Drift0r reveals SBMM affects connection quality in Black Ops Cold War

Black Ops Cold War Adler With LogoActivision / Treyarch

The release of Black Ops Cold War has been plagued by complaints about weapon skins, progression, and, of course, skill-based matchmaking. Popular YouTuber Drift0r has revealed that the SBMM in Cold War can even change connection quality based on skill level.

Even before the official release of Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold war, the game’s community was up in arms about the title’s skill-based matchmaking (SBMM) system. Since launch, prominent content creators like Drift0r, XclusiveAce, JGOD, and S0ur have conducted extensive research into how strong the SBMM in this title is.

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After reviewing the findings, Drift0r released a YouTube video that confirmed the presence of SBMM in Black Ops Cold War and revealed that, for the first time in franchise history, it appears the system is affecting connection quality.

Black Ops Cold War SBMM testing and results

The four content creators took a deep dive into Cold War’s SBMM implementation and provided the raw data they compiled for the community to review. The group set certain standards for the testing – like enabling crossplay and playing the same number of games on each account – to ensure the data is consistent and as accurate as possible.

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They decided to look at several specific data points: matchmaking time, ping to server, lobby kill/death ratio, lobby score per minute, and the account’s K/D and SPM figures for the last five games. After reviewing the data they collected, Drift0r revealed the group’s major findings:

  1. High-skill accounts take longer to find a match and have higher ping than low-skill accounts
  2. Cold War’s ping scales off base connection quality (if a player has 10 ping it will double to 20, but if a player has 40 ping it will double to 80)
  3. The group’s ping increased anywhere from 10 to 25 ms after switching to a high-skill account
  4. The group’s matchmaking time increased anywhere from 10 to 25 seconds after switching to a high-skill account
Black Ops Cold War Season 1 Trailer AdlerActivision / Treyarch
SBMM in Black Ops Cold War has been an issue since the game’s Alpha and Beta.

The data collected not only confirms that SBMM exists in Cold War but that it can increase or decrease a player’s ping depending on their performance. In a game where connection and hit registration are quite literally the difference between life and death, this has huge implications.

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The results also show that an account’s K/D ratio over its past five games appears to affect matchmaking, explaining why players might have a few good games in a row followed by a few bad games. Drift0r confirmed that “your recent performance is definitely being considered by the algorithm.”

Drift0r also says that SBMM feels like a problem for most players because they are being matched so closely with others of similar skill. When players are constantly being matched with opponents around the same skill level, the in-game experience will feel more difficult.

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Black Ops Cold War Drift0r VideoYouTube / Drift0r
Research done by Drift0r and other content creators has revealed new info on how SBMM operates in Black Ops Cold War.

Drift0r’s opinions on Black Ops Cold War SBMM

Drift0r was not happy with the group’s findings; in his YouTube video, he confirmed that this system is a huge problem for players with poor connections and above-average skill level, and they are being severely handicapped.

Despite his concerns about the current system, the YouTuber does not want SBMM removed from the game entirely. He confirmed that some version of the system for normal skill brackets would be fine, but it should not be as strict as the current implementation.

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“Call of Duty is not a competitive shooter; Call of Duty is, at its core, a very casual game,” he said. “Call of Duty is built to be or was built to be, enjoyable as a casual game, where you do fun things or flashy things. Call of Duty is enjoyable for its craziness, and not its competitiveness.”

Now we’ll just have to wait and see whether anything changes with skill-based matchmaking moving forward.

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