Recently I have taken to playing Overwatch again – specifically Overwatch 2, which was released a few weeks ago. I wouldn’t say it is a whole new game. All of the elements are the same. Some of the heroes were reworked, loot boxes were removed, and it became free-to-play.
The thing that surprised me, was how much more enjoyable competitive/ranked play has become. This has nothing to do with the team composition change to 5v5 (which I am still a little skeptical about). Rather, Blizzard made a subtle change to how it provides updates to the players’ skill rating (SR) and I think this was a genius bit of psychology.
Let me elaborate. When I was still playing Overwatch 1, a new competitive season would start and it would go something like this:
- Play placement games for each role (15 games total).
- Queue for flex (maybe another 20 games total).
- Return to playing mystery heroes after our first losing streak.
- Repeat next season.
Toxicity of some of the players aside, I just stopped enjoying competitive play in Overwatch 1. After each loss, you watched your SR drop and drop, and each win never seemed to bring it up as much. It was demoralizing. Now I don’t really care where I rank overall – I just want to have some fun in a game mode where everyone is actually trying to win – but losing streaks were just crushing.
In Overwatch 2, Blizzard made the decision to no longer show and update your SR after every match. Rather, you get an update after 7 wins, or 20 losses/draws (whichever comes first). It seemed like a strange design decision at first however, I have tallied up 160 games already this season. Is my ranking any better? No! Am I enjoying it? Heck yes! You see, this subtle change has removed the added sting from losing. Don’t get me wrong, a losing streak still sucks, but the game isn’t throwing it in your face a 2nd time when it shows you your SR going down. They also attempted to keep the dopamine hit you get when winning, by showing a winning-progress-bar counting up to your 7 wins. Not as effective as watching your SR go up in realtime, but effective enough in my opinion. I have only ever seen my SR adjust after winning due to these changes.
The result is that I can just enjoy the game mode I want to actually play and not care as much about where I rank.
Good job Blizzard. Jury is still out on whether I like 5v5-1 tank compositions though 😉