balanced queue.

One thing I didn’t like about team queue’s in BLC was that you could take one good player, and just team with some noobs and boost them really easily. Solo queue is a real good way of not letting that happen. And I’m talking about an actual solo queue, not smm in BLC where you can party up in the “solo” queue. Which makes zero sense.

13arnacle
13arnacle

It might just be me, idk, but even if it’s a team game, I like to know who the better PLAYER is game to game. And solely premade team games makes it harder to figure this out. Playing with a different team/comp every game is a real good way of seeing individual skill.

Bare in mind, I’m not saying that one way is totally better than the other. I’m saying that they both have their flaws and advantages, and each one is suited for a different way of ranking.

I personally am in favor of having two queues. Both 2v2, one premade teams, and the other solo queue. I know splitting up the community is bad. But remember, it’s 2v2 for both. So that just requires 2 more players to have 1 game in each queue at one time. Rather than 6 players for one game in 3v3. So more bang for your buck. You kind of need this two have rankings of both team rating and solo rating. You can’t use one rating for both in my opinion as it’s not the best case scenario and would make things more abstract and not completely telling of skill.

Bewz
bewz

I don’t know, feels like newbies wouldn’t like the idea of trying to join a hosted lobby. How will the newbie be guaranteed that he/she plays against people of equal skill level in the lobby? They might just join a lobby, play, and get wrecked because the lobby consisted of much higher caliber players.

GGHF
GGHF

I read through the entire article and I get what you mean. However, it feels a bit like you played favourites with your idea there – you didn’t really discuss it, which would have required pointing out the bad things too.

Secondly, some of these problems apply regardless of whether you’re playing solo or not – ratings for example, aren’t stable whether it counts for two or only for one player. You might get matched against several weak opponents in a row, or even more drastic, against much better opponents playing their worst champions. You’d have several easy high value victories and your team score inflates. You might get an afk opponent. You or your mate might have sudden internet troubles. Maybe you mistakenly queued and your significant other isn’t around for the game.
And that’s not even the biggest issue.

What about the fact that you aren’t going to stick with the same 2s Team all the time? Every time you create a new doubles’, you run into the same issue: your team starts out in the placement matches and the progress of your previous team doesn’t apply. This seriously inhibits a player’s willingness to play ranked, because their progress and stats aren’t actually relevant as they’re gonna be lost anyway.

Silvereaper
Silvereaper

I don’t agree that solo rankings are as volatile as you claim. There is an element of luck involved, but every player is subject to the same factors, so it is pretty fair on balance. Also, solo rankings allow some measure for people to gauge the skill of potential pre-made teammates. This is better than having no empirical measure at all.

While it is true that there is a benefit to having only one queue, if there is only to be one queue it must be a solo queue. That is because when new players start the game it is not really a group experience to them. They just want to get in the game as quickly as possible and see what it is about. Even a small inconvenience, such as hosted lobbies will effect retention. This is especially true is they run into a lobby that keeps kicking them for not being good enough, which seems likely in our community. The level of play in pre-made is higher so it is attractive to the more dedicated players. They are willing to accept the logistical obstacles of organizing a team to access this higher level. New players will be less willing to invest this time in a game they are not as committed to.

I guess it could be an unranked solo queue, but I still think that the mmr should show just so we have the data. Effectively, if it is labeled “unranked,” but it is the only solo queue available, it is in effect a ranked queue anyways.

Solo queue is the most accessible type of game play and thus must be catered toward players with the lowest commitment level to the game. The goal of the basic level of game play is to get players into as many games as possible as quickly as possible with more or less balanced teams.

With regards to building relationships, I think the player base can be assumed to be small enough such that a player will encounter the same players fairly often.

13arnacle
13arnacle

I definitely agree that if there’s one queue, it should be solo. You can’t really have a team queue with no solo queue. No one will know anyone’s individual skill to even make teams and choose who they want. Noobs will have a tougher time getting into the game if they need to find a partner to even play. Not to mention the amount of actual teams everyone will have. It will be kind of pointless. Especially since every teams rating will start at nothing and in placement again. It discourages making too many teams, and doesn’t really indicate individual skill at all. Especially playing with the same person constantly and probably the same bloodlines.

GGHF
GGHF

One thing I never really liked about the grade system of BLC was that the grades didn’t feel stable. One month having grade 15 would mean that the skill of the player is greater than having grade 15 the next month. Or the other way around. You might have had grade 15, but suddenly you’re stuck at 13 or 14 and you feel like you’re really bad, but you’re actually just as good as before. It didn’t really make sense.

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