I hate to be that guy that says "back when I was a kid" but I'm going to be that guy. And actually I suppose I wasn't really a kid, because when I was a kid we didn't have servers...at least servers dedicated to playing video games. So, when I say "back when I was a kid" I really mean just a few years ago when I played PC games a lot more and console games a lot less.

I'm not the fastest Kart on Rainbow Road but I have a basic understanding of multiplayer games, network services, and matchmaking. I was part of the crowd who wanted to boycott Call of Duty over that whole dedicated server feature being removed from the game (although I don't remember which game it was and I certainly never followed through with it).

But if there is one feature (most) multiplayer games on PC do far better than (most) console games, it's letting me decide who, what and where I will be battling it out in my multiplayer match up. And when I can't, because the game doesn't let me...because the game is smarter than me and the game wants to pick an "optimized" match up, I tend to get a little contemptuous. Back in May I addressed this issue in a blog titled, "Match (Not) Made In Heaven. Why Is Matchmaking Still Flawed" - but in the months since then, I'm finding I still think about the issue a lot. Maybe it's the types of games I'm playing or maybe that I'm playing more consoles games now. I can't say for sure. All I know is this is something I notice a lot more.

I think I know why most console games automatically resolve matchmaking for us but I suppose I might not really know why. I'd like to think it's to automatically provide us the absolute best gaming experience we can possibly imagine, but something tells me it's more about time (easier to develop a multiplayer game that operates in a given environment instead of a variety of different environments); control (kind of hard to have ranked games on private dedicated servers); and possibly even money. Money always rears its ugly head in all issues in some way.

Look, I'm not completely against the way multiplayer servers operate on video game consoles. I've definitely grown accustomed to it over the years. Almost spoiled even. All I have to do is click a button to join a match and let the minions do the rest of the work. Heck, sometimes I even have time to run to the bathroom or grab a frosty beverage.

But if I'm being honest, there are times when I just wish I could see what I'm getting into...join a map I want to play...see some of the uh...as Maxwell the little pig from GEICO would say...the pertinents. I would just like to see the some of the server details.

Some consoles games are better than others with presenting this info. Some games show it to you in the lobby before the round starts...unless you join in the middle of round. Then you usually don't get to see any of it.


If you look at any game I've played on the PC for any length of time you would no doubt find one or two maps I spend most of my time on. I don't know what it is, but maps that I become familiar with, I can play over and over and over...and never get bored with it. Now I have favorite maps on my console games, but I have to hope it comes up in the rotation while I'm playing. Some console games get clever and at least let you vote on what's next, so I applaud that effort. I just wish there was a way to join maps I want to play or avoid maps I don't want to play. That's definitely a First World Problem gamers face.

Time / Score

Nobody likes joining a game and being put on a team that is losing badly. Or worse, losing badly and no time left for you to help turn it around. My thoughts on this is...there are too many good games out there to get frustrated joining a game that is nearly over or you have no reasonable chance of winning. Now, if I could see that BEFORE I joined...


Not only does the amount of players, team balance and who is actually playing matter, it's conceivable you might also take into consideration their rank or stature. Show the player and their level? Sure, why not. It's not just a balance issue - teams can be balanced - I mean, two vs. two is balanced...but if I can play 15 vs. 15, I'd much rather play that.

I suppose when I think about it, I'd just like to load up some Halo, Call of Duty or Battlefield...or heck maybe even Titanfall, see a server browser that has a list of different servers, the map currently being played, how many people (and who) is playing it and how much time they have left. If I like what I see I can join it. I realize this might not be the "optimized" experience, but I'll take my chances.

Okay...I'm done whining now.

As always...I'd love to hear your thoughts on servers, dedicated servers, multiplayer options...whether you care or not...and why most console video games want to automatically assign us to a multiplayer matchup instead of letting us do it on our own.