Every single day since the game launched, we receive many many upset complaints in ALL CAPS about how the player in question pressed the “Battle” button and they were handed a match which they thought was unfair. Many of these players quit playing the game shortly thereafter. Many players in the past have quit playing the game when they see such a match without bothering to write in to complain about it. This has been, by far, the biggest complaint players have with our game.
The people who read/write on this forum are a very biased sample. Anyone who is on this forum is someone who was willing to look past all of those problems and play the game anyway – and play it long enough that they’re engaged enough to yap on this forum. I also am like you – I personally thought the old system was pretty good. Unfortunately, we’re in the minority – we’re the small set of people who were willing to play anyway even though the matchmaker would do things which we thought looked unfair sometimes. We were willing to see past that and keep playing the game anyway. The vast majority of people who play the game see a match where they think is unfair and say “this game is broken, I’m quitting now.” It’s way too hard to explain to them why the old matchmaking made sense (Why do I have to fight someone who has cards which are higher than mine? Why does my medals move up a small amount and then sometimes down a large amount?)
We had to do something about it. We tried for 9 months to try to make an ELO-based ranking matchmaking system work, implementing lots of changes and bandaids. We failed to make that work. We continued to get lots and lots of complaints about unfair matches no matter what we tried… until three days ago! We’ve received 0 complaints about unfair matches since the update came out – except from battles in events (which we can be pretty easily converted to the new system as well!)
We’re going to try this, monitor the results and see how this plays out. We had to take some risk to try to fix this problem – it’s the very most loudest complaint we’ve heard since the game was released. We understand that the people who were willing to play in the old system don’t need or necessity want this change — but we couldn’t sit and ignore the problem. If we actually manage to solve the “I think this game gives me unfair matches” problem, our #1 complaint since launch – I think that’s a very good thing. If we manage to strike that problem off the list, it gives us some space to weave back in some of the things we’ve lost in the transition.
We are fully aware of the things which were lost in making this change – I personally was in charge of the social features of the game and am very aware how much things like 2v2, ranking, rank boarders, leaderboards lead to building community. We had to take some risk and make a core change – even if it broke some of that stuff. Once we see how this new matchmaking system is working out, we’ll figure out the right way to bring some of that stuff back in.