Some ideas are too good to be true.
Do you remember the originally advertised demographics based matchmaking system for Ubisoft’s ambitious MMORPG, The Division? You have to remember, it sounded so ambitious, and like the greatest thing ever. As The Examiner points out, the then Creative Director Nicklas Cederstrom for The Division described a kind of matchmaking system that sounded, frankly, revolutionary.
“We want to do something revolutionary…The game is best when you play with friends,” Cederstrom had said. “Obviously some people will want to play on their own, they can go ahead and do that, it’s perfectly fine. As soon as you group up with other people, the game’s difficulty becomes harder and you get more rewards, better XP, more loot [and] all of those kind of things. We want to make sure that people who don’t have friends to play the game [with] can get a good party going.
“What we’ve done is we’re making sure we’ve matched up players with the right skill set for you. Maybe you have a young baby or whatever at home and you want to play with people who are respectful of that and that will hook you up with those kind of people. You can say ‘oh wait I need two minutes the baby is crying’ and everyone has the same situation at the same time, ‘okay no problem.'”
However, this system ended up not making it into the game after all- in a more recent interview with The Examiner, current Creative Director Magnus Jansen explained how this was probably too ambitious to get working in the end.
“It’s important for us that you notice matchmaking as little as possible. We don’t want people filling in a form or talking too much. We try to not show you the matchmaking so that when you walk into the DarkZone it’s completely seamless, there’s no wait, there’s no lobby, all of that is handled as you get close to the DarkZone. For the matchmaking, what we’ve ended up focusing on is the ping, experience, connection and focusing on as close to you as possible.
“We try to sort out [players] being close to your language and time zone. [If you put people together] in different time zones, then they’re going to go to bed at different points. Really, it’s all about the ping and the proximity that is giving us the best results.
“Then there are some behavioral [factors], like what type of a player are you? But we are going to wait and see with that, I’ll be purposefully vague on that in terms of the details that you mentioned because I think initially, we are going to try and find you a good and close player,” Jansen told Examiner.com.
It’s a shame, really- honestly it is. It sounded like something legitimately great, and something that may have changed the paradigm for online games going forwards. There is a lot of merit to the idea, at the very least, so I hope someone decides to tackle it again some time in the future- if not Ubisoft, then some other publisher or developer.