First I would like to explain the current situation Warcraft III (Mostly Reign of Chaos but also, as later posted in the forum, The Frozen Throne,) is experiencing as well, and then propose a solution to this problem.
As it is on Warcraft III ROC on the Azeroth (USEAST) server (and most others), the ladder system is in turmoil. Every day, nearly every game you enter, there is one or more people that leave. The reason? Because the way the ladder system is set up. The way the ladder system is set up, is so that the only way to find opponents is based off of the W/L/R (Win/Loss Ratio, or %), so if you have 51%, you can only find other players with a 51+% W/L/R, which seems fine, but has been abused. Because of this, the only way many of these players can find games, is to abuse their stats. As of right now, my current stats are 228-215 and level 23. This is a 51.43% W/L/R, and it takes me anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour or more to find a single game, which will end up ending quickly due to the fact that there are so many players that leave the game to get their W/L/R down so they themselves can find games, and will inevidably fall into the same dillemna.
This is a problem. Yes, the game is nearly dead, and maybe that is the reason for slower times. But that's not the main reason. As it says in the FAQ for ladder:
"With the release of Patch 1.15, Blizzard has implemented a new system of matching players together in games of Warcraft III. The previous method relied strictly upon a player or team's level when attempting to match players together, and players would only be matched against other players who were up to 6 levels higher or lower. This system usually provided players with games against players of similar skill, but the system was much less reliable when matching low-level players together into games. The skill of players with low-level accounts can vary radically, from a player who has just begun playing multiplayer games of Warcraft III to a highly experienced player who has played hundreds of games but has just created a new account. Novice players would all too often find themselves in unfair matches against very skilled opponents. In an attempt to better match players of similar skill together into games, Battle.net's matchmaking system no longer uses a player's level as the only determining factor when creating games."
In summary, this states that ladder is no longer set up on the level system which they displayed good reasons why, for when the game was active. As of now, though, the game has 3332 users on Warcraft III (mostly playing custom games). This is extreamly unactive compaired to when the game was released onto battle.net in 2001, or somewhere around 2003 when this patch was released. And since then, the stability of the ladder system has obviously worn down as the number of players either moved to The Frozen Throne, or onto other games such as World of Warcraft (released 2004) and Starcraft II (released 2010). So I must ask a question, Why has the system itself not evolved to meet the number of players?
This is a question one must ask themselves when looking at the current situation of any game. In order to keep a game active, and "healthy", the game must evolve with its players. If this doesn't happen, it will end up suffering the fate many other games, including what Warcraft III ROC has, the decline in sales, and activity on the game itself.
Now to adress what you are probably thinking:
Why not switch to TFT? Because, I dislike how the ladder system is played there, simple enough
Why not switch to another game? Because I like warcraft III...? And I tried WoW, definately not impressed.
Why do you care what the ladder system is like? Let me ask you a question...Have you ever got online to try to play a game before you headed to work.. in 5 hours, and it took 4 hours to find A SINGLE game? Yeah, that's why.
Why should Blizzard care about, as you said, a "dying game"? We paid for a game that we can play online. The customer should get what they paid for, no? And it's still being sold in stores, so they definately are not attracting any great attention to blizzard by hosting a game that they won't even update.
Well then, how do you fix this?
This is what this whole thing is about. Two simple solutions.
Solution 1: Have periodic ladder resets. The last ladder reset somewhere near April 2011. May not seem that long, but when nobody can find a game because they're "too high of a level" or "too good of a %" you know something is wrong. So to fix this, one solution would be to have ladder resets more often, at least every 6 months, or sooner.
Solution 2: Remove the current way the ladder system is set up, regarding based on percentage, or at least modify it. If you want to remove the current way it is set up, a simple solution to that would be a)make it either completely random (Because there are a very small percentage of new players out there, it would be fair either way) or b) Make it based off of levels again. Just make it + or - 15 levels or so. This would solve the current ladder crisis in an instant. People would be able to find games at any time, and easily.
Solution 2b: To modify it, all you would need to do would make it so the percentage does not matter, or if it does, make it more realistic. If your 51%, that does not by any means, mean you're a pro who can only go against other 51%+. Make it a range of somewhere near +/- 30% difference or so. This would include majority of the players, the game would become more available to play, and because of this there will be more players again.
And what would be even better, is if you combined the 2 solutions.
Please everyone, hear me out about this. These are SIMPLE solutions to gain the loyalty of RoC players back, and all it requires is a tiny bit of interest in restoring that.