Forums / Community / Matchmaking Feedback & Discussion

[Locked] Matchmaking Feedback Update – December 11

OP ZaedynFel

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Population
We know people are curious about our population and every now and then we see estimates. There was a recent reddit post where I corrected a math mistake resulting in the number 150k, which has since been misquoted as an estimate for how many players we see across a ranking season. That number has absolutely nothing to do with our current population, and is, in fact, a small fraction compared to what we see in just a month, let alone an entire season.

I’m not here to give out raw numbers, but H5’s population is currently in great shape.

Keep in mind, though, that your individual experience in matchmaking is going to depend on several factors:
  • Searching Focused / Balanced / Expanded
  • Geographic location
  • Time of day
  • Day of week
  • Popularity of the playlist
  • Skill
  • Party size
  • Competitiveness of the playlist
These factors make judging population based on your matchmaking experience misleading.

One of the items on this list we haven’t talked much about is Playlist Competitiveness. Some game modes are more sensitive to skill gap than others. For example, modes like SWAT and Super Fiesta still have near even matches even with a significant skill gap between teams. For that reason, we aren’t as tight on their matchmaking requirements.

On the other hand, the game modes we see in most of the ranked playlists are sensitive to the skill gap, so the matchmaker tries longer, and also outright prevents matches beyond certain gaps. In ranked playlists, you wait longer because it has to be stricter to prevent bad matches.


Playlist Popularity

We get asked a lot about the how the different playlists rank in popularity, so below I’ve ranked each playlist by how popular they were in the last week.

Keep in mind that while rotationals like Shotty Snipers look decent in this list, they historically drop off quickly over the 2 weeks we run them, so we take them down before they overstay their welcome. Its current status is typical for how long it’s been up and it has been dropping steadily.

Slayer
Warzone
Super Fiesta
Heroic Warzone Firefight
Big Team Battle
Shotty Snipers
Legendary Warzone Firefight
Infection
Team Arena
Mythic Warzone Firefight
HaloWC Preview
SWAT
Doubles
Action Sack
Free-For-All
Breakout
Warzone Assault
Snipers
Grifball

Matches not Starting When Someone Backs Out

Many of you have brought to our attention that it’s possible to see a full match get set up, someone leaves, and then it struggles to fill that slot. It might actually be unrelated to matchmaking, strangely enough, and we are actively investigating it.

Holidays!

After this week, I'll be on vacation until the new year, so no posts for a couple of weeks. Everyone have a good one!
I find it hard to believe that Halo 5's population is in "great shape".
I have a great connection and open NAT and even in the more popular playlists it can still take me several minutes to find a match.
It would be nice to have live population stats like we used to. So we can pick another playlist once we see the population is small and choose something else instead of waiting for a long time to find a game.
Enjoy your Christmas & New Year vacation Josh. Thanks for the Feedback!
If the population is in such great shape, why not give us the figures?
And y'all wonder why they don't give out exact numbers lol.

Even if Josh did give us exact counters, you guys wouldn't believe him. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

It would be nice to have live population stats like we used to. So we can pick another playlist once we see the population is small and choose something else instead of waiting for a long time to find a game.
This is partially why they DON'T put playlist counters in because it becomes self-fulfilling. People avoid the low lists and effectively kill them but then wonder why no one plays said list. It's entirely circular.
Bloke wrote:
If the population is in such great shape, why not give us the figures?
Because people will use it to push a false narrative and click bait videos. They have explained already why they will not show it.
I find it hard to believe that Halo 5's population is in "great shape". I have a great connection and open NAT and even in the more popular playlists it can still take me several minutes to find a match.
The comment "in great shape" is probably relative to the fact that it's a 2+ year old game. Given that I've ventured into the matchmaking of other similarly old games and have found the experience to be exteremly poor indicates to me that Halo 5's population isn't terrible. Is it what it once was? No, and it's unfair to expect it to be.
It would be nice to have live population stats like we used to. So we can pick another playlist once we see the population is small and choose something else instead of waiting for a long time to find a game.
That's exactly why they don't have live population stats.
No wonder I never find games when I decide to check Warzone Assault.

