What is SBMM in gaming and why is it so controversial? - Dexerto
Gaming

What is SBMM in gaming and why is it so controversial?

Published: 16/May/2020 12:51 Updated: 16/May/2020 13:48

by Joe Craven

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Skill-based matchmaking (SBMM) has been a major topic in the gaming community of late, but what is it, what games use it, and why do so many players have issues with it? 

What is skill-based matchmaking (SBMM)? 

Skill-based matchmaking refers to how a game decides which players to put into your lobby. When you search for a lobby in any video game, it uses a very complex algorithm to find other players and fill up your lobby – this is called matchmaking.

However, different factors can be used to decide which players get put in your lobby. Location and connection are usually the most important factors, meaning that players geographically closer to you are more likely be put in your match, to reduce lag and heighten connectivity.

Skill-based matchmaking, however, does not necessarily discard factors like connection, but also puts emphasis on finding players similar to you in terms of skill level.

For example, in Call of Duty, the matchmaking algorithm is believed to take into account your stats, like time played, score per minute, and Kill/Death Ratio (KDR), and put you in a match with players who are similar in these areas. This generally results in lower-skilled players being matched with other lower-skilled players, and higher-skill players being matched with other high-skill players.

What games use skill-based matchmaking? 

In short, we don’t know every game that uses skill-based matchmaking. A lot of developers like to keep their matchmaking systems under wraps for various reasons.

Regardless, a host of the world’s most popular games have been confirmed as using some level of skill-based matchmaking. These include Fortnite, Apex Legends, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Warzone.

Epic Games/Infinity Ward
Both CoD & Fortnite use SBMM.

Why is skill-based matchmaking controversial and unpopular?

There are a number of reasons why SBMM is disliked by players. Many argue it punishes higher-skilled players. If a player is higher-skilled, they are put into lobbies with other talented players, preventing them from showcasing their skills and dominating weaker players.

Some also contest that it stops games from being casual. If a higher-skilled player is put with other high skill players, they cannot play the game casually, and are required to invest more focus and effort. This is particularly relevant in games that have both public and ranked modes.

A lot of players think Ranked modes should have SBMM, but public matches should be more casual. Fortnite, which has both a ranked mode and public matches, has SBMM in both. This has proved massively unpopular with a number of its most prominent players, including many streamers, like CouRageJD.

Epic Games
Fortnite has a designated Arena mode, but still has SBMM in its public matches.

Why do developers/publishers use SBMM?

If it’s unpopular with a lot of players, then why is SBMM used by developers? There are a number of potential reasons, but a couple bubble to the surface. First off, it protects lesser-skilled players from being annihilated in every game they play, and eventually quitting. If a player is still learning the mechanics of a game, putting them into a lobby with exceptionally talented players wouldn’t be very fun for them.

Also, it keeps matches more challenging and competitive. If each team has similarly skilled players, the game will be closer and, in theory, more enjoyable. Contrast this to a game in which one team is being dominated, it will be far more difficult for a member of that team to enjoy the game.

This is ultimately where the clash comes. Higher skilled players want to be able to dominate lesser skilled ones, at least occasionally, whereas game studios try to protect worse players to encourage them to keep playing. Despite its controversy, more and more games appear to be moving towards SBMM as a primary part of matchmaking.

League of Legends

Riot dev responds to broken League damage bug with Ravenous Hydra

Published: 28/Nov/2020 18:15

by Daniel Cleary

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A Riot Games developer has responded to a bizarre bug in League of Legends, which is preventing the Ravenous Hydra from working with certain champions’ abilities in-game.

Riot Games introduced plenty of changes in the 2021 preseason patch such as completely revamping the League Item Shop and items to improve the game’s experience before Season 11 kicks off.

Ravenous Hydra is one of the items that has remained in League, but it received some updated stats amid the changes. The item still provides players with lifesteal, in the form of Omnivamp, but Riot has now removed the Crescent Active and added 20 Ability Haste in its place.

However, one thing that has not changed much is the item’s passive ability Cleave, which allows basic attacks and abilities to trigger extra damage, which varies based on the distance between targets.

Urgot's splash artLeague players called for a Ravenous Hydra fix after a glitch was found with champions like Urgot.

There are some champions with abilities that had unique interactions with this item, such as Aphelios’ Severum Q, but players have now noticed a bug, which stops it from working correctly with certain champions.

The issue was raised with League dev Riot Phlox, with one Redditor explaining that champions with multi-hit abilities, like Urgots W, Renekton W, and Warwick’s Ult seem to be where the problem lies.

Riot Phlox responded to the bug, revealing that they are now aware of the unusual damage glitch with Ravenous Hydra and that it would be passed on to the League Dev team.

“I’ll pass this along so we can make sure there are eyes on it, thanks!” the League dev responded, confirming they would soon be working on it.

However, he also revealed that he was unsure just when a fix might be issued for this broken damage bug, adding that they “can’t give a timeframe.”

While it is unclear when the patch will arrive in League of Legends, this will still come as good news to Urgot mains, and those who play similar champs, after they were quite vocal on this issue, as it will soon allow them to have more build options in-game.