Skill-Based Matchmaking (SBMM) – The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

sbmm

With Infinity Ward pushing skill-based matchmaking (SBMM) hard in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare multiplayer, some might be wondering whether this is the future of online multiplayer. While the actual devs themselves might be the only ones who can answer that depending on the game they’re making, we here at MP1st decided to seek out what the gaming personalities think of it.

We’ve reached out to YouTubers, community members and more regarding SBMM, and below are their responses. The people we’ve contacted are respected members of the Battlefield and Call of Duty community and have a lot to say about the subject (understandably so).

Without further ado, read on.

(Note: Opinions shared have been edited for spell checking, grammar and punctuation, but aside from that, was left as is).

MP1st Staff James:

SBMM is one of those things we always hear people cry about, and while I don’t think the current system is perfect, I’ve always felt it somewhat made sense. As a player who’s always wanting to get better, I prefer the idea of being matched with people of my skill level, even if it means I’ll be losing my matches. I’m someone who prefers the challenge, versus stomping on a bunch of new players who from their perspective see it as unfair. SBMM is really there just for that, to ensure that new players are having a great time, though that is an issue in itself.

In recent years, games like Call of Duty have added SBMM, which hasn’t exactly faired well with the fans. This is completely understandable because let’s face it, COD is more of a casual, mainstream shooter, just as is Battlefield. People want them to be their go-to games and relive whatever stress that they may have. So while I like the idea of SBMM, I don’t exactly agree that it should exist everywhere, or at least a better system should be in place. Will it kill games? Well that just depends on the game. Looking at the recent Modern Warfare, it’s clear that the system is making players turn their backs on it.

battlefield 5 june 25 update

DannyonPC (YouTubeTwitter):

If SBMM would come to BF (Battlefield) it would kill off the server browser. since those don’t go hand in hand together If they wanna add SBMM, add it for ranked/try hard play, but keep the normal /casual modes ping-based.

OddJob001 (RedditTwitter)

Skill-based matchmaking makes sense at a competitive level, but when it comes to the general public, it only works with low player counts.

If you think of various sports: football, futball, MLB, other leagues; they have various levels of experience and skill. It makes matches more interesting, it generates competition and it helps people grow. It gives them an opportunity to become top in their skill level, then move to the next. However, it’s very difficult to apply this concept successfully to larger people (player) counts, such as recent games that are trying to figure out how to implement this idea. With larger games, specifically games that involve large numbers of random players, players that are competitive, players that are considered casual, SBMM just doesn’t work. A game can only control certain aspects of skill, but the player is always going to bring randomness. For larger game modes, say 16v16 and up, it just doesn’t work to try and force people into certain matches, based on what the game developer deems is “skill.”

Skill levels come in all shapes and sizes. I have players on my scrim rosters that have negative KDR (kill/death ratio) but end up in first place for score because they are insanely good at reviving my team. There are players that might only get 3-4 kills in a competitive match, but maybe they watched a flank the entire match and communicated to the rest of the team when enemies were coming in, protecting an entire side. I also have players on my teams that will go 5 KDR in scrims, and I know I can count on them to just frag. How do you define which of them has skill? I see games try to come up with all sorts of ways to determine skill.

All in all, SBMM can work in some circumstances. Things like small matches, sponsored competitive matches or events, but I just don’t ever see it working with the core of most games. That is the casual, random gamer that just wants to hop on and play for a bit, in a large game with random people from around the world.

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ModernWarzone (Twitter, Reddit)

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s_hauge
s_hauge
2 years ago

Strange, SBMM allows me to experiment, have fun and play casually while having a KDR just below 1. The point is to not only look at your KDR as the only measure of “fun”.

jameslara
Reply to  s_hauge
2 years ago

that’s how I see it tbh
Too many people are measuring “fun” from them getting hundreds of kills over everyone else

Alex
Reply to  s_hauge
2 years ago

I’m part of the crowd that doesn’t want strict SBMM. I mean, some of us had to learn how to play the hard way and got pub stomped a lot before too. But I do know why it’s there and what it brings to the table. Publishers, devs, and even players do want it since it helps people getting stomped repeatedly. Maybe just don’t implement it as strict as it was in Modern Warfare?

s_hauge
s_hauge
Reply to  Alex
2 years ago

It’s being called “skill” based MM, but it is at least much also play style based. If you go for high KDR, you will end up with similar players. I choose to play objective modes and go for wins, and are matched with objective players (and lesser skilled campers). The SBMM is not so strict now as it was just after MW release.

Dtoxz
Dtoxz
2 years ago

I think SBMM in the right company’s hands can be a great thing. Allowing new players to play freely without worrying about insane skill gap.

HOWEVER….

SBMM in Activision’s hands is a VERY bad thing. Using it to sell DLC and Microtransactions makes me think that the entire game at it’s core is rigged. Are Youtubers really THAT good or is their account SBMM turned down as well? When I watch someone on Youtube stomp a lobby, it makes me want to play the game. So just like selling the DLC guns, this game feels “rigged” to help sales rather than new players. Not to mention, they could turn it up during a double XP weekend to attract players but then hinder the progression of the earn by pitting you against much tougher players. Yeah this game isn’t for me. I don’t need to “git gud” at COD. lol.

After playing this game and tolerating Activisions slimy ways for about 12+ years, I can take almost anything they have to dish out except this. I would actually prefer the lootboxes we got in Black Ops 4 to this because like I said, the game feels rigged to allow battlefield control. I ignored loot crates otherwise so they didn’t bother me. SBMM is something that I can’t ignore because it’s at the root of the game and how you play.
It’s crazy….it’s almost like the digital/video game version of the plot to MGS4. Battlefield control. All to allow someone else to profit/succeed.

I also have been playing this game for so long, with a steady 2.0 ratio (I know K/D isn’t everything but thats for all the idiots that reply with “git gud” saying nothing intelligent in the conversation) I don’t care to be “good” at this game anymore, especially considering it’s irrelevance after 12 months once the next game comes out. I have nothing to prove. It’s about fun, not sweating till you get to the top. Thats what ranked play is for. COD is a casual experience usually but not anymore I guess. Oh well, on to different games then. I don’t need to compete with people, COD will have to compete with other games to me if that’s the case.

ok-w-
ok-w-
Reply to  Dtoxz
2 years ago

its really sad how much sbmm ruined modern warfare, I would try experimenting with guns but everyone on the enemy team will be suing things such as mp5’s and m4’s. Its funny too because BOCW is literally the same thing, except they re-named the m4 by just putting an x in front of it (XM4) but other than that its still the same meta pretty much.

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