Call of Duty

Michael Condrey claims Activision controls CoD SBMM & Monetization

by Joe Craven
YouTube: Call of Duty/Activision

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Former Call of Duty developer at Sledgehammer Games, Michael Condrey, has shed some light on the control Activision had over skill-based matchmaking and monetization in past CoD games, despite their unpopularity.

Michael Condrey was Chief Operating and Development Officer at Sledgehammer Games for a number of years, overseeing CoD development alongside Glen Schofield. The two founded the studio back in 2009.

During the time of Call of Duty: WWII, Condrey was promoted to an executive at Activision in February of 2018. He has since left the role in order to work at an unnamed 2K studio in Silicon Valley, California. 

Activision/SHG
Michael Condrey (right) founded SHG in 2009 alongside Glen Schofield (left).

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Condrey has not spoken expansively about his time at Activision, but shed some light on how much control the company has on March 27. 

Skill-based matchmaking has been a very controversial topic in the CoD community of late, with many fans calling for its removal from this year’s Modern Warfare. 

In response to an article from our sister site, CharlieIntel, regarding Nadeshot calling for SBMM’s removal from Warzone, one CoD player joked to ask Michael Condrey. “It didn’t work then, it’s terrible now,” they said. 

In response, Condrey stated that skill-based matchmaking was “never directed into CoD from me”. He also explained that “Analytics, [skill-based] matchmaking, monetization, [dedicated] server coverage, [are] all driven from ATVI central tech and production teams.”

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Condrey summarized that developers have “frustratingly little influence on those corporate decisions despite their impact on our games and the COD community”. 

SBMM in public matches has been very unpopular with fans, who argue it should only be in ranked or competitive modes. Many fans state that higher skilled players are punished for their talents, and are unable to play casually as a result of SBMM. 

Condrey’s last Call of Duty title, 2017’s WWII, was criticized (among other things) for the inclusion of skill-based matchmaking. However, his response appears to indicate that it was a decision made entirely by the publisher, rather than the developer.

Sledgehammer Games
Sledgehammer Games
2017's CoD WWII is SHG's last Call of Duty instalment.

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Despite its lack of popularity in Modern Warfare and more recently Warzone, Infinity Ward have remained tight-lipped over SBMM’s inclusion in their title.

SBMM, some argue, is included to protect lesser-skilled players from being beaten comprehensively in matches. However, given the lack of communication regarding its implementation, it’s hard to know the exact reasons for the insistence on its inclusion in Call of Duty.