Overwatch ranking meddles with your skill rating and your mind

Overwatch’s competitive ranking system, I assumed, was powered by arcane forces and could only be understood by folk with dark, eldritch knowledge. That’s why I stopped playing that mode. That, and because I’m awful. Just abysmally awful. As it turns out, it’s not magic, but it is a little bit evil.

Speaking to designer Scott Mercer, Kotaku has clarified a few things, pulling back the curtain and revealing a bit more about how the system works.  

The thing that’s been bothering a lot of people is that Overwatch sometimes ranks them low despite a slew of victories at the start of a season. That’s because it takes into account skill ratings from previous seasons. Some players have been demanding a reset at the start of every new season, but Mercer says that’s not going to happen. 

“There are two competing concepts,” he told Kotaku. “Psychologically, a lot of people want a fresh start... The other thing we’re trying to do is find as fair matches as possible. On the other hand, if we rolled over last season to the next one, it wouldn’t feel like enough of a start.”

Overwatch also reduces skill ratings by around 200 points between seasons. During the first 40 to 50 matches, however, wins increase your skill rating by more, until you’re back up to your actual level. It’s a bit sneaky. “We do that to give you a sense that you are improving over time,” explained Mercer. 

So there you have it: Overwatch is messing with you, making you feel like crap so that you feel better when you work your way back up to your previous rank.

Fraser Brown
Online Editor

Fraser is the UK online editor and has actually met The Internet in person. With over a decade of experience, he's been around the block a few times, serving as a freelancer, news editor and prolific reviewer. Strategy games have been a 30-year-long obsession, from tiny RTSs to sprawling political sims, and he never turns down the chance to rave about Total War or Crusader Kings. He's also been known to set up shop in the latest MMO and likes to wind down with an endlessly deep, systemic RPG. These days, when he's not editing, he can usually be found writing features that are 1,000 words too long or talking about his dog.