Ok this is a hot topic and I’m in multiple threads discussing it. But here’s my take, and it’s meant to raise points and discuss the situation.
The community who kept aoe2 going only played via ranked lobbies - no auto matchmaking.
Huge thank you to all those players and community organisers
They got to pick their games exactly how they wanted (Arabia only/ arena clowns/ nomad/ Fatslob!)
Because the community did such a good job of keeping itself alive, it ended up getting more attention from YT, Twitch and ofc MS.
MS releases aoe2:DE and now includes an auto matchmaking system for their ranked ladders… and crucially no ranked lobbies.
It’s important to note that as a community grows things do change. Part of that growth and release of DE is the introduction of a ranked auto matchmaking system. Allowing an easy way for people to just play an online game, new players especially who don’t have a strong map preference. For the newer incoming player base, this is just how the game is and auto matching against people is an awesome feature. I think (but do not know) that most of the people who only want to play one map are going to be from the older community who got very niche. Clearly this is not keeping them happy, hence all the ALT F4 problems etc.
Would adding in a ‘ranked lobby’ help people who want to play on one particular map? Just like on Voobly?
Personally I love just being able to auto match, and I really want it to stay. But it is a new feature, a sign of growth. I don’t know that there is a solution to combine having an auto matchmaking system and allowing players to 100% decide what map/settings they want.
Would it be better to have both, an auto matchmaking system with map pool and a ranked lobby system where you get to pick your map and settings.
For anyone interested in my history I played aoe1 + 2 as they came out as a kid and I sucked, and never played online. HD came out I played a bit, but mostly as a nostalgia hit. I never played on Voobly and do not consider myself an old guard player. But DE came out, I watched YT for about 5months before buying the game, decided to put effort into not only the game but also the community side of things: forums, discord, yt etc. And I am still gutted they killed the DM community #SaveDM
EDIT: I forgot to mention that it is good to respect both the community who kept this game going and the newer community who are the growth of the game. If someone is new or ‘casual’ their opinion still counts. The more the community grows the more serious players they’ll be, but also the more new and casual players.