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Can This New Overwatch Feature Fix One Of Its Biggest Problems?

In his latest Developer Update video, Overwatch Director Jeff Kaplan announced the addition of a new feature designed to cut down on queue times, PC Gamer confirmed. Players from Overwatch League pros and popular Twitch streamers to Dallas Mavericks star Luka Dončić have all publicly noted the game's long waiting periods, especially when queuing for the damage role.

Kaplan explained that an update to the base Overwatch game at a yet-to-be-determined date will introduce what are called "priority passes." A player queuing for what Kaplan has designated an "impacted" role — i.e., a role for which a larger number of players are queueing relative to others — can use a priority pass to speed up the time it takes them to find a match. Currently, damage is the only such impacted role, but the system nonetheless leaves open the possibility of applying to tank and support on the off chance those end up in higher demand.

To acquire priority passes, players will have to join a new type of queue called the "flex queue." When a match is found, players who have chosen this option will fill whatever role is most needed at the time. For example, if there are less players queueing for support than damage, a player in this flex queue will ultimately end up joining a match as support. This cuts down on wait times for everyone, since the algorithm that picks teams can draw from a larger pool in order to fill less popular positions.

While a player will be rewarded with priority passes simply for playing a match found through the flex queue, winning that match will award an even higher number of priority passes. That way an incentive remains to perform at a competitive level on what is likely to be an off role. Currently, players can bank up to 40 priority passes for later, though Kaplan explained that the number may change prior to its implementation.

Just as with past updates, the priority pass system will start solely as a feature on the Public Test Realm in order to eliminate any potential bugs, after which it will added to the game's main servers.

Like an ouroboros in reverse, players once put off from playing the damage role due to long wait times can now use priority passes to skirt the issue, while damage-focused players will ultimately have to wait less thanks to those working to obtain priority passes through the flex queue system. In the past, top Overwatch players have quit due to a lack of passion for the game. While this fix can't account for that in its entirety, it can, in theory, still solve queue time-related issues for much of the current player base.