EnMatch: Matchmaking for Better Player Engagement via Neural Combinatorial Optimization

AAAI 2024(2024)

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Matchmaking is a core task in e-sports and online games, as it contributes to player engagement and further influences the game's lifecycle. Previous methods focus on creating fair games at all times. They divide players into different tiers based on skill levels and only select players from the same tier for each game. Though this strategy can ensure fair matchmaking, it is not always good for player engagement. In this paper, we propose a novel Engagement-oriented Matchmaking (EnMatch) framework to ensure fair games and simultaneously enhance player engagement. Two main issues need to be addressed. First, it is unclear how to measure the impact of different team compositions and confrontations on player engagement during the game considering the variety of player characteristics. Second, such a detailed consideration on every single player during matchmaking will result in an NP-hard combinatorial optimization problem with non-linear objectives. In light of these challenges, we turn to real-world data analysis to reveal engagement-related factors. The resulting insights guide the development of engagement modeling, enabling the estimation of quantified engagement before a match is completed. To handle the combinatorial optimization problem, we formulate the problem into a reinforcement learning framework, in which a neural combinatorial optimization problem is built and solved. The performance of EnMatch is finally demonstrated through the comparison with other state-of-the-art methods based on several real-world datasets and online deployments on two games.
DMKM: Applications,CSO: Applications,SO: Applications
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