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Apex Legends reveals recent matchmaking changes — with more to come cover image

Apex Legends reveals recent matchmaking changes — with more to come

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Ever wondered how matchmaking works in Apex Legends? Developers have revealed the nitty gritty of the process — but it will be changing soon.

Apex Legends, like other multiplayer games, is often ridiculed for its matchmaking. Players wonder how matchmaking works and what determines a player's teammates and enemies. Now, Respawn Entertainment's technical director Samy Duc has opened up about exactly how its battle royale goes about matchmaking.
Apex Legends matchmaking currently uses the skill rating of the best player in your party and recognizes the party's size when matching them with opponents. But developers are currently working on a way to make matches even more fair when you have teams made up of different skill levels. They are also in the process of retiring the old skill based matchmaking system, which will be replaced with a new and more accurate one.
"We are continuously testing and iterating on our matchmaking systems in the live game to figure out what works best. In fact, many changes have already been tested and rolled out in various regions for Ranked and regular Pub games. And, we’re not done – you can expect more matchmaking refinements to come in the near future," Duc wrote.
Image via EA | "<em>Distribution of Skill in Various Account Level Ranges. X-axis: account level ranges; Y-axis: Skill Rating</em>"
Image via EA | "Distribution of Skill in Various Account Level Ranges. X-axis: account level ranges; Y-axis: Skill Rating"

What does Apex Legends currently use for matchmaking?

When trying to form a match, Apex Legends' matchmaker grabs 60 available players of similar skill levels. This can be done a variety of ways, including forming teams with the closest average skill to create more balance. This is done in pub matches.
But when a pre-made squad joins a match, a bit more has to go into it. According to Duc, there are a four ways that matchmaking calculates a squad's effective skill:
  • LOWEST: Are teams defined by their weakest link? If so, we take the lowest skill rating (2) when matchmaking. But, they’re probably stronger than this.
  • HIGHEST: Are teams defined by their best player? If so, we take the highest skill rating (7) for matchmaking. But, their team is probably weaker than this.
  • AVERAGE: Do players contribute equally in a squad? If so, the average rating of the team would be 5. But, does this truly reflect the squad’s ability to win?
  • WEIGHTED AVERAGE: Do more skillful players carry a team? If so, perhaps we should place more emphasis on the strongest player. Purely for this example, let’s say they have a 50/30/20 weighting, then team skill would be (0.5 x 7) + (0.3 x 6) + (0.2 x 2) = 5.7. But, extracting these weights is non-trivial and may not be the same across all skill levels and modes. 
"<sup><em>Possible ways to compute effective team rating.</em></sup>"
"Possible ways to compute effective team rating."
At the moment, Apex Legends currently uses HIGHEST for Pubs and Ranked matches. This offers the "best protection" against matchmaking exploits like smurfs, ensuring better competitive integrity. It also removes the chance of lower ranked players skewing the match. Of course, this makes it harder for lower level players to compete with higher ranked friends.
Duc noted: "The goal is to balance out the inherent competitive advantage of being in a premade squad by equalizing group sizes across the match. We know that playing with people you know in a premade squad gives you an edge over strangers—you might know how your teammates behave, you might have chemistry, and you might have better communication. However, in reality, it is very difficult and unlikely to get 60 players of similar skill and of equal premade sizes into a match, so it is inevitable that we mix premade sizes."
To "remedy" this, the new matchmaking algorithm is focused on compensating for the "competitive advantage" that pre-made duos and trios have. The team has been experimenting with a new system that will hopefully do just that.
According to developers, the new matchmakming system will roll out early this year.

The future of matchmaking in Apex Legends

"<sup><em>Win Rate for a Squad as their Skill Rating Advantage Over Opponents Increase. X-axis: skill rating difference between two squads; Y-axis: win rate for that encounter</em></sup><em><sup>. 0 is when the two squads that fight each other are at similar skill ratings. Encounter win rates based on actual data.</sup></em>"
"Win Rate for a Squad as their Skill Rating Advantage Over Opponents Increase. X-axis: skill rating difference between two squads; Y-axis: win rate for that encounter. 0 is when the two squads that fight each other are at similar skill ratings. Encounter win rates based on actual data."
The new Apex Legends matchmaking system is currently being tested and improved. Meanwhile, Duc said that they are looking for ways to improve matchmaking and are keeping some important things in mind going forward.
  • Players are constantly improving. For this reason, sometimes players feel they aren't progressing but it's really that "everyone is just getting better together," creating higher bars for the ranked tiers. This makes it harder and harder to jump into the game as well, however — something developers have to consider going forward.
  • The game mode also changes matchmaking. Each mode has "completely different skill rating systems," but all matchmaking will use the same skill rating technology going forward. This means that each mode will need to use different values to create balanced matches.
  • The new skill measurement algorithm is focused on accuracy. The former matchmaking system focused on four skill buckets but the new system will be "more granular" and has "many more buckets."
"Our live tests with this new system shows it works—matches are tighter and wait times remain mostly unchanged," Duc said. "We hope players will enjoy the changes, and we will continuously look at our data and player feedback as we make further tweaks and improvements."
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Olivia Richman
Olivia Richman
Editor | Twitter @y05h1eggz
Olivia Richman is a seasoned esports writer and editor who enjoys creating unique content about Smash, Apex Legends, Halo, Rainbow Six Extraction, Call of Duty, and basically every other game! Olivia enjoys the Pokemon TCG, Kirby, and being a persuasive thief in Fallout and Outer Worlds.