Chicago Huntsmen flex Peirce ‘Gunless’ Hillman has suggested that purchasing in-game content could lead players to easier lobbies, adding to speculation of MTX-based matchmaking in Modern Warfare.
Since Modern Warfare’s release in October, Infinity Ward have remained tight-lipped about the game’s matchmaking. The widely held belief is that skill-based matchmaking is used to match up players of similar ability in multiplayer.
There have also been rumors - although to a much lesser extent - about microtransaction (MTX) based matchmaking in Modern Warfare. This is when the purchase of in-game content affects the opponents and teammates that a player will be matched with and against.
Speaking on Seth ‘Scump’ Abner’s December 28 Twitch stream, Gunless explained his opinion with his Chicago teammate.
“The more money you spend on the game with like operator bundles and stuff like that,” Hillman said, “the more and more your MMR goes down.” MMR (‘matchmaking rank’) is used in a variety of games determine a player's skill level. A more-skilled player will have a higher MMR, while a lesser-skilled player will have a lower MMR.
Gunless’ suggestion is that buying content lowers your MMR, meaning players who spend real money on the game will be put into easier lobbies.
Scump was clearly skeptical though, questioning if it was '100% fact', but Gunless responded, explaining that: “when I bought two operator packs, I was playing against pure randoms.”
While Gunless seems pretty convinced, it’s important to note that Activision and Infinity Ward do not divulge details of their matchmaking algorithms. Hence, it’s impossible to confirm that a certain algorithm exists or not.
There have been rumors surrounding MTX-based matchmaking previously, with YouTuber PrestigeisKey echoing Gunless’ findings. Earlier in December, he too suggested he had been placed in easier lobbies after spending money on the game.
While it is unconfirmed in Modern Warfare, CoD fans have a right to be concerned. In late 2017 a Glixel report found that Activision had patented a method of matchmaking specifically designed to encourage players to spend money via MTX.
The algorithm would match players who had purchased DLC (downloadable content) into matches against lower-skilled players who had not purchased the new content. As a result, players who had not purchased DLC would be beaten comprehensively by those using the new weapons they had purchased.
At the time, Sledgehammer Games (developers of CoD: WWII) denied that the system was implemented in their 2017 release or in any other Call of Duty.