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.

Overwatch

Cheeky Overwatch trick lets Baby D.Va score environmental kills

Published: 26/Nov/2020 19:30

by Michael Gwilliam

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Overwatch players looking to find a new lethal tactic with D.Va should look no further than this trick to surprise and tilt enemy teams.

Since 2016, Overwatch fans have taken highly to the hero D.Va, sporting countless cosplays, creating art, buying merchandise, you name it. Part of the reason for this is just how stylish the gamer-turned-mech pilot is.

As it turns out, however, even outside of her pink mech, D.Va can pack a punch and even eliminate any enemy hero in the game if the opportunity presents itself.

Most people know that D.Va’s Call Mech ability does a bit of damage if you use it directly on top of an enemy player, but not everyone realizes it also has knockback capabilities.

D.va from Overwatch looking cool
Blizzard Entertainment
D.Va is one of the most popular heroes, in and out of mech.

Boops can be one of the best ways in Overwatch to quickly deal with enemies regardless of their HP. Anyone from Roadhog to even Tracer (especially if limited by cooldowns) can fall victim to a well-timed push off the edge of a map.

As Reddit user ‘eregis’ showed, despite being at a disadvantage against a Soldier 76 who put down his Biotic Field for health restoration, the confrontation ended in their favor thanks to the knockback of Call Mech.

While on Rialto, the D.Va player had the Call Mech ability ready, but waited a bit to activate it. First, the player lured the enemy Soldier 76 to a bit of an unfavorable position on Rialto with his back to the water.

After getting the victim close enough to the ledge, the D.Va used Call Mech and sent 76 off the map and to his demise.

Of course, this trick is a bit of a high-risk play. Baby D.Va is tied with Tracer for the lowest-health hero in the game at only 150. However, unlike Tracer, D.Va does haven’t Blink or Recall to get out of tricky situations, so being able to time the Call Mech perfectly can be tough.

Next time you find yourself as Baby D.Va and an opportunity presents itself, try to see if you can secure frags with this ability. Your opponents will never see it coming.