MOBA games and toxicity in matchmaking

The majority of my gaming experiences this year have been undertaken in MOBA type games, as such I have been noticing a lot of interesting issues. This is just a brief post to talk about matchmaking in MOBAs, I have spent time talking about matchmaking in fighting games but this is a very different issue.

For those that do not know a MOBA is a team game which is most often 5vs5, games are matched randomly amongst 10s of 1000s of players. Parameters exist to help match similar players and in most MOBAs they work well, there is however in my opinion one thing that breaks most MOBA matchmaking systems. It is not at all unreasonable to allow players to group with friends, after all who doesn’t want to share their experiences or just show off now and then. Unfortunately players are very rarely of similar skill when grouping and this creates a problem of balance on teams. In most cases the system will try and find a similar group to place on the enemy team, this however is often unlikely to result in an exact match. A larger problem which results from this is that with the MOBA ‘lanes’ system your likely hood of being matched in lane against a similar skill player is even lower. This issue of lane mis-match is incredibly problematic for everyone involved, often toxicity towards the new player results which puts them off playing the game further.

The main issue in my view is that it is too hard for a matchmaking system to ensure a balanced match given a player grouping with another of lower skill. In some MOBAs such as LOL steps have been taken to prevent players of widely different skill levels grouping. In my opinion more games should take steps to implement this into matchmaking, on the one hand players cant always match with friends but as a result matches are easier to balance. I also think in the case of ranked matches grouping shouldn’t be an option unless the group is a full team against another full team.

/rant – Food for thought for any MOBA gamers out there..

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