Healing in Overwatch isn't always appreciated — usually just a "Thanks, I'm glad someone is doing it." Now, players are complaining that it isn't only unappreciated, but it's also under-rewarded. Recently, healers were reportedly seeing fewer skill rating gains than their more damage-dealing allies.
Yesterday, Blizzard responded to the controversy by noting that they haven't found a "broad systemic issue". And there are a few misconceptions about skill ratings flying around that could contribute to the drama.
That drama has been brewing over the last few weeks, when several Overwatch players noticed that healers weren't getting the "On Fire" status much, which indicated that they're on a healing roll. The assumption was that being "On Fire" affected skill ratings. As a result, players believed, healers were receiving fewer skill points than DPS allies who were "On Fire" more. Some also reported simply seeing lower skill rating gains when they played healer.
Here's a summary of that argument:
Yesterday, Blizzard explained why the drama may not be totally merited. On Battle.net, Overwatch principal designer Scott Mercer cleared up a few things. He said that, a few weeks ago, the Overwatch team made some balance changes to skill ratings. "Players were getting full assist credit even if the player being assisted did very little to the target," he wrote. It was a bug. So, Mercer went on to say, "We needed to recalibrate the tuning for the systems that calculate a player's contribution to the match." That patch affected how often players were "On Fire".
But Mercer also noted a crucial misunderstanding. "The amount a player is 'On Fire' does not directly affect SR [skill rating] adjustments due to player performance." While both skill rating and the "On Fire" status indicate how well a player performs, they ways players get there are calculated differently. Mercer explains:
The determination of being "On Fire" examines not just your own performance, but your performance relative to your teammates. The calculation of your SR adjustment after a match doesn't look at your teammates, but instead compares you to the performance of other similarly skilled players with that hero across an enormous pool of competitive matches. So, we compare your Genji play to the play of other Genjis, Ana vs. Anas, etc. Since we're comparing "apples to apples", we shouldn't see any kind of support specific bias in SR adjustments due to player performance.
Blizzard hasn't yet found a systemic problem with SR gains for players who heal. That isn't to say that players who complain of diminished SRs gains are wrong. Mercer said that "There might be a more localised issue affecting a specific hero, or a certain type of play style or game situation." The Overwatch team, as they do, is still looking into it.