Coin Flip/Sudden Death in Competitive Play

Jun 25 2016 4 min read
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Jeff Kaplan, Game Director of Overwatch, shared the following information with us overnight:

"Hey everyone, 

The feedback we’ve been seeing from those of you helping us test our upcoming patch on the PTR has been amazing. Thank you so much for your efforts!

Now that we’ve had some time to read through and really process your posts, I wanted to take the opportunity to let you know some changes we plan to make based on that feedback.

Feedback We’re Hearing
+ You like seeing your Skill Rating.
+ You like the strong leaver penalty.
+ You like the Assault map changes. 
+ You like that premade groups are called out in the UI.
- You don’t like the coin flip. 
- You don’t like Sudden Death. 

Regarding those last two points, even though we feel like tuning the attacker vs. defender advantage in Sudden Death is achievable—and we’re really close right now—the community perception is that one side always has a clear advantage on Assault, Escort, and Hybrid maps, and (as a result) you feel the coin flip mechanic is unfair. The balance is the easy part for us, but the perception issues are much more challenging. Challenging andimportant. 

In this situation, we feel like we can compromise and make changes that can improve most players’ experience in Competitive Play. So, in the short term, we’ve got some tweaks coming that will help balance out attack/defend win rates in Sudden Death. In the long term, we’re actually looking to remove the coin flip and Sudden Death from the game altogether.

Current State of Sudden Death
If you’ve been following our Developer Updates on Competitive Play, one of the things we talked about was our desire to greatly reduce the chances of a match resulting in a tie or Sudden Death. Back in beta, under the old system, we were seeing Sudden Death happen about 35% of the time. It felt too frequent and we didn’t like it. So, we changed our scoring systems and our game formats for Assault, Hybrid, and Escort as a result. 

  • So far, our results for Assault are much more in line with what we expected. On the PTR right now, the Assault maps (Temple of Anubis, Hanamura, and Volskaya Industries) are only going to Sudden Death about 9% of the time. This is really good news. The “time bank” system we created for Assault Maps results in drastically fewer ties. And this is what we were hoping to achieve.
  • The Escort maps (Dorado, Watchpoint: Gibraltar and Route 66) are better than the 35% we saw in beta, but still aren’t where we want them to be. We’re seeing Sudden Death rates of anywhere on the PTR from about 16-18%.
  • And when it comes to the Hybrid Maps (Numbani, King's Row, and Hollywood), the rates for Sudden Death on the PTR are hovering around 20-29%.

We feel like both the Escort and Hybrid maps are still resulting in Sudden Death too often. 

Changes We’re Looking at Making in the Short-Term
Based on this data and your feedback, here are a few changes we’re looking to make immediately to Competitive Play:

  • Initial match time for Assault, Escort, and Hybrid maps will be reduced from 5 minutes to 4 minutes
  • Sudden Death Timer will be reduced from 2m00s to 1m45s

These adjustments should make Competitive Play games a little shorter, giving you the opportunity play more of them. They’re also fairly quick to implement, since they don’t require a lot of additional work to the core of the system. As a result, you’ll see these go live with Competitive Play and our Summer season (assuming we like what we see on the PTR). 

Changes We’re Looking at Making in the Long-Term
In addition to the above, and because we’ve received a lot of positive feedback on the new Assault map format, we’re going to try to apply the same “time bank” system to Escort and Hybrid maps. 

What this means is that, if both teams push the payload all the way to the end of the map with time leftover, you’ll go into a second round on the same map. We’ll remember how much time was on the clock for each team, and then you’ll have that amount of time to push the payload as far as possible. At the end of this second round, we’ll also look at how far your team pushed the payload vs. how far the enemy team pushed their payload. Push it farther than the other team and you win. 

The only ties that you’ll encounter in the “time bank” system are if a) neither team pushes the payload at all (an exceedingly rare edge case!), b) neither team manages to “capture” the payload (this is limited to Hybrid maps), or c) both teams manage to push their payloads all the way to end of the map in overtime. If we’re seeing ties happen less than 9% of the time in Assault right now, we should see even fewer Hybrids and Escorts resulting in a tie using this format.

You can read the full text on the official Overwatch forum.


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