Gears of War 4 - State of Matchmaking

Since our Quality of Service matchmaking was implemented earlier this month, we've been monitoring the data and reviewing your feedback to see how things are going. At the studio, we’re having daily conversations about Matchmaking to cover what’s working, what could be improved, and what our next steps will be.

Now that we’d had an extended period of time to monitor the results, we’re ready to share information on everything Quality of Service. Buckle up for an info drop.

Initial Release

When we removed regions, our intention was to increase the number of other players you could be matched with by letting you play on additional data centers – the more players you have to match with means more balanced teams and shorter matchmaking times. Additionally, players who had previously chosen to play in a different region (and therefore would never play on their best data center) would now have improved experiences by playing on their local data center for the vast majority of their matches.

And that’s exactly what happened! Teams were better balanced than they have been since launch, matchmaking times in our Core and Competitive playlists were significantly reduced (~25-50%), and more matches were happening in the most appropriate data centers (with marked improvement in our lower population data centers).

We also saw an increase in average player ping, which wasn’t unexpected. Essentially, if we couldn’t find a good match in your best data center within a certain period of time, we considered other data centers (e.g. data centers that you have a higher ping to).

While the data shows ping only increased by an average of ~5-10ms (yes, we know there were instances of much higher pings) we’ve clearly heard your feedback that ping is very important.

With all this in mind, we released two behind the scenes updates to matchmaking over the past 5 days to further improve our system.

Since The Recent Update

Matchmaking is a dance between balanced teams, ping and how long you’ll wait to join a match – it’s very difficult to improve one without impacting the others. In our latest updates over the weekend, we targeted further reductions to average player ping while keeping the teams well balanced, prioritizing matches on your local datacenter with balanced skill matches before expanding the search gradually over time.

We’ve seen even more improvements with this Update – more players are playing with a lower average ping each match and almost always play on their local data center in Core and Competitive ranked playlists.

As you would expect, this stricter prioritization may result in longer matchmaking times in some instances but it should result in an improved experience every time you play. We’ve also removed the matchmaking timeout (meaning matchmaking will no longer be cancelled after 5 minutes) to accommodate people playing during non-peak periods or in remote regions.

Ping in gears of war 4

We know there’s a lot of confusion out there around ping, so here’s a quick fire explanation on how Ping works in Gears of War 4. The most important point to note is that In-Game Ping (scoreboard) and your Data Center Ping (menu) are not the same TYPE of latency measurement (or ping).

If you head to the Matchmaking Options menu, you’ll see your ping to our data centers. This is a measurement of the amount of time it takes for a network packet to travel to the data center and back, with no gameplay processing. (Note: If the values you see there are higher than you expect, Xbox One players can follow the steps on our networking slow performance to try and resolve the problem.)

Once you’ve joined a match, you’re connected to a game server within a data center. The ping we show in the scoreboard is measuring the amount of time it takes for a network packet to travel to the game server and back plus gameplay processing time. Gameplay processing time is a very stable value for all users in the match that will contribute to your Ping. Network traffic fluctuations are common, but generally your in-game ping is going to show a higher value than in the Matchmaking Options menu.

By using this system, we’re able to give you a completely accurate gameplay latency measurement rather than just your connection ping to the server.

What’s Next

We will continue to monitor the data and listen to your feedback to further tighten and tune our Quality of Service matchmaking. This is a brand new system that’s just left the starting blocks, and over the coming weeks, we’ll be continuing to refine it to provide the best experience possible. Next up, we’re planning some improvements to Social to bring it more in line with the changes introduced over the weekend in Core and Competitive.

As always, we want to hear what you think! Keep the feedback flowing by tweeting @CoalitionGears and we’ll be listening. See you out there.

TC