Valve has released a new blog post detailing some big changes that have arrived for DOTA 2's multiplayer matchmaking system, all aimed at improving player experience. The game received an update containing the changes yesterday, which includes a variety of features the community has been requesting for some time.
The biggest addition is "Phone Linking", where the game will now prevent accounts without a registered phone number from participating in Ranked matches, and phone numbers generated via online services will not work. This drastic decision is in response to the game's widespread smurfing issue. For those unfamiliar with the term, it describes players of higher skill levels who create new accounts to play against newer, lower skilled players.
The system is of a similar design to Prime Account Matchmaking featured in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, another game by Valve. But, it's an optional feature that players may use to improve their matchmaking quality, unlike DOTA 2's mandatory implementation.
The developer describes what they are trying to accomplish with the change on its blog, stating:
Players using multiple accounts create a negative matchmaking experience at all skill brackets, so our goal is to add just enough friction to this process that the number of players doing this will be noticeably reduced. Having more players using their primary accounts will have a positive effect on both Ranked and Unranked Matchmaking.
DOTA 2 players have until May 4 to perform the linking procedure for continued Ranked play. Otherwise, they will be restricted to Unranked, Co-op, and custom matches.
In addition to banning a large number of bot accounts, the developer has also brought back the highly popular Solo Queue with the update, where only individual players can matchmake in, and not parties.
Those who are interested can read all changes on the developer blog, which includes matchmaking behavior and party changes, as well as adjustments to some regions' server availability.