Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Failure of Team-based Ratings

Patch 2.4.2 and Season 4 have some big changes coming for PvP. The most important change, in my opinion, is the following:
- If a character’s personal rating is more than 150 points below the team rating, they will earn points based on their personal rating instead of the team rating.
- If the average personal rating of the players queuing for a game is more than 150 points below the team’s rating, the team will be queued against an opponent matching or similar to the average personal rating.

This is Blizzard throwing in the towel on team-based ratings. Which, quite frankly, is needed.

The point of a rating system, as I have pointed out before, is to measure the skill* of a player. But in a world where you can easily join, leave, form and dissolve teams, the rating system quickly bears no resemblance to reality. Team-based ratings are simply too vulnerable to exploitation. Point-selling by high-end teams is endemic.

In the ideal scenario, a player's rating should quickly settle around its true value, and after that, change fairly slowly. You should not be able to reset it. Wild swings after the system becomes settled is a sign of a flawed system.

Team-based ratings were a bad idea to start with. Hopefully in WotLK, Blizzard will implement a proper personal rating and reward system for PvP.

Once ratings settle, there are a lot of interesting things Blizzard could do. For example, you could have a Tournament each Saturday. Teams would be divided by rating bands, and you could give the winner in each band enough Arena Points for a bonus item. Under the current system, if you did this, you'd probably end up with some full Gladiator team that just started a new team in your bracket, and they would romp all over everyone.

I would take a look at games like Magic Online, which--even though they have a rating system--don't rely solely on ratings to hand out rewards.

*Where "skill" means the ability to defeat the other team, and may include gear.


  1. I just dont like how they're forcing people into doing arenas for gear gained from Honor.

  2. /agree with rudolphe

    That so irks me...

    I've been a points buyer, but I have no problems with those changes.

    What I do see happening is a drop-off of people participating in BGs and arena. I'm going to be grinding honor on my pally for the S3 gear, but once that is done, it's bye-bye pvp. No reason to stay there.

  3. PvP was fun back in the day when you could get 10 of your friends and go beat on some alliance town, and then move to another Alliance town, etc.

    Forced PvP, i.e. Battlegrounds is just boring.

  4. I'm wondering why they keep team ratings at all with this implementation. If the goal is to have the ratings as a measure of skill, and what they're trying to avoid is current exploitation through team-buying and such, why not just have *everything* based on personal and have that as the only measure?
    -Cathmor, Malfurion server

  5. I think the team rating is necessary to keep most of us in the game, as the personal rating resets when you join a team. If all we had was personal rating, and you didn't reset when you joined a team, the 1337 would be leeter, and the rest left behind.

    And it's all part of their e-sport plans anyway.

  6. I'm wondering why they keep team ratings at all with this implementation. If the goal is to have the ratings as a measure of skill, and what they're trying to avoid is current exploitation through team-buying and such, why not just have *everything* based on personal and have that as the only measure?

    I think it's because this is a band-aid measure, meant to quickly stop the exploiting of team ratings. I expect that a more robust system will eventually be introduced.

  7. I don't see how the new system will stop PR selling though. May make it harder but many have suggested there will be far more PR sellers in S4 with all the new point requirements for gear. Ratings are fine but keeping it on S3 limits progression of the non elite. It just encourages long long gear up times for new players/alts and the geared folks running rampant over the non geared. If its about skill (which it should be as they'll never balance the game enough for all classes in pvp without destroying pve) then there shouldn't be any ratings on gear. Those with skill/team comp get their gear faster and vie for the titles/mounts etc..

    The 3-4 pieces of BG gear requiring ratings is the icing on the cake for me. I'll have no point to play it other than occasionally to upgrade some of my gear for pve. That line about some of the S4 off set honor gear being Sunwell equivalent is a joke and thus not everyone should have flies in the face of the past 3 seasons and BC in total. You need some of that pvp gear to reasonably improve your character these days. Oh, and its not that big of a deal because that s4 gear isn't that better than s3.

    Hell, I'm thinking that if I do want to get back into pvp I should go back to twink pvp even though I burned out on that early last year.

  8. Well it does remove the incentive for all but the most hard-core pvpers. It also will reduce participation in the BGs.

    Assuming that I'll never get even to the 1550 rating for the first piece of gear, I'll only have 3 items at most to get from S4 on my hunter, and 1 S3 item. Then there is no incentive to touch pvp at all. (My ret pally needs more gear, but he's reduced to farmer status anyway).

    So Blizz will have chased me out of PVP. I doubt I'll ever go for a rating, as it doesn't make sense to grind honor and area to get one item. (especially since the S4 itemization stinks for the most part as well, you'd be better off farming G and buying your way into a high-level farm run).

  9. Ah, a topic that I've also been thinking about lately.

    We should have seen this coming when a lead designer blurted out that stupid phrase "welfare epic".
    From what I've read (blue post on Blizzard forum), yes, S4 will introduce even more ratings requirements.

    So here are PvP issues that have combined to pretty much drive me out of PvP in WoW:
    - Essentially nothing new in PvP since TBC was dropped in 15 months ago
    - All three Arenas are built around the same tired theme, Line of Sight
    - Continued class imbalance that was admitted, and then quietly dropped from the patch 2.3 fixes list never to be spoken-of since
    - Entrenched PvP gear inequities that heavily influence outcomes, but that will now be even more entrenched
    - Failure to fix basic 3-year-old problems like AV AFK, battleground bugs, and BG server crashes
    - Tinkering with the effects of resilience in just about every patch, indicating that the PvP combat system isn't right even by Blizzard's lax balance standards
    - The Arena Tournament 'paid server' (the e-sport joke)
    - The failure of many items to work in Arenas, most notably the neutering of engineering from a "good for PvP" (quote from Blizzard's site) profession to useless in the Arena

    I don't PvP much anymore.
    And let's face it, PvP is not casual, because you'll be destroyed unless you have gear, but to get the gear is already a hardcore grind.
    I'm playing less these days, partly because WoW PvP feels old and tired. And with one less thing to do, and not really being drawn to raiding, I'm finally considering whether to just cancel, and reconsider when they finally get WotLK onto the shelves.

    The effects:
    This amounts to a re-introduction of the old ranking system. Blizzard is systematically shutting off the PvP gear progression path again.
    And combine that with allowing raiders to obtain PvP through raiding, but not the other way around, and WoW has regressed to where it was just before the first expansion.

  10. Team ratings are an excellent idea... on paper. People would be on one team per bracket and they'd be competing honestly.

    Truth is, Arena seasons have lasted way too long (for 5s anyway). The top rated teams can get point capped mid season and while completing one full set.

    The solution is not simple, but Personal Ratings are part of the solution. Slapping ratings on almost all arena gear isn't.

    @doeg: Excellent points.