MW3 SBMM
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For years, skill-based matchmaking, or SBMM, has been a hot topic, especially in the Call of Duty community. What is it? Players believe it’s Call of Duty’s attempt to match you up with players close to your skill. It sounds fine on the surface, but many believe the system gets overtuned, and you end up playing against teams that are much better than yours. This leads to a whipsaw effect as the matchmaking pulls back after you lose multiple games in a row, only to ramp up again when you have a good match.

Another problem is when playing together with friends of varying skill. It tends to lean on the best players’ skill too much when matchmaking. Then you end up with lopsided matches.

The debate within the Call of Duty community finally reached a point where the devs have responded (via a statement to ModernWarzone). Here’s what they had to say:

“We know there is a lot of interest in the matchmaking experience, especially around how skill contributes to how lobbies and matches are put together. Nothing is more important to us than the experience players have with the game, and matchmaking is a big part of that. We’ve been working on our matchmaking system for well over ten years, and we continue to spend a ton of time and energy on improving the matchmaking process. This involves people working at our Call of Duty studios, our backend services teams at Demonware, and other groups like our Player Insights team. It’s a large effort that we’ve worked on for many years, and our approach combines latency, search time, and skill, along with many other factors, to try to find the best match experience for you. Talking about this topic in detail can be hard, and we haven’t spent the time to pull together all of our work to share with you our insights and improvements over the many years. We’re looking forward to doing that in the coming weeks after Season 1 launches, and we’ll also make it a part of our ongoing discussions with the community.”

I would love to see an in-depth breakdown of how much weight is put on each part of matchmaking. Players can get around SBMM by reverse boosting (dying/losing a bunch on purpose to get into a low-skill game) or using a VPN. That lines up with what the devs say with skill and latency being part of the formula. 

But is there a goal the devs aim for on the skill part of the equation? Are they trying to keep most players near a certain K/D (kill/death ratio) or SPM (score per minute)? And which one factors more into the skill part of matchmaking?

The devs could also use the experimental playlist to try different matchmaking techniques. Have one focused solely on search time or latency and see how the community responds.

The devs promise to go into more detail sometime after Season 1 launches next week

Shooters are my jam, but I like to dip into story games from time to time as well. You can reach me at [email protected]

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