Pop counters didn't have much of an effect, if any, in previous Halo games. Just looking at Grifball, that has always been at the bottom of the lists. Not seeing the actual numbers behind it won't boost Grifball past Snipers because at this point (and at any point in time) each playlist finds its group and that group sticks with it. People that Warzone will play Warzone, play Arena stick with Arena, Infection, so on and so on.

If a playlist has a low pop number, it isn't because the entire player base saw the number and said "not playing that". They just weren't playing it to begin with.
Pop counters didn't have much of an effect, if any, in previous Halo games. Just looking at Grifball, that has always been at the bottom of the lists.
You can only make this claim from your perspective. From a global perspective, it could be a different story. Perhaps you personally were able to go into the lowest populated playlist in Halo 3 two years after its launch and find a game quickly, but that doesn't mean the playlist was healthy. Considering Menke's expertise in the area, I imagine he knows what he's talking about when it comes to implementing population counters.
ZaedynFel wrote:
We get asked a lot about the how the different playlists rank in popularity, so below I’ve ranked each playlist by how popular they were in the last week.

Keep in mind that while rotationals like Shotty Snipers look decent in this list, they historically drop off quickly over the 2 weeks we run them, so we take them down before they overstay their welcome. Its current status is typical for how long it’s been up and it has been dropping steadily.
Out of curiosity, does the popularity vary by geographic location? Do certain regions prefer certain playlists?

For example, is Team Arena more popular with players in North America vs. Europe, etc.?

Also, does it change by time, day of the week, etc.?
Thanks for that info Josh. I was actually surprised HCS was as high up on the list as it was. Nice to see. Not a surprise about Slayer though. Always the most popular.
ZaedynFel wrote:
Matches not Starting When Someone Backs OutMany of you have brought to our attention that it’s possible to see a full match get set up, someone leaves, and then it struggles to fill that slot. It might actually be unrelated to matchmaking, strangely enough, and we are actively investigating it.
People aren't just leaving... Their game is completely frozen during the search, they don't realize it, and matchmaking doesn't drop them until after it makes the match. Very easy to see when it happens to members on your fireteam/party chat. Primarily see this in BTB.

Regarding the backfilling of new players to the game:. It almost always finds another player, but not before more people have grown impatient and quit the game, or it freezes for them. I did notice today that when it happened while I was solo queueing it would backfill almost immediately and the game would continue. Even just a couple people on the fireteam and the time before finding a replacement player goes way up. I assume this is due to our high skill level.

So it's a double whammy. Can't search with large fireteams in BTB, and when you do finally find a match, the odds are you will not play in it due to this issue.

Shocked to see that BTB was as high as it was in popularity. Would be interesting data to see the rate at which the higher skilled BTB player population (top 1%) has decreased over the past couple months as these searching "improvements" have been implemented.
I'd say just give us the numbers and be done with it. It's much better than having the communities always speculating over population numbers and trying to determine how they're good from your point of view. If the numbers are as good as you say, then you shouldn't have much to worry about. Yeah, people may misconstrue the numbers in some click bait video, but they already do that anyway. At least with actual numbers, people will have facts to form their own opinions as well as counterpoint theirs.

If you can't tell us the numbers, can you let us know how you come up with them? Is it by people logging into the H5 menu or is it by people who play a game? Do you also count smurf accounts in your population stats or is the system not able to tell if they're a smurf or not?
ExO BIGG wrote:
ZaedynFel wrote:
Matches not Starting When Someone Backs OutMany of you have brought to our attention that it’s possible to see a full match get set up, someone leaves, and then it struggles to fill that slot. It might actually be unrelated to matchmaking, strangely enough, and we are actively investigating it.
People aren't just leaving... Their game is completely frozen during the search, they don't realize it, and matchmaking doesn't drop them until after it makes the match. Very easy to see when it happens to members on your fireteam/party chat.

