A Fireside Chat with Michael Condrey – Matchmaking, Reverse Boosting, Trick Shotting and the like

by Sledgehammer Games


I wanted to start this off by thanking you all for being passionate and enthusiastic fans of Call of Duty. We, as developers, owe all of Advanced Warfare’s success to you. We are absolutely committed to making the game better every day for you. When we set out to make Advanced Warfare, well over three years ago, we dedicated ourselves to delivering something special, and the team is as driven now, as it was then, to achieving that goal. We have pushed to improve and add to the game in pursuit of something that keeps everyone thrilled. A huge part of that is listening to how you react as we add new features to the game, being extremely considerate of your feedback, and making the best decisions to ensure a quality experience for the very large and diverse player base that enjoys the game each and every day.


In an effort to be transparent with you all, I also wanted to address a few of the bigger conversations happening within the community today. We have seen a lot of discussion about matchmaking in Advanced Warfare. I wanted to provide some information and help clarify for those interested as there is a collective passion for the topic. First, and I can't stress this enough, player connection to the host always takes priority over skill in the matchmaking process – always, no exceptions. Fast connection to a match hosted on our global dedicated servers is the most important component of our matchmaking system. And yes, to a lesser extent skill as a component of matchmaking is important, too. We believe that it adds a level of fairness in the mechanism for team balance and individual enjoyment. The system we have today is, to all intents and purposes, identical to what Activision has always had in place, with the same matchmaking parameters, as previous Call of Duty titles. We continue to monitor and optimize our systems, but the speed of connection is and always will be our first priority. The system is designed to put you in the best match, with balanced teams composed of players of varying skill from your geographic region.  We consistently look at millions of points of player and match data, and kill to death ratios are up across every band in Advanced Warfare.  Yes, even Glen's KD of 0.10 is a vast improvement from his previous performances. In short, almost universally, kill to death ratios are up, and people are playing longer, and that makes us happy. A few of you have asked, and we’ve also noticed, that some players have experienced fringe cases like being matched with someone in another country.  Much of this comes down to the pool of people online and which modes are being played at any point in time. This is a constantly moving target – from day to day, night to night, across every time zone and region on the planet.  It also changes as we introduce new game modes to the experience, or have DoubleXP events within parts of the game. For now, know that our engineers are constantly reviewing the game telemetry data so that we can make the best-informed decisions with speed to connection as the first and most important criteria.  We remain committed to optimizing our matchmaking and connectivity, like we always have, throughout the weeks and months ahead.  Of course, we’ll update you on any new improvements as we make them and look forward to hearing your feedback on our efforts.


On a separate topic, we’ve also heard questions about our banning policy, particularly as we've seen players using “reverse boosting” with excessive suicides in online matches driving a lot of frustration within the community. Playing at home, I’ve been randomly matched with players doing this and it’s incredibly frustrating to lose based largely on my team being down a contributing teammate.  We’ve also had a lot of players bring up their same concern about playing in matches with these players.  No one wants to lose an objective based match by effectively being outnumbered while their teammate shoots grenades into their own forehead 100 times in the corner. It’s not right, and it hurts you and your team’s online experience. Call of Duty is both social and competitive, and we respect and honor that. Part of the competition that is core to our values is that players do not adversely degrade their team's ability to compete fairly.  It's not dissimilar from the bans that cheaters and boosters receive, and we have increased our focus on reverse boost banning to combat the growing issue. No one is trying to restrict the fun factor of playing Advanced Warfare with this policy, nor are we actively banning against particular styles of play, like trick shots.  However, we have a low tolerance approach to people who ruin the experience for others through cheating, boosting, reverse boosting or being caught with toxic emblems in game. We don’t like seeing any of these happen, and we're pushing to eliminate these behaviors from the game.


I play Advanced Warfare, our 200+ strong team of developers at the studio plays Advanced Warfare, and we’re committed to making this the best experience for the remainder of 2015 and beyond. This has been an intensely personal journey for all of us, and there’s nothing more important to us than making this to be the greatest game, and gamer community, that it can be. I hope, even if you don't agree with everything I've shared here, that you recognize our commitment to you and the game. If you do agree, don't hesitate to drop me a note on Twitter. If you disagree or need to rant, please hit up to Glen Schofield.  And If you have any questions about our policies, please direct them to our social team @SHGames, our customer service partners at @ATVIAssist, or be sure to check out our support forums located at https://support.activision.com/aw.


Thanks so much for your time.  I'll see you online!




Studio Head & Co-Founder of Sledgehammer Games

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