Fun fact: Overwatch has a “rate this match” option that appears after each match on PC. It lets you choose, essentially, whether you really liked, really disliked, or were just kinda eh about the match you played. Why? To give Blizzard data. Now, though, it’s going away, because the data was hilariously useless.
In a forum post today, Jeff “From The Overwatch Team” Kaplan explained why the “rate this match” feature fell short of Blizzard’s goals:
We had high hopes for this feature but after a year of the game being live and an extended period in beta, all we learned from the feature was:
-New players used the Rate This Match feature more than existing players
-Players enjoy winning
-Players do not enjoy losing
Truly revelatory! My own data suggests that Overwatch players also like breathing air and aren’t big fans of being on fire.
For real, though, I can understand why the Overwatch team put this feature into the game. In theory, it allowed players to quickly convey that something had gone exceedingly right or disastrously wrong, which would, in turn, allow Blizzard to tweak the game (or at least the matchmaking algorithm) to avoid consigning players to the rage mines for a whole evening.
For example, I tended to use it when a match was so utterly lopsided that it left me gasping in incredulity. I’d press the little bubble that meant I disliked it in hopes that, somewhere, a matchmaking gnome would learn a very valuable lesson. And I really tried to rate matches positively when they were close losses, because close losses are almost as fun as close wins.
But I admit that I also sometimes just indiscriminately rated matches negatively when I was feeling salty, and I gave a lot of likes to matches where my team steamrolled our opponents. I get the impression that many others did the same.
Then again, Blizzard never put much effort into making the feature valuable. In-game or elsewhere, there’s no concrete explanation of what criteria players should have been using to “rate this match.” In a Twitter post last year, Blizzard simply said that the feature “gives our teams data on sentiment of players experiences in-game.” Which is pretty much equivalent to saying, “our match rating system lets people rate matches.”
Compare this to the game’s Report feature, which Blizzard has repeatedly and consistently stressed the importance and effectiveness of. If you use it, people will face consequences, and earlier this year, Blizzard updated it to clarify exactly how players should use specific reporting categories.
I’m not really sure what Blizzard was expecting to learn from Overwatch’s “rate this match” feature, if it couldn’t even begin to articulate this to the players. Sadly, this means that truly valuable questions—for instance, why the fuck is everybody a mile away from the payload?—remain unanswered.