Black Ops Cold War dev explains how Call of Duty’s SBMM is “tunable”


A Treyarch developer has explained that every Call of Duty game has “tunable” SBMM of some degree amid controversy surrounding Black Ops Cold War’s matchmaking during the Alpha weekend.

Treyarch’s highly anticipated Black Ops Cold War has Call of Duty fans itching to get their hands on the latest iteration to come from the studio. The Cold War multiplayer reveal left fans eager to hop into the server — a wish that was granted for PlayStation players, who have enjoyed early access throughout the Alpha weekend.

But there has been one topic that has stirred the pot and has been the prevalent discussion point throughout the Alpha — skill-based matchmaking (SBMM). Essentially, the inclusion of SBMM ensures that players of equal skill are pitted against each other, to avoid landslide victories.

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While this appears logical on the surface, many argue that SBMM should only be present in a dedicated Ranked playlist to ensure casual matchmaking remains, well, casual. Naturally, this has sparked debate, with several Call of Duty pros weighing in with their opinion against the inclusion of SBMM.

BOCW sand dunes.Activision
Black Ops Cold War became available on Sept 18, with SBMM being the focal point of discussion.

Treyarch dev breaks the ice

Treyarch dev, Martin Donlon, says that he was the developer responsible for writing Black Ops 2’s SBMM implementation. With that in mind, he responded to a fan’s Tweet, which explained that: “If you make the game good in the first place, it doesn’t need SBMM.”

The fan also claimed that some of the most memorable Call of Duty titles of all-time didn’t include SBMM, which Donlon immediately stated otherwise.

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After detailing that every Call of Duty has a degree of SBMM embedded, Donlon then explained how SBMM is one of a plethora of “tunable” parameters that creates a functioning matchmaking system.

“Perfectly valid viewpoint to have. SBMM is one of many many tunable parameters in a matchmaking system. It’s funny watching people talk about it like it’s a big switch that can only be turned on or off,” he tweeted.

While this Tweet doesn’t indicate whether Treyarch are investigating to make changes to SBMM, it does highlight that the developers are aware of the backlash and have the power to dial it back if necessary.

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While having the option to go head-to-head with an opposite number who is equally as skilled, some prefer the appeal of being able to load into a server and play on a much more casual basis. Only time will tell whether Treyarch decides to dial SBMM back before the Beta becomes available in October.