Opinion: Removing a few of SMITE’s game modes is healthy

Removing SMITE Game Modes
Seem a little overwhelming? This is just the casual modes…

As Hi-Rez Studios continues to experiment with “the largest changes [to matchmaking] in several years,” and players’ dissatisfaction with SMITE’s matchmaking grows, the idea of removing game modes has come up once again.

But this time, instead of the discussion being only hearsay, Stew Chisam, President of Hi-Rez, admitted on Twitter, “We’ve talked about ways to consolidate/remove Clash & Siege but hopefully still appease the population” and are looking at options for SMITE’s sixth season.

SMITE has an almost overwhelming seven casual modes — eight if there happens to be an Adventure running — and three ranked queues. And I think removing a few of these is a fantastic idea.

Those in favor of removing modes always bring up the following points: SMITE’s player base is too split up, so removing modes will increase the quality of matchmaking, and there are too many modes accomplishing the same thing. The mode most cited for removal is Siege, a 4v4 objective-based mode similar to Conquest.

Those against removing modes believe such an act would not direct players to other modes — namely Conquest, considered to be SMITE’s main mode — but would instead make these players quit SMITE entirely.

First, let’s get it out of the way that I agree with both sides. Yes, it’s true, players who don’t like Conquest will not magically play Conquest even if they wake up one morning to find Hi-Rez has removed every option except SMITE’s “premier mode.” Despite this, it is also true that removing lesser-played modes will increase the quality of SMITE’s matchmaking.

smite
Sorry, Mr. Siege Juggernaut. But you need to go.

But if I don’t think the removal of modes will funnel players into other queues, why do I believe the overall matchmaking experience will improve? The answer: because the matchmaking in some SMITE modes is simply too poor to be acceptable in a competitive multiplayer game.

Having been a SMITE player for more than five years with over 4,000 matches played, the worst matchmaking I have experienced continues to be in Siege and Ranked 3v3 Joust. I’ve endured Reddit downvotes — and sometimes upvotes, depending on the crowd — for years arguing that these two modes need to go. I’ve been on both sides of the equation: a member of the party slaughtering unsuspecting new or low-skilled players, or the experienced solo-queue player confused as to why they’re stuck with three people on their 12th match of SMITE ever.

Then, finally, after a long while of Hi-Rez not releasing official statistics about SMITE’s game modes, HiRezStew posted a chart of SMITE’s matches per mode, and it’s no surprise to see those exact two modes nearly dead last in SMITE’s PVP modes, tailed only by Ranked 1v1 Duel. Players avoid these modes, and not because they don’t like the gameplay, but because they don’t like the matchmaking.

SMITE Game Mode Popularity in Order
On May 6, 2018, HiRezStew released this chart of SMITE’s mode popularity in order

Especially considering 3v3 Joust is a ranked mode and should be the steepest competition you can get outside of the SMITE Pro League, having such a low amount of interested players makes for a bad experience that reflects poorly on SMITE. When Grandmasters regularly play against Silvers with queues topping 10 minutes if you’re lucky, sorry, but it has to go.

Then Siege, a casual mode, is unlocked at account level 15, which can be reached quickly, especially with double and triple XP weekends. Of course, we as experienced players understand that sometimes depending on the time of day and game mode, SMITE matchmaking may be off, but imagine being a bright-eyed level 15 player excited about the new mode you just unlocked. Then, you endure Siege matchmaking, and it turns you off to SMITE because you’re a customer who expects better when you’re investing your valuable time and money into a new game.

That said, the removal of Clash, as HiRezStew originally mentioned alongside Siege, does not seem likely due to its popularity. Assault also looks out of the question, and Arena and casual 3v3 Joust are not even options due to their dominance as SMITE’s most-played modes. But cutting the bottom three or even four — Ranked 3v3 Joust, Siege, 1v1 Duel, MOTD — is not a stretch.

clash
Don’t worry, Apophis. Clash is probably safe.

And remember, I agree with the opposition who argues some players will quit SMITE should these modes be removed. Yes, some will quit SMITE. But if what we get in the end is a more polished, higher quality product that has a better reputation and attracts more players, isn’t that a worthwhile investment to make?

 

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6 comments

  1. I play arena the most because it is fast paced with nonstop action and it rarely passes 20 minutes. My second favorite game mode is clash. The Apophis buff is too weak for sieging the phoenix, though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Also, multi queueing fixes a lot of those issues. We sometimes multiqueue siege in a party, but you should know not to queue for only siege during low population times.

      But I don’t think you can multi queue ranked game modes so it wouldn’t surprise me if your ranked queue passes the 10 minute mark.

      Like

  2. After Joust, Siege is probably my favourite game mode, but I have noticed the poor matchmaking on occasions. I would be disappointed if Siege would to be removed and it would definitely not divert me to play Conquest instead.
    I actually find matchmaking to be much worse in Clash which I used to enjoy playing but have recently ignored due to very poor matches. I’ll be annoyed if they remove Assault though as that game mode is so unique and it’s fun to play from time to time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with many of your points. I actually really enjoyed Siege as a mode when it was first added, but the decrease in players over time making for horrible matchmaking has soured the experience. I have nothing against any of the modes cited for removal and enjoy many of them; it just seems that with poor matchmaking in addition to never receiving any updates or attention from Hi-Rez, removing these modes is a better option than letting them rot and further sour SMITE’s reputation for bad matchmaking.

      Someone had the idea of removing the lesser-played modes and adding them to the MOTD rotation (like Domination). That could work well and wouldn’t mean they are gone for good, and maybe there would be renewed interest if they weren’t always available.

      People reacted the same way when Domination was removed a long time ago, but we moved on with it, and Hi-Rez ended up adding arguably better and more popular modes that were able to sustain better player bases, so I still firmly believe cutting the slack can lead to a better future for SMITE even if it’s not visible right now.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I definitely agree that adding these game modes to MotD would be a refreshing option if they were to be removed and at least that way they wouldn’t be gone for good.
        It will definitely be interesting to see what Hi-Rez will do, particularly because they are trying to make so many changes this Season.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, definitely! I’m also really enjoying the recent openness from Hi-Rez. Openly talking about considering removing game modes, keeping players updated on the matchmaking issues, making multiple changes to the Divine Uprising event since its announcement, etc. has all made for some interesting conversation!

        Liked by 1 person

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