In the world of video games, healing isn’t a glamorous gig. It’s hard enough to get people to do it when everybody’s on equal footing. And when they’re not? Well, then you’ve got a problem on your gnarled, pock-marked, and thoroughly un-healed hands.
When you finish an Overwatch competitive mode match, you gain points toward your skill rating, which denotes how good you are and helps decide who you get matched against. There are also rewards like golden guns involved. Basically, people want to make that number go up, up, up until it makes god stub his toe, get angry, and take away rainbows. Recently, though, people who primarily play healers have been having a lot of trouble making their numbers budge. Players have been flooding places like Overwatch’s forums and the Overwatch subreddit with reports.
Overwatch-focused YouTubers like Unit Lost have reported similar issues:
The short version? It seems that as of recent updates, it’s become significantly harder for healers to gain “on fire” status, which plays a large role in determining how much SR you get for your individual performance. Where once heals and assists did the trick, now healers—especially Mercy—have to rely on ults. That’s pretty counter-intuitive for the kindly, attentive wife of our dear queen and eternal sky goddess Pharah, given that Mercy’s ult is a team-wide resurrection. If she wants to maximize her SR, it is, perversely enough, to her advantage to let teammates die.
While this issue only recently, er, caught on fire, smoke’s been wafting from its general direction for a couple weeks. At the end of March, Jeff Kaplan said that an issue involving Mercy’s skill rating had been fixed. He added, however, that the team was “still hearing some reports.” “We’ll keep working to fix it if it in fact is still broken,” he said. “We’re trying to verify right now.”
Two weeks later, however, the issue’s become a source of caustic controversy. A couple days ago, quality assurance lead Max Thompson claimed the issue was fixed, or at least that things are now working as intended. Confusingly, he seemed to imply in another thread that it’s a bug that’s just taking a while to fix. “While we always appreciate additional information, effective communication, and well documented bug reports, some issues take time to understand and implement,” he said, replying to someone who’d asked why Blizzard hadn’t given players an update on the issue. “The competitive play system in its entirety is a complicated piece of code, and we do not make changes to it lightly.”
Regardless, reports of frustratingly low support SR, especially when compared to DPS players, continue to pour in. I reached out to Blizzard to find out what’s going on, but as of writing they had yet to respond.
Now, there are a couple assumptions worth digging into here. Despite conventional wisdom (which is informed more by other games than Overwatch), Mercy and Lucio, both healers, are actually two of the most-played characters in the whole game. Even so, it still doesn’t make sense for Blizzard to hamstring their SR gain, which is why I’m guessing this is just a particularly pesky bug, rather than a GLOBAL NATIONWIDE CONSPIRACY TO SHIT ON HEALERS FOR SOME REASON. Still, it’s a shame that Blizzard hasn’t taken care of this yet. In Overwatch as in life, we all need healing.