Free-to-play battle royale shooter Ring of Elysium unexpectedly disabled Solo and Duo matchmaking on NA servers due to “queue time being rather long”, hoping that players play Squad Mode instead, and “make some new friends while adventuring in-game”. The move was awkward, the communication even more so, and naturally followed yet an other round of player outrage.
The Unexpected NA Closure of Solo/Duo
Yesterday, the ROE team announced the “temporary” removal of solo and duo queues on NA servers with near to immediate effect, and that was very short notice for such an important announcement! Letting players know at the last minute that their game is about to be missing their most favoured features isn’t the best of moves, especially on a Saturday, a special gaming day for many.
In order to assure your game experience and shorten matchmaking times, we will be deploying a patch today and temporarily disable the Solo and Duo mode matchmaking for both TPP and FPP on NA servers
But that’s not all. While the solo and duo modes were removed, the training mode was also taken out, and only the squad mode remained up and running.
Squad mode matchmaking will not be affected. Please note: The “Training Mode” matchmaking option will also be disabled on NA servers.
Weird, and intriguing, to say the least, considering that many players don’t play Squad Mode but stick solely to Solo and Duo matchmaking. Also, bear in mind that at this stage, the only given reason for such inconvenience was “to assure game experience and shorten matchmaking times“.
Even more strange or suspicious is the part of the announcement above that mentions “temporarily” disabling the modes, but then hints at the possibility of it being permanent later in the same message:
We will closely monitor the matchmaking status and determine whether we want to enable the Solo and Duo queue again. Thank you so much for your understanding and support.
As you can imagine, a flow of rage quickly ensued, with over 300 comments submitted by angry Steam users within a matter of hours, which is quite a lot and proves that ROE remains a popular game for a significant amount of players.
This game used to be awesome. I played Solo and duo from the beginning. The ROE DEV team has blocked everyone from SOLO and DUO. I was so passionate about this game. Now I’m completely turned off, agitated, irritated and unhappy. I feel like I live in a dictatorship and Kim Jung Un just took away my freedom…. Tencent is dead to me. Steam User Chris wrote in his updated review
Weird Move, and Insane Communication
Today, Sunday, just the day after, the ROE team came back with another announcement, in a somewhat desperate attempt to contain the rage by apologizing and better explaining their move, or so is what you’d expect. Yet, the 2nd announcement only reinforced the flaws found in the first one:
“Recently, we noticed that the matchmaking queue time on NA server are rather long, to assure the game experience for NA players, we were forced to take emergency measures and we disabled the Solo and Duo matchmaking modes on NA server temporarily.“
The ROE team states that they were forced to take emergency measures to address queue time, because player experience was at stake, but that doesn’t seem to be a valid statement. According to players, queue time was not that much of an issue. Players had to wait around 4 minutes to get into a game, sure, but that was simply because of low player count, and those who were waiting weren’t actually that bothered.
But that’s not all, the announcement continues into ridiculing itself even further:
“After a day of observation, we analyzed our various data and we concluded that the emergency measure was effective, which significantly shortened the matchmaking time taken.“
What? So, they decided to remove two of the three game modes, saw that more players were now playing the only remaining Squad Mode, thereby slightly reducing queue times in that mode, before seeing fit to conclude that it was therefore a good move. Am I missing something or ROE is really taking its players for fools? Oh, to top it up, it goes on with the emergency once again…
“However, due to the urgency of this issue, we were not able to notify you about this change beforehand. We are sincerely sorry for the inconvenience we have caused by this.“
…before having the gall to pat players on the back and tell them to try their best at enjoying the one and only remaining Squad Mode, and to make new friends along the way!
“We suggest NA players to temporarily play on Squad mode and we hope you can make some new friends while adventuring in-game.“
Now, lets try to understand why ROE would suddenly seem to go insane in the way it handles player experience/communication/satisfaction.
The ROE Dilemma: Bots VS Long Queues?
The ROE team seems to face a dilemma over the tricky concept of player experience. On the one hand there are players who are put off by the long queue times, but on the other hand there are players who prefer to wait rather than play against bots – the AI driven NPCs that are used to act as concurrent players, filling up empty player slots and allowing queue time cuts until there is virtually none.
The dilemma might be a tricky one to solve, but that can’t justify the way ROE chose to temporarily handle it, which was rather brutal, slippery, and unfair to those who spent money in-game to play exclusively in solo or duo modes.
Do I even have to mention that a game marketed as Battle Royale is expected to have at least a solo, last-man-standing mode?