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What is SBMM and why are Call of Duty fans so against it?

SBMM has been the focus of a lot of hate in the Call of Duty fanbase in the last few days, but what exactly is it and is it really a bad thing?

The Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War Alpha was barely released before players everywhere began angrily disputing the use of SBMM in the game. SBMM, for those out of the know, stands for skill-based matchmaking. It is the process of grouping players with those of similar skill levels.




The concept is fine enough. By placing newer players with others of their calibre, you ensure that each match feels fair and fun. But when you look at the higher end of the pecking order, things start to unravel.

SSBM Call of duty black ops cold war skill-based matchmaking
(Picture: Treyarch)

A few big names in the Call of Duty community have spoken out against SBMM and its inclusion in the franchise. One big argument for SBMM’s exclusion is that constantly matching those who perform well with others of their skill level, leads to a lot of games where both sides are filled with ‘sweaty tryhard players’ where nobody is having a good time.

Those who oppose skill-based matchmaking in Call of Duty often like to mention that a fun game is one where they could be dominating the battlefield in one round, only to get far fewer kills in the next. Many seek a return to the so-called glory days of Modern Warfare 2 and the original Black Ops, but what’s interesting is that these titles also had SBMM included.




Treyarch developer Martin Donlon took to Twitter recently to shut down a fan who was spreading false information about past titles. When challenged on this claim, Donlon announced that he personally wrote the SBMM implementation for Black Ops 2.

Donlon went on to say that it’s understandable for fans to dislike the current implementation of SBMM. According to the developer, skill-based matchmaking isn’t just a feature that gets turned on or off, rather a complex series of tunable parameters that can be adjusted. Perhaps Treyarch will take note of this rather extreme fan feedback and adjust their SBMM in Cold War accordingly.




Another possible solution would be to introduce a Ranked playlist for the new Black Ops, allowing those who want to have quick fun without worrying about running the top-tier loadouts to simply find that in Casual.

Whether or not the ‘try-hard’ players would stick to ranked mode though, remains to be seen.

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