First, I should make one thing clear: I have nothing against smurfs. People should be allowed to play the game in a way they enjoy. If skilled players want to play with their less-skilled friends (in ranked mode) or if they want to mess around, I think they should be allowed to. I think one of the challenges of smurfing is that it's very difficult to stop people from playing the way they want without discouraging play in general (something we absolutely do not want or need in HotS).
The simple truth is that people make smurfs to enjoy the game and I don't think our goal should be to reduce enjoyment of people playing the game.
So what I do think we should do is make playing on their mains more attractive/enjoyable/rewarding
In other words, instead of punishing people for playing their smurf accounts, reward them on the main accounts more.
So can we please put our heads together to try and figure out a way to stop smurfing? Aside from the first few weeks of a new season, it feels like smurfing is simply rampant. And therein is likely a clue.
When people are playing on their mains, smurfing is less of an issue. The reason it only lasts a few weeks at the beginning of a season? People hit the 50 Win mark and start making/playing on smurf accounts. That's interesting to me because it shows if you give people a reason to play on their mains (in this case, eligibility for season end rewards), they will play on their mains for at least a while.
So can we brainstorm motivations to get people playing on their mains more?
In general, i think blizzard needs to promise (and deliver!) better season-end rewards the more games won. Don't stop at 50 wins. Sure, 50 wins can be the minimum required to be eligible for season-end rewards, but don't cap the number required. Give different milestones — for 100 wins, 150 wins, 200 wins… all the way up to 1000 wins. I don't know if giving gold will be enough. So here are some other suggestions:
Mounts. An obvious choice. But just give one color of one mount for hitting 50 wins. Or two if you finish diamond or above. I never understood giving all the skin colors of season-end mounts for free. Instead, why not give people an option to pick their favorite color — and if they hit higher win totals, they receive options to pick 2nd and 3rd colorings? For example, people who hit 50 wins for a season get one pick of a mount. People who hit 100 wins get 2 picks, and so on. People who get diamond and above get a larger option to pick from (or twice as many options). This will give people a reason to play on their mains — so if the choice is stomping noobs on a smurf compared with making valuable progress on their mains, they're more likely to sign in on their mains.
Access to Old Mounts. Something else that I've seen suggested before– if our HotS design team doesn't have the bandwidth to make new mounts, can they just recolor old mounts and/or make old mounts available? I'm sure a lot of players have missed seasons and/or mounts from the past.
Keep Track of MVPs. Start keeping track of end of game rewards, like MVP. Keep a running tally, so people know where they stand. At season's end, reward people for having the most MVPs — it could be broken down by division. And you could reward the top 10 or 50 or whatever in each division. For example, there would be some visual indication for having the 3rd most MVPs in Platinum the prior season, and the person who had the most MVPs in Diamond would have a different indicator or profile picture. This would encourage people to play more games on their main.
Other end of game reward stats Depending on how popular tracking MVP is, also keep track of other end of game stats (for each division and each category). Personally, I tank a lot and probably get "Guardian" in over half my games. Give me a reward for that — let me know if I'm in the top 10 in my division in getting this reward. Perhaps I'm close to being top 5? That would motivate me to play more tanks in SL games.
alright, I'm beginning to just spitball, so I'm hoping others have suggestions and that someone from Blizzard takes note before next season. It would be great to having a positive implementation/motivation that indirectly led to making smurfing less attractive than simply playing on your main.
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