The launch of any new game in a long-running series is bound to bring community debate over its new features, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is no exception. Perhaps the biggest topic of discussion is about whether or not Modern Warfare has skill-based matchmaking (a.k.a. “SBMM”). The issue of skill-based matchmaking has split the community for weeks, with some claiming it’s in the game and ruining the fun and some claiming it’s just a myth. But what is skill-based matchmaking, and does Modern Warfare actually have it? This Modern Warfare skill-based matchmaking guide covers everything the community has discovered so far.
What is SBMM?
Skill-based matchmaking is a system of picking which players will be paired up with each other in a multiplayer match based on their skills, determined by stats like kill/death ratio and kills-per-minute. This ensures that good players are pitted against good players and that less skilled players aren’t “pub stomped” by good players. Many multiplayer games — like Destiny 2, for example — have separate PvP playlists for casual, non-skill-based matchmaking and skill-based, “ranked” matchmaking.
What’s the problem with SBMM?
While skill-based matchmaking theoretically helps keep the game interesting for good players and keep it fun for low-skill ones, some players feel it hurts the fun of casual PvP play, turning every match into an intense, “sweaty” struggle for the win. One of these players is Reddit user TheBoss5150, who said their friends no longer want to join them for matches because they feel they’re getting matched with opponents that are at TheBoss5150’s higher skill level. Another potential major downside of skill-based matchmaking is that it could force the game to prioritize skill level over connection quality, which could lead to slow, laggy matches. Many Modern Warfare Reddit users, like kris9512, feel this is happening. There’s also the possibility that skill-based matchmaking will match good players with more cheaters, who have potentially used cheats to earn as many kills as those good players.
Does Call of Duty: Modern Warfare have a SMBMM system?
While many players on Reddit believe Modern Warfare has skill-based matchmaking, Infinity Ward has yet to officially say whether or not this is the case. Call of Duty YouTuber S0ur produced a popular video during the game’s beta that seemed to prove Modern Warfare does at least have some skill-based matchmaking in the form of a low-skill matchmaking tier, where only players of low skill or ability will be matched up together. This means it’s possible to, as S0ur did, “reverse-boost” your way down to low-skill matches by repeatedly killing yourself in-game, tanking your K/D ratio to the point where you are at the level of the low-skill players.
While anecdotal evidence from S0ur and Modern Warfare Reddit users suggests there’s also the opposite form of skill-based matchmaking, where good players are paired with good players, there is no definitive evidence to prove its existence. YouTuber Drift0r suggested during the beta that, while there has to be some kind of skill-based matchmaking to ensure that lower-skill players are “protected” in the low-skill lobbies, it would be impossible for a player with a K/D ratio of five to maintain that high K/D if they were matched up with other five-K/D players 100% of the time.
Regardless of how Modern Warfare’s skill-based matchmaking system might actually work in reality, one need only scan the game’s subreddit to see a large portion of the community feels that the intensity of its skill-based matchmaking needs to be toned down or that a separate skill-based playlist needs to be introduced. Infinity Ward has yet to address the issue publicly, possibly because, as Drift0r argued, the developer doesn’t want to inadvertently encourage large numbers of players to reverse-boost by announcing that there is a skill-based matchmaking system.