Dota 2 received a big matchmaking update yesterday, requiring players to register a phone number if they want to continue playing ranked games and finally, reintroducing the much-requested solo queue.
You’ll have until the 4th May to link your account with a unique phone number before these changes come into effect, but after that, it’ll be set in stone.
“Online services that provide phone numbers are not allowed,” said Valve.
So what’s the thinking here? Well, Valve hopes it’ll address one of Dota 2’s bigger problems: players using multiple accounts to abuse the game’s matchmaking setup.
In particular, this will make ‘smurfing’ a little trickier (higher-level players creating secondary accounts to play at a lower skill rating). Valve doesn’t like this happening for a number of reasons, including the buying and selling of boosted accounts, but more importantly, it’s lead to a worse playing experience for those in the lower brackets.
The developer has already trialled a similar idea with Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, allowing player to sign up to an optional Prime Matchmaking system. This requires players to reach a certain rank in-game and register a unique phone number, at which point they’ll be more likely to be matched with other Prime accounts.
With Dota 2, however, this won’t be an optional service.
Alongside these changes, a large number of bot accounts have been permanently banned and interestingly, ranked matchmaking will no longer be available in the South Africa, India, and Dubai regions.
“While there are some players that used these servers for Ranked,” said Valve. “The low populations made them prime targets for various Ranked Matchmaking abuses. For the time being, players in these regions will need to join Ranked Matchmaking queues in one of the other nearby supported servers.”
Should those populations reach a certain threshold, Valve insists these regions will be given access to ranked play again.
Dota 2 players have also been delighted to see solo queueing return to the game, with a matchmaking setup that now means solo queue players will only be placed in games with other solo queue players. That might sound like an obvious feature, but it’s one that’s been lacking from both Dota 2 and League of Legends for years now.
Quick note: I don’t understand the ‘0891 50 50 50’ strapline we’ve gone with here, but I’m told it’s something to do with the 90s. I imagine it’s a sex thing. Eurogamer’s Wesley Yin-Poole was very keen that we include it.