The fight against AFKs, the plague of Valorant

In an article published recently, the developers of Valorant announced their willingness to be more transparent about what they were working on. As a result, several more articles will be published, each dealing with a different topic that affect players' games. This series begins with AFKs.

How to fight against AFKs?

For those who don't know what an AFK is, it's a player who remains inactive during a game, or leaves it, whether voluntarily or not. The plague of many online multiplayer games, Riot Games' FPS of course couldn't escape it. That's why the game's teams quickly started working on this topic, and an article had already been published at the beginning of 2021 to keep players informed about the progress in this area. A lot of work has been done to address this, but this fight is not over and there still is a lot to do.

Their goals are simple :

  • Do not penalise a player for whom disconnections are very rare and often accidental
  • Improve the AFK detection system
  • Get clear, actionable data to measure the effectiveness of their work

In order to be more accurate in detecting those players who are harming everyone's games, behaviour detectors have been implemented, and should be developed on a large scale in the coming months. In addition, an AFK score has been created. Thus, a player who rarely disconnects, whether voluntarily or not, has a fairly high score that allows them to have light penalties for disconnecting. The most exemplary players receive a simple warning.

On the other hand, those who often leave games see their score drop drastically and have increasingly severe penalties. This can range from an XP penalty to being baned from the game. This will make many people think twice, although it's quite easy to recreate an account to avoid these penalties.

These measures apply in games where team play is crucial and where an AFK would severly harm allies. For game modes where everyone play for themselves, such as in a Deatchmatch, only XP penalties are applied.

Encouraging results

Since the beginning of the year, Riot Games teams ahve already seen some changes. The detection rate of serious AFKs in both Unrated and Competitive queues has dropped relatively since the game's release. A serious AFK is any player who is absent for at least six rounds during the game.

The fight against AFK, the scourge of Valorant - valorant afk chart -
Evolution of the AFK rate in the world since the release of the game (© Riot Games)

With this graph, we can see that the rate started to drop at the beginning of 2021, which is when the developers started working on the subject. On average, they estimate that the AFK rate has been divided by more than two over the course of the year, which is already a nice change. But we think they can still do better!

The number of AFK reports has also been impacted and is down to 17% since January 2021.

The fight against AFK, the scourge of Valorant - valorant curved afk reports -
Change in AFK reporting rate in 2021 (© Riot Games)

Here, the top curve represents the number of reports received per hour of play. The bottom one represents the percentage evolution of the reporting rate since the beginning of the year. And it's mainly the one we are interested in, since we can see a clear decrease since March 2021, just like for the evolution of the AFK rate in the world. We can therefore see that the work of the developers is not in vain and is slowly starting to pay off.

While the results are encouraging, this is only the beginning and these rates should decrease further in the coming months. In any case, we should be kept informed of the progress in this perpetual struggle.

If you have any comments or suggestions, you can contact, on Twitter, Sara Dadafshar and Brian Chang, respectively Insights producer and researcher for Valorant.