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COD: Black Ops Cold War — what is SBMM and why is it a big deal?

(Image Credit: Activision)
(Image Credit: Activision)
Brandon Moore
Modified 19 Sep 2020, 23:30 IST

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War has hit PlayStation 4 systems for a weekend of Alpha build multiplayer. Players are loving it and a fully polished version is sure to exceed expectations. There are a few maps to choose from, several weapons and killstreaks to select, and even a handful of operator skins to run with. It truly feels like a new game, but the same beloved COD all at once.

One thing that has brought up a heated debate though is SBMM. This isn't the first time it has been cause for alarm within the COD community. SBMM has divided the player base for quite some time, but the problem in it's truest sense isn't solely a Call of Duty specific one.

What is SBMM?

(Image Credit: Activision)
(Image Credit: Activision)

SBMM stands for skill-based matchmaking. Games use a number of factors to determine a player's skill level. It is a very complex algorithm that can include a player's location, connection type, time spent alive, overall KD ratio, and so much more. This is used in matchmaking to pit player against others with perceived similar skill levels. Several popular games such as COD, including Warzone, Fortnite, and Apex Legends all use SBMM to determine who plays against who.

How does SBMM affect COD?

High skill players are typically matched with high skill players. Low level skill players are put in lobbies with low skill players. It is that simple, but some COD players tend to think this takes the fun out of the game. Players with a high skill set are constantly having to “sweat” in their lobbies.


SBMM is meant for ranked matchmaking, but it has made its way into public playlists. That is where the issue lies. Treyarch recently revealed that SBMM has been in the public matchmaking system for quite some time.

Players have to constantly be on top of their game. SBMM means partying will lower skill level friends may not be a possibility.

Constantly being matched up against similar skilled players means that “popping off” and getting those insane clips to show the world may not necessarily happen. All in all, SBMM in a ranked setting certainly has its place. In public and casual playlists, however, SBMM should be kept far far away.

Published 19 Sep 2020, 23:30 IST
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