Major Nelson recently explained how the reputation system works in a new Xbox 101 video that appeared on Inside Xbox. Apparently there were many questions about what the stars under your gamertag were for. When you register a new gamertag on Xbox LIVE, you start off with a three star rep. This is the default “neutral” reputation. Supposedly, as other players leave positive or negative reviews on you, your star rating will either go up or down to reflect if people like playing with you or if they tend to avoid you.
Having previously written an article on the reputation system, I decided to revisit the subject and put rep to the test myself. I created two new gamertags to test whether or not player reviews and reputation actually worked. On one name I was very polite and teamwork-oriented while on the other name, I hoarded power weapons, drove erratically in vehicles, and teabagged opponents after killing them. After thirty-five games on each name, the results were surprising.
The “good” name was 100% preferred though this was probably only one or two positive reviews as most gamers don’t bother wasting time leaving positive reviews of other players. This is actually one of the major faults with the reputation system as it claims that the positive number is an accumulation of those who either preferred you or did not leave a review. If it actually counted players who did not review you, the avoided numbers would be insanely low because how many hundreds of players does the average gamer encounter online daily? This wouldn’t be a problem if it didn’t claim to count people who did not leave any feedback. Despite this glowing percentage, I was still stuck at only three stars. My rep had not moved.
Oddly enough, the “bad” name was a whopping 90% avoided (again, this isn’t to say 90% of all players, only 90% that left a review) and 10% preferred but had worked its way up to over four stars in rating. Why did the rep rating of the gamertag that got avoided go up? This is the exact opposite result of what should have happened. It makes absolutely no sense and this would seem to indicate that the star rating is completely useless in determining the actual conduct of the gamer. Although I never used the headset on this name at all, I received several negative reviews for “trash talking” and “disruptive voice” which goes to show that many gamers do not even honestly review a player but simply pick something from the list they think they will be most harmful to their reputation.
But what of player reviews? According to the Xbox 101 video and the description of the rep system, avoiding another player will make it less likely for you to be matched up against them in the future. This also did not seem to be true as it was not uncommon to see players that I avoided (on either name) again in matchmaking during a future session or even later in the same day. This was on Halo 3 so there were tens of thousands of players online at any given time. With such a huge player pool, there really is no excuse for me to be matched again with someone I have already avoided.
Based on these findings, the Xbox LIVE reputation system is severely flawed and does not tell you anything about a player’s actual reputation in the community. It seems that your star rating simply increases proportionally with the number of people who review you whether they leave positive or negative feedback. The more feedback received, the higher the star rating. Have you ever seen a rep under three stars? Leaving feedback on another player also seems to have no effect on whether or not you will be paired up with them in matchmaking again despite claims to the contrary.
As it stands, player reviews are only good for two things. The first is trying to make someone else feel bad when they notice they have a high percentage of avoids. Many gamers who troll on LIVE take pride in this number though so ultimately it becomes pointless and a complete waste of time. The second is that it allows you, as the reviewer, to feel better when you believe someone has wronged you. This renewed attitude will be short-lived, however, when you notice you are in yet another game with a player you have previously avoided.