Overwatch's Skill Rating System Is Busted For Healers

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 maximise 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.


    This is why I stick to quickplay. After the mess that was season 1 and 2 I moved on when Blizzard continued to think it normal to punish a team just for having someone drop out.

      This -> a player drops out and 90% of the time ensures your loss. You still lose points, you still lose rank, but you are not given any advantage to make up for the loss. Even small boosts to health or damage - or hell, don't take points away from us for some tossed leaving would great.

      Had 3 games today where a player left. 2 of them we lost but were the stronger/winning team - the 3rd we fought hard and won for very little points.

      The system is broken and needs to be fixed. Overwatch is fun, but between the imbalance and stupid gameplay decisions - it can also be the most frustrating thing on earth to play.

        An easy fix would be if a team has someone drop out and they consequently lose SR aren't changed for the losing team and it isn't counted as a loss where as the winning team still gets a win.

    to say nothing of the fact if you play healers in placements you end up tanking your score. i have lost 1200 in two season placements alone because i was forced to play healer so much

    This whole season has been shit honestly. From the ridiculous SR decay for the top tiers in an ill-advised attempt to curb smurf accounts to this fiasco, this season just hasn't really been fun.

    They just need to replace quitters/disconnecters with another player.

    They already do this in Quick Play and it's meant to be the training ground for Competitive.

    Make it an opt-in system as not everyone might want to join an in-progress match.

    If the person that disconnected wants to rejoin, they can go in a queue in case someone else on the team drops. If the match ends before that happens, then simply don't adjust their SR.

    If you leave and don't come back you should go in a leavers queue for x amount of games.
    SR gain is busted for anyone who does not play a high kill hero.
    If Overwatch is not going to support solo queue because they still maintain that all players are best to group up, the game should introduce clans and remove solo queue from the game.

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