Letter to Insomniac Games:
Based on the current design of R2, the only way to earn EXP in competitive is by using the PLAY button (the ranked matches). But after experimenting with this for quite some time since launch, I regret to inform you that this may be the biggest design flaw in R2. No, this isn't just a personal gripe; this is a serious long-term issue that will limit community growth.
Please allow me to explain:
1) 60-players and EXP were the best addition to R2. The 60-player upgrade was a very nice addition to the console gaming landscape (PC games have had it for a while). However, the addition of the EXP system is perhaps the greatest addition to R2. In the end, "60-players + EXP" is a winning formula, no matter how you look at it, and I do hope R2 becomes a big hit for you.
However, the current version of R2 does not offer the 60p+EXP experience.
2) The "Play" option in Competitive Mode is not perfect. Well, I actually think that it is seriously flawed, and I know several others on the R2 forum agree. The biggest problem is that Ranked games always end up being only 5v5, 7v7 or 15v15 AT BEST. In fact, I can only recall one game where the total player count was above 20, and in most cases, I'm stuck playing with 13 or so people in the whole game (yes, that's an odd number).
To be blunt, if you want to earn EXP, you're stuck playing a CoD4/Halo3/GeoW2 clone. And while there is nothing wrong with that, this is not enough to differentiate the game from its competition. Frankly, I am already having enough difficulty convincing my friends to play this game with me, and the PLAY button might become the nail in the coffin (I am not telling them about this issue, of course).
I can try to guess why the PLAY button was implemented: you wanted to make sure that people didn't exploit the EXP system in competitive mode, and that each game is balanced. But the outcome speaks for itself; the competitive mode itself is broken right now. You can't EVER play 60-player matches, and the balancing is WORSE than in custom matches.
3) The Custom games offer the best gameplay experience. And this is another example of user/self-regulation working its magic. Users will always go and look for a well-populated game, and ensure that each team remains balanced in numbers. You never see a situation where one team outnumbers the other by 4-5 people. However, this happens all too often with the PLAY button. Again, the PLAY button defeats its own purpose of trying to be fair and balanced.
My suggestion to you is:
A) Allow custom games to earn EXP. Whatever the reason behind limiting EXP to the PLAY mode, the algorithm behind the matchmaking system is NOT WORKING. The magic of R2 was supposed to be the near laggless 60-player matches, but you simply cannot experience that unless you are willing to forego your EXP altogether and join a custom game.
B) Fix the PLAY button. Either make it so that people are put into existing ranked games, or upgrade your matchmaking algorithm itself. I really do not have a preference in how you do it. But make sure that people can consistently get into 60-player matches. I've used the play button over 30 times in the past week, and have never even gotten close to a 60-player match, let alone a 40-player match. Again, most end up being 10-15 player matches.
Remember, the ultimate goal is the make R2 what it was always intended to be: a 60-player slugfest where you can earn EXP for everything good you do. It really is a winning formula, but as it is right now, the game does not offer this at all.
Personally, I think solution A makes the most sense and would be easier to implement. So I would highly recommend changing your policy as soon as possible and allow those people in custom games to earn EXP. Because, let's face it: even if there is a way to exploit the EXP system, there's no point in breaking the game itself in order to prevent it.
Thank you for reading, and I really hope this gets looked into.