I posted this in the matchmaking feedback thread but am moving it here at the request of the mods.
I think there are three main things 343 could do with Infinite if they want to avoid the ‘small market, even smaller/dead population’ effect Halo 5 currently suffers.
1. Server selection at launch - essentially region lock that doesn’t stop you playing with your overseas friends if you party up with them, but otherwise you only play on local servers. This would have a massive impact if maintained from launch and has been extremely successful in other online games in my region (Heroes, League, Battlerite etc) and is pretty much the standard in the industry it seems.
2. Regional playlist management and consolidated playlists for smaller markets - the ability to consolidate playlists in smaller regions to a number of core playlists that make sense for the size of the population pool - so it’s not confusing which playlist will be an infinite queue or not, so you can jump into Halo with confidence you’ll find a game.
3. A matchmaker that can balance search parameters (skill boundaries when searching) based on how many people are searching. The same balancing Josh already does but automated so it can adjust to day/night and even weekday/weekend player cycles, and also able to be tailored per region to avoid the current ‘one size fits all’ approach.
The goal of the features being to give often overlooked regional players confidence that they can search and find a good game with the three prongs of experience quality - connection, skill and search time. I know it’s a balance and nothing is perfect but two of these features have proven effectiveness. League turned off Twisted Treeline (3v3 mode) hopper in AU because they highly valued a larger hopper population to create better skill matches. Heroes and Battlerite implemented server selection from launch and they are both extremely playable games in my region and are a joy to play because there’s guaranteed low ping!
Why the current search parameters could be better
With the current system players can be snapped up into games on other servers far too quickly, leaving no one to even play on the local server even when the population could support the games. Not to mention if you have the three options for your own experience (balanced focussed and expanded), all the people choosing expanded (and getting snapped up by foreign games) make Focussed an almost worthless option. If they search and find no games of course they’re going to choose expanded and it just leads to a grand Exodus of local games essentially. Balanced isn’t really a choice either because it’s a hard ping boundary and needs to be set so high it’s basically a binary choice, local or not. ‘Not’ being an undesirable connection quality experience.
Note this is considering options for Infinite, a region lock wouldn’t work in Halo 5 at this stage as there’s not enough population left to even support it, though I maintain it would have worked in Halo 5 too if it had worked from launch until now.
Benefits to US Players
Less laggy/skippy players in your games, glitching around. They’ll all be in their own region! The more hops a connection has to make (i.e crossing the Pacific,) the more likely there are to be lost packets resulting in bounces and strangeness and inconsistency. Not to mention alot of these smaller markets tend to have poor network infrastructure as a generalisation (Mexico, Australia etc).
You can have as many playlists as you want.
The dynamic matchmaker feature would benefit search times and skill matching for day night cycles and weekend cylces just as well for a high pop location such as the US, this would potentially be a feature granting the greatest benefit to US players.