Apex Legends dev boldly declares that 'queue times are too short,' but let's hear them out

apex legends horizon
(Image credit: Respawn)

Have you ever sat around waiting to find a ranked match in your FPS of choice and thought, man, I wish this queue could take a bit longer! I'm having such a nice time doing nothing?

You'll have your wish in Apex Legends: Respawn Entertainment declared today that "queue times are too short" in a blog post opening up about Apex's recently rebooted ranked mode (as spotted by PCGamesN). The lengthy, surprisingly candid post examines the mode from every angle—what's working, what's failing, and the problems creating friction at higher levels of play, one of them being queue times.

Bold of a studio to tell millions of players that they should be waiting longer to play their game, but before we detonate a review bomb, let's hear them out. Respawn believes Apex Legends' matchmaker isn't working hard enough to find good matchups for its highest-skilled players—or in other words, that it's more concerned with finding quick matches than fair ones. The losers, in many cases, are the lower-skilled players those high-skill players end up matched against.

"Matchmaking is failing at the extreme end of very high skill," reads the post. "These players are getting into matches too quickly, creating unfair matches with a too wide MMR range—mercilessly eliminating the lobby. We’re working on improving matchmaking for that end of the ladder to combat this."

apex legends season 17 ranked graphs

(Image credit: Respawn Entertainment)

Respawn illustrated the problem with graphs that admittedly look very boring, but are pretty convincing. You can see above that the skill difference between you and other players stays low and consistent throughout most ranks (good news: most of your opponents are around your skill level), but the variance skyrockets at the highest divisions. 

Below, you can see that the average wait time for ranked matches is virtually the same across every skill bracket at 25-35 seconds. That is definitely weird. At the highest levels of Valorant, CS:GO, Rainbow Six Siege, and Overwatch 2, it's not uncommon to wait 10-15 minutes for the matchmaker to work its magic. Kinda sucks for them, but it represents the system working: if you're in the top 1% of players in your region, then there's naturally a very small number of players that it'd be fair to match you against.

apex legends season 17 ranked graphs

(Image credit: Respawn Entertainment)

That isn't news to Respawn either—according to the post, insufficiently short queue times are actually the result of a bug that has now been identified, but not yet fixed.

Apex's new Ranked, launched back in May with Season 17, replaces the old Ranked Points (RP) system with Ladder Points (LP) and places a greater emphasis on staying alive versus getting eliminations. This aspect of the mode was criticized early on by some for rewarding players putting in less work, with one streamer proving a point by reaching top rank without getting a kill. At the time Respawn said this was an outlier in a rollout that was otherwise going as planned, but now with an entire season's worth of data to consider, big adjustments are coming to Ladder Points in Season 18.

First on the agenda: address an "excess" of Masters players caused "a mix of bugs and the overly generous LP tuning." Apparently, Apex has been showering ranked players in so much LP that far too many have managed to make it to Masters, the second-highest skill bracket in the game.

apex legends season 17 ranked graphs

That purple bar really shouldn't be so tall. (Image credit: Respawn Entertainment)

To quell the overpopulation, Respawn is instituting an open season on overrated players with two Season 18 changes:

  1. Tone down LP rewards and fix matchmaking bugs
  2. Introduce "increased stakes and LP losses" for players in Diamond rank and above

From now on, you'll have more to lose as you climb the ranks, which brings Apex's ranked system more in line with how other games do things. Respawn had a lot more to say about the future of Ranked, including planned changes to circle damage to counteract "ratting" behavior where players will hide outside the playable zone for as long as possible to avoid fights. If you ask me, passive players will always be a problem in battle royale as long as survival is the ultimate goal.

Morgan Park
Staff Writer

Morgan has been writing for PC Gamer since 2018, first as a freelancer and currently as a staff writer. He has also appeared on Polygon, Kotaku, Fanbyte, and PCGamesN. Before freelancing, he spent most of high school and all of college writing at small gaming sites that didn't pay him. He's very happy to have a real job now. Morgan is a beat writer following the latest and greatest shooters and the communities that play them. He also writes general news, reviews, features, the occasional guide, and bad jokes in Slack. Twist his arm, and he'll even write about a boring strategy game. Please don't, though.