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Opinion: Fortnite needs skill-based matchmaking

(Image Credit: Epic Games)
(Image Credit: Epic Games)
ANALYST
Modified 04 Sep 2020, 06:58 IST
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Skill-based matchmaking or SBMM has always been a hot topic in the Fortnite community. According to the Fortnite Reddit page, there is even a new increase in SBMM related posts, with a new mega thread needed for players to voice their concerns.

Epic Games has struggled with SBMM decisions in the past. The feature was removed and promptly added back in May of 2020, and it appears that a portion of the player base becomes unhappy regardless of the decision that the developers make. However, Epic has the data on their players, and they reverted those changes for a good reason.


Skill-based matchmaking in Fortnite

SBMM is meant to keep track of a player's performance and place them against players of the same skill level. The purpose of the system in Fortnite is to make the game fair, first and foremost. When the system works well, a player should never have insanely easy games or games that feel way too hard. The more games a player completes, the more accurate the matching becomes.

The most common complaint is that players get matched up against players way above their skill level or "sweats." It's possible that this can happen when Fortnite players are first getting into new skill levels but it's not as common as many make it out to be.

Much of the time, if players are facing off against other incredibly skilled players, it's on purpose; they are the skilled player as well. Those players are facing "sweats" because they are also too skilled for lower ranks. Understandably, it can be fatiguing but it's necessary in Fortnite.

Think about it this way: if a skilled player is aggravated because they play against highly skilled players too often, how do casual players feel when SBMM is turned off in Fortnite? They virtually lose any chance of winning or playing without getting stomped. SBMM should be a slow way of helping players improve against similarly skilled players. Without SBMM, it is far more difficult to improve if a player can barely get a shot off before a fort is built over them and a sniper goes off. It takes away the fun of Fortnite for what is the majority of the player base.

On the other side of that skill level, many high-level Fortnite players also want SBMM. Those players that love the competition don't want to face added AI players or low-ranked players. That's also not fun for them. SBMM isn't just a Fortnite problem either, it involves other competitive games.

(Image Credit: Epic Games)
(Image Credit: Epic Games)
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Fatigue with skill-based matchmaking

The system may be necessary but it isn't without faults. From my own experience as well, SBMM can create a lot of fatigue in Fortnite. If a player consistently does well, they will go up against other great players. Most of the time, that is ideal for all parties. However, what happens if a player just wants to relax for the day and have fun?

With SBMM, it's hard to just relax at high levels. A player may want to relax for the day, but 80 other skilled players are thinking different. It is likely what creates that sense of wildly better players in SBMM sometimes.

The only option, in that case, is to create a smurf account, which is a new account that has no games played. It's not ideal but it's a good way to relax. Those new Fortnite accounts bring their own problems with lower-level players in the SBMM system but eventually, that smurf account will move up the ranks as well.

I'm sure this isn't the last time the player base will get into a debate over SBMM in Fortnite, but players will likely have to get used to the system.

Published 04 Sep 2020, 06:58 IST
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