How Ranks can Jeopardize a Halo Game
In MCC we noticed a massive population drop due to the game being broken and unplayable for most of the population. This caused 343 to have a slight change of plans for their game. Since the population was expected to be near 100,000 but only managed to stay consistent at around 30,000, 343 had to design a playlist that would not diversify the population too much in order to keep matchmaking working as fast as possible. This meant that 343 could not add a wide variety of playlists to suit every Halo fan like everyone wanted. Since 343 decided to not add their population count to the game, fans really didn't notice the very small population, but if you were to check the top games on Xbox every month you would see the small size.
Off launch, there were only ranks for one playlist, that being H2A. 343 promised us ranks on several more playlists but we didn’t get any for several months. I believe this is because 343 was debating on whether they were willing to jeopardize the population of their game even further. The reason I say this is because when you add competitive ranks to a playlist, you wind up diversifying it a lot. Since everyone will eventually be a different rank from one another due to skill, people will wind up playing a cycle of only a select few players in that playlist. If you're a rank 1 then you will only play against players that are rank 1 to 10. If you are a rank 50 (the highest), you will only play against other players who are rank 50 or are in the mid to late 40s. This allows the skilled players to always have competition in each game and it allows the less skilled players to play with others in the same skill level in the hopes that they will develop. This ranking system has always worked great in Halo until now.
Since MCC added more ranks when the population was already low, it wound up decreasing the lifetime of several playlists. For example, look at the HCS playlist: it was designed to be the main playlist for the competitive player and it was for a few months, but once they added ranks, it diversified to the point where the less skilled players simply could not find a match. Before ranks, the HCS population was usually in the hundreds. When ranks dropped, it forced the good players to only match to good players and the less talented players would only match the less talented players. Anyone under a rank 10 would either have to wait several minutes for a match or have to deal with de-rankers in almost every game. This caused many players to quit playing HCS and instead play playlists that didn't have ranks or had a larger population of players.
Personally, I believe that 343 should have never added ranks to HCS or any playlist with a smaller population if they wanted to keep the playlist alive until at least Halo 5. I don’t think the community would have been mad at 343, especially if they were to have just told the truth to the community rather than having us play a waiting game for several months. The fact is that the ranking system we as Halo fans enjoy only works with a Halo game that has a large enough population to satisfy both the competitive and casual fan. If your playlist population is under 1000, then these ranks simply can not work in that playlist. This is why it bothers me that 343 decided to not add a population count to every playlist, because if they did, most fans would have understood this and we would have not pushed for ranks as much as we did.
When Halo 5 comes out I honestly hope we do not have the same launch like we had in MCC, because if we do, the ranks 343 have worked on for years simply won't work and we will most likely have the same playlist problem like we do in MCC. What do you think about ranks in Halo? Do you enjoy the ranking system? Let me know in the comments section below.