Blizzard Considered Single Tank Compositions as Antidote to Long Queue Times

Facing long queue times, Blizzard considered switching Overwatch's role queue from an even split across tanks, DPS and supports and moving instead to one tank, three DPS and two supports.

"In early December, we were brainstorming ways to shorten DPS queue times and the idea was proposed to try changing the role queue team composition to be 1 Tank, 3 Damage, and 2 Support," game director Jeff Kaplan wrote on the Blizzard forums Tuesday. "Our matchmaking engineers did some modeling around queue times, expected behaviors etc. and all indications pointed to an overall positive improvement to all queue times under a scenario like that."

The Overwatch development team initially shied away from implementing the change publicly based on previous tests of a 4-1-1 structure, but it has tested the 1-3-2 system for close to two months now. Those tests revealed several challenges and advantages.

"The biggest issues center around D.Va, Zarya and Roadhog," Kaplan wrote. These offtanks had to be sorted as tanks or DPS, and weren't balanced well for either role, opening a can of worms in terms of balance.

The 1-3-2 system also put undue pressure on tank players, both to choose the consensus correct option and to perform at maximum capacity at all times. Support players reported increased pressure on them to keep the lone tank alive.

"In general, these matches are more chaotic and (I'll touch on this later) feel 'more FPS-y.' The result is good or bad depending on the type of player you are," Kaplan wrote.

On the DPS side, players felt less pressure and were freer to explore with unusual compositions.

For his part, Kaplan compared the experience to early Overwatch, in which similar compositions were the standard.

"I tried to calm people down by reminding them that MOST of the matches in OW history since launch up until the release of role queue, were actually played with one tank... or less," he wrote.

Kaplan did not expect the change to make it to live Overwatch, but expressed interest in opening tests up to players.

"We've also been brainstorming if there is a way to bring this experiment to the community somehow (either through the PTR or the live game somehow). We don't want to freak people out though."

Overwatch began its 20th competitive season Jan. 2.