Riot developers shared some insights on how they balance all the Valorant characters using player feedback and internal data.
Since the Valorant game beta, we’ve seen some players complain that certain agents are too OP or too weak to play with. One of the best examples is Cypher who had some incredible camera spots that helped players dominate rounds. Even though these were quickly fixed, it was obvious that it’s impossible to predict each Valorant character’s weak spots that can be abused by players.
In the «Developer Messages» series, the Valorant development team shared some insights on how they use internal data to identify which agents are in desperate need of tweaking.
How Riot developers know when to nerf Valorant agents?
Using the example of Sage, Coleman Palm Brian Chang from the Insights team released a summary of how they identify which Valorant characters need nerfing. The balancing is based mostly on each individual character’s win-rate, but the data isn’t accurate when you match up agents. This means that if players pick the same agent and one of them wins most of the rounds in a game, the win-rate formula will be inaccurate.
To resolve this problem, Valorant game developers make assumptions based on each agent’s win-rate without mirror match-ups as described above. Thus, if one of the teams plays with Phoenix Valorant agent and the other one doesn’t, it’s easier to tell if he’s overpowered or not.
These tests showed that teams playing with Sage are more likely to win, and that’s why the Valorant devs decided to nerf her in Patch 1.07 with an incredible ten nerfs in total. As a result, a recent survey revealed that 40% of players believe that Sage is too weak, and this is the lowest number for any Valorant agent in the game.
How Valorant devs identify how to nerf an agent?
Valorant game devs shared their list of four key metrics that they use when nerfing an agent. Identifying that an agent needs nerfing is one thing, but choosing how to nerf them is another. The devs listed these four metrics for deciding how to go about nerfing agents:
- Direct feedback from players about why they believe Sage is strong, both through surveys and direct conversations.
- Breakdown of agent strength by side (to understand how pronounced Sage’s strengths are on attack/defense)
- Breakdown of agent strength/presence by rank (to understand if there are discrepancies across skill brackets)
- Ability-specific data (average amount of healing that Sage does in a round, round win-rate when Sage uses her ultimate compared to when other agents use their ultimates, etc.)
With the release of Patch 1.11, Sage’s win-rate has dropped by 2.4% to 52.2%, which means she is in a «relatively healthy state» according to the developers.
What do you guys think? Which agent needs to be nerfed? Let us know in the comments below!