Regarding the backfilling of new players to the game:. It almost always finds another player, but not before more people have grown impatient and quit the game, or it freezes for them. I did notice today that when it happened while I was solo queueing it would backfill almost immediately and the game would continue. Even just a couple people on the fireteam and the time before finding a replacement player goes way up.
Can confirm. Shortly after the last update BTB lobbies would be unfillable for probably 1/3rd of the games. The people i play with have played more than me since then and can confirm its gotten worse. Josh already replied to us that they are working to fix it though.
150,000 a month is just a small fraction of the total population? Why am I having a hard time believing that? Active players at any one time can't be over 5000 with the amount of time it takes to find games.
I find it hard to believe that Halo 5's population is in "great shape".
I have a great connection and open NAT and even in the more popular playlists it can still take me several minutes to find a match.
Monitor SC wrote:
150,000 a month is just a small fraction of the total population? Why am I having a hard time believing that? Active players at any one time can't be over 5000 with the amount of time it takes to find games.
I dunno. Might have something to do with all those factors Zaedynfel mentioned that may affect matchmaking times. I'm sure if they did away with all the skill barriers and let everyone match everyone, regardless of skill/rank/fireteam size/etc., it would feel like there's lots of people playing. But that'd have its own, obvious issues.
ExO BIGG wrote:
ZaedynFel wrote:
Matches not Starting When Someone Backs OutMany of you have brought to our attention that it’s possible to see a full match get set up, someone leaves, and then it struggles to fill that slot. It might actually be unrelated to matchmaking, strangely enough, and we are actively investigating it.
People aren't just leaving... Their game is completely frozen during the search, they don't realize it, and matchmaking doesn't drop them until after it makes the match. Very easy to see when it happens to members on your fireteam/party chat. Primarily see this in BTB.

Regarding the backfilling of new players to the game:. It almost always finds another player, but not before more people have grown impatient and quit the game, or it freezes for them. I did notice today that when it happened while I was solo queueing it would backfill almost immediately and the game would continue. Even just a couple people on the fireteam and the time before finding a replacement player goes way up. I assume this is due to our high skill level.

So it's a double whammy. Can't search with large fireteams in BTB, and when you do finally find a match, the odds are you will not play in it due to this issue.

Shocked to see that BTB was as high as it was in popularity. Would be interesting data to see the rate at which the higher skilled BTB player population (top 1%) has decreased over the past couple months as these searching "improvements" have been implemented.
I was a little surprised to see BTB that high as well. Sorry Bigg, My Company is one of several in that top group that has fallen. I was even trying to conjure them all to come back Friday but to no avail. Most are heavy into Fortnite with a few dipping into various other games. I have been matching games much better lately but I am going in between 1-4 players. I was trying to get 6 to 8 last Friday but failed. Many pointing that Matchmaking was half the issue and the other half was the Weapon tuning (most notably the BR).
I am very frustrated with the fact that Grifball, Action Sack, Breakout, and more are all less popular than HaloWC preview, yet we give them more permanency and tenure than a Social Arena experience like Skirmish (which was horribly mismanaged, by the way).

Additionally, very disappointed to see that FFA and Doubles, despite a myriad of both good and bad setting refreshes, are still near the bottom of the list and are beaten out by competitive settings. These two playlists (and their respective player counts/game styles), have been the secondary avenues for competition in Halo for decades. FFA is renowned for identifying rising 4v4 talent, and Doubles has been a Halo trademark since Combat Evolved. Why are they sustained/updated so infrequently, and why are they not adopting the competitive rulesets from playlists that are more popular than them?

This list has honestly just cemented most of my feelings about Halo playlist management. Genuinely shocked in a lot of areas.
As much as I want to believe you I can't. The # 2 on your list is warzone, as of late while solo queing on expanded I've been waiting a long time to find matches, and since you guys won't release a true number I can't believe you. All I ask is that halo 6 Good.
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