One of the great injustices in Valorant is losing a game, and therefore MMR, because a player on your team decided to go AFK. But, a Valorant dev has explained the challenges of making a system that punishes AFKers without penalizing compliant players.
Nothing sucks more than having a teammate going AFK in Valorant. While you get access to a shiny free ult orb at the start of every round, and free armor on pistol rounds, it doesn’t really make up for the fact there’s one less angle you’re able to cover.
It’s a problem Riot is keen on solving. As listed in their Competitive Play Area’s ‘letter from the devs‘, “the issue with AFKers/INTers” and “reworking in game penalties for disruptive behavior” are two of the team’s biggest priorities heading into the new year.
One Redditor came up with the idea of adopting a DOTA-style system, where, five minutes after a teammate disconnects, players are able to leave without fear of being punished. But one Riot dev has explained why the issue is much more complicated than you might think.
Riot dev on handling Valorant AFKers
Insights & Strategy dev Aeneia explained how a DOTA-style system could be potentially exploited by players with premade teammates.
“We’ve seen lots of different ways that players take advantage of this specific solution. For example: players make smurfs with the express purpose of being the account where it’s “safe” to dodge,” she said.
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“They pair up with their friends, and whoever is on the smurf gets the responsibility of AFKing whenever the game starts to look rough.”
Aeneia claims these instances of abuse happen “more than you think,” adding that this system could also lead to more players getting bullied.
She added: “[Players may] start to bully the weakest link (or the child, or the girl, or the person who instalocked their main…whoever seems like the best target). They make the game SO miserable for that player that they leave. Loss averted. No penalty. It honestly happens. Some people can be really vicious when it comes to winning.”
“Our responsibility to players is not only correcting the problem, but minimizing unintended consequences. I could live with the first scenario playing out. But that second one is outright unacceptable to me.”
Aeineia ‘promised’ a system was on its way, but was unable to specify what form it would take.
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“Maybe there is a world where we implement this specific version of that solve. But it will only be after we’ve thought through every alternative we can, and we’ve decided that this is the best route to take,” she said.
It looks like we’re going to be seeing a major restructuring of the AFK punishment system in the new year.