I admit it — I'm part of the problem. In almost every game of Battlefield: Bad Company 2 or Team Fortress 2 I just roll sniper and get into duels with other snipers, while everyone else actually tries to win. I know people hate that, but what are you gonna do when you have a pitiful kill/death ratio staring you in the face all the time?
I'm certainly not the first one to complain about this phenomenon. In 1UP.com’s review of MAG – a game involving teamwork on several levels — writer Tom Chick feared that MAG could become a noble failure. Chick's teammates "wanted to attack point H, which was more open and easier to snipe at from a distance. They didn't care that there were already other squads on H, and therefore it fell to us to keep pressure on G,” he wrote. “They just wanted more kills. They eventually wandered over to H anyway. And they were the highest scorers in our squad. Those guys will be the death of MAG.”
Taking KDR stats away from team and objective-based games would encourage snipers (and other players) to actually do what they’re supposed to do: defend positions and support their team by spotting enemies. To my knowledge, BC2 is the only game that even gives you assist points for spotting.
I can understand that KDR is a good metric for skill in a deathmatch scenario. In any objective-based game, however, it’s really counter to the main goal — helping your team win. And I don’t understand why developers haven’t picked up on that yet and tweaked their designs accordingly.
Most games these days give more points for completing objectives, but each player’s KDR continues to be a distraction. In a mode like Conquest in BC2, kills should be a means to an end — that end being to help your team capture bases. If the game has to award points at all, they should go to the entire team rather than individuals.
One game that heavily de-emphasized kills for scoring was Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. In fact, spy players could rarely kill mercenaries at all — their tools were geared towards disabling mercs so that the spies could complete their objectives. Mercs had a relatively easier time killing spies, but the game still hinged on protecting the objective.
OK, maybe I’m complaining about this because I can’t manage a 1:1 KDR in most games, but you don’t see people sacrificing their team for their own points in real sports do you? (Oh…wait.)