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Don't mess up the launch – a matchmaking perspective on game release




The Importance of Launch Day Matchmaking


The launch day of a new multiplayer is a unique opportunity: player engagement and activity levels are often at their peak. And yet certain critical features such as high-quality matchmaking for PvP are sometimes promised for a later update, or conditioned on the initial success of the game. This is a critical mistake, as the best moment to show-off high quality matchmaking is to take advantage of this initial influx of players, and start a virtuous cycle.


Skill Diversity and Matchmaking


Although players may be new to the game, they're often not new to a genre, and skill differences can emerge rapidly. For high-level players, such as former RTS pros trying out a new RTS, being matched in competitive games is the quickest way to master the game, push the limits of the "meta", and lay the groundwork for a competitive scene. For newcomers, on the other hand, being overwhelmed by more experienced players might be discouraging, as games end too quickly to learn anything. Conversely, well-balanced matches provide more time for players to explore and enjoy the game. In either scenario, having a solid matchmaking system from the game's release maximizes player engagement.


The Role of Matchmaking in Community Building


This, in turn, increases the odds that players stick with the game, and a community is able to grow around it. For a given queue, the notion of critical mass is pivotal: if at any moment in the day, players know they can queue up and get an enjoyable and predictable matchmaking experience, they will keep coming back to it. The easiest way to create this effect is to combine the opportunity that the game’s launch represents in terms of activity with top notch matchmaking. For this reason, we also advise our customers to launch their game with a limited number of (mutually exclusive) queues, as to not dilute their player base too much. Too often, games released with a lot of game modes feel like a ghost town.


Overcoming the Matchmaking Paradox


The critical issue here is that we have a chicken and egg problem. How to develop a good matchmaking algorithm, before any data has even been collected? Does it even make sense to invest time into solving such a problem, when we don’t know yet if the launch will be successful? But how can the game be successful without it!


At Idem, we offer a solution to these dilemmas. First, our matchmaking algorithms were designed in a way that adapts on-the-fly to the particularities of the player base for each game mode. No tuning is required over time. As the matches accumulate and the statistical properties of the player base change, it’s taken into account for an optimal matchmaking experience. For example, if a queue is launched only for a single market, our matchmaker is able to relax its parameters in the middle of the night, where activity is lowest, to ensure players still get matched into games. Second, our simple-to-use API makes sure that the development costs associated with our matchmaker are minimal, as you do not have to reinvent the (pretty complex) wheel, and can instead focus your resources on making the best game possible, while we take care of matchmaking on a pay-as-you-go basis, with no overhead. By opting for Idem, you're not just enhancing your game with top-tier matchmaking; you're securing its future and unlocking its full potential, and we're willing to take that journey with you and provide you with our matchmaking expertise along the way.

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