Hello Survivors,

Welcome back to another dev update from the PUBG console team. We’ve gathered a few high-priority topics that have been floating around the community, and today we’ll be providing an update in these areas.

Ranked Mode

We introduced Ranked Mode in the 7.2 patch and we’ve been overwhelmed by the reception and the support. But there’s always room for improvement. The most common suggestions since launching Ranked are:

  • The addition of solo mode
  • Including team placement into the ranked algorithm

Today Ranked is based on Squad Mode, which is the most popular team size in PUBG. The number of players in Squad mode is greater than the number of players in either Duos or Solos. But we hear your feedback, and we’re getting tons of requests to open Solo and Duo queues in Ranked. However, I’m afraid we won’t be able to open new Ranked queues – at least for Season 7. Here’s why.

As many of you know, PUBG supports many queues. The game is first split into TPP and FPP, and each of those modes support Solo, Duo, and Squad queues. (That’s already six queues!) This is split even further when there’s map selection. And let’s not forget that we have custom matches and Team Deathmatch too. Adding more queues on top of this is already crazy business, but with Ranked, we added FPP Ranked Squads and TPP Ranked Squads.

If we go ahead and add even more Ranked queues, Public Matches will most likely end up having worse matchmaking conditions such as longer wait times and disproportionate amounts of bots. What’s important for the dev team right now is to continue monitoring matchmaking data to see if we can open new queues without hurting existing queues – or even close down less-popular queues to make other queues healthier. (More on this below)

Also, opening modes mid-season can cause issues with progression. Players playing on new queues will have less time to accrue RP. We could of course just open up new queues and pour RP from all the queues into one big pool – but would this be fair? For example, getting into the top 10 in Solos and in Squads can be totally different experiences, and if we count in leaderboards, it might not be fair to say that one player is better than another when they’ve been playing a different mix of queues.

Opening more Ranked queues is a very active topic of discussion within the dev team. If we do open more queues, it’ll be for Season 8 (at the earliest), but again, this is something we need to be really careful about doing.

Anti-Cheat

First, radar hacks. Radar hacks have been a huge thorn in the side for us for a looooong time, and with Ranked, combating cheaters became even more important. We’re happy to announce that with Update 7.3 coming in June 2020, we’ll be introducing packet encryption. We would have liked to delve into the technical details on how our packet encryption works and explain why this was such a long time coming, but we thought it’d be best to not give out information that baddies could use against us. Anyways, no guarantees until we’re live with the feature, but we’re expecting to see drastic reductions in radar hack usage. See ya later, cheaters. (Fingers crossed)

Second, SMS authentication. Many of you have been asking why we don’t have SMS authentication on consoles. As we all know, cheating is just so much harder to do on console devices than on PCs. With this in mind, we questioned ourselves whether it would be worth it to trouble our players with inputting phone numbers with a controller. While we do expect much of the cheating to be resolved through the aforementioned packet encryption, we want to be better prepared for what might come, so we’ve begun looking into bringing SMS authentication to consoles. However, it looks as though the road ahead of us is longer than we thought, as we found that there are regulations we need to be mindful of when collecting private information on consoles. SMS authentication, if brought to consoles, may end up being implemented in a different way than it is on PC, but we’ll let you know if there are any significant updates in this area.

Third, bans. Up until now, we had a ban process where reports from our players and community managers would be sent to a team that would review these reports thoroughly and proceed with the bans. While our intention is for automated systems to catch 99% of cheaters, some offenders will always slip through the cracks. Naturally, it feels like these players continue to avoid detection and leads to a pretty poor experience. To combat this, Community Managers around the world now have the ability to ban highly visible offenders using local Community Managed systems. In NA and EMEA for example, moderators are building out a system in Discord that will allow players to identify, report, and ultimately ban the worst offenders.

Stability

Remember when we told you in our Console Dev Focus 2020 letter that the recent content additions were causing an increase in memory use, which in turn caused an increase in crashes? Well, our engineers have since been hard at work, sifting through every nook and cranny in our game to grab every bit of free memory we could. And now, we’re thrilled to announce that our crash rate is sitting at half of where it was with Update 6.3. Not only that, but I’m happy to say that the current crash rates we’re seeing are the lowest they have been since we released PUBG on consoles.

That doesn’t mean we’re done here though. Not only are some of you still experiencing crashes now and then, we want to be at a more comfortable position in terms of free memory considering all the content coming further down the road. Our engineers will toil on, and you’ll hear from us when we have another victory to share with you.

Bots and Matchmaking

As explained briefly in the Update 7.1 patch notes, the number of bots that populate lobbies depends on your MMR tier, with higher tiers having less bots. We have already consolidated the number of these tiers in a way that more players would be funneled into the tiers with less bots.

Our data is showing that this change has helped with cases where players were running into sessions with just too many bots. However, some of you in certain queues in certain regions at certain times are having difficulty finding matches and are being put into these bot-filled sessions. Currently, the matchmaking system waits 5 minutes before filling unfilled slots with bots. We could make that wait time longer to get more human players in for each session, or we could just remove the limit altogether. But this comes back to the problem we were dealing with before bots were implemented: In less healthier queues on certain regions, this will result in ridiculous waiting times.

We also saw some suggestions to have the option to move to the NA server instead of facing many bots, but we believe this is not a fair solution, as sending non-NA players to NA server would negatively impact network conditions for NA players.

At this point, the best solution just might be to funnel players into less queues. We’ll be reviewing the health of the queues across all regions and may begin exploring the idea of closing some down. Personally speaking, this is far from the happiest news for me too, as I play on a variety of queues from time to time.

But as mentioned above, we support many queues in PUBG – too many. We have steadily been adding more queues over the years and now support the most amount of queues in any Battle Royale game – a genre that sometimes requires over 100 players per match. Reducing the number of queues might be a bullet we have to bite to not only prevent matches where players are playing against too many bots (this was not our intention in the first place), but to also future proof the game and ensure a healthier matchmaking experience overall, for everyone.

Nothing has been decided yet regarding closing down queues, but we know how important this is for everyone and we’ll do our best to deliver more news on this as soon as we can.

Thanks for taking the time to read this update, and we look forward to hearing your thoughts on the details we shared in this letter.

Thanks,

Joon H. Choi, Console Lead Project Manager

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