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‘SBMM ruined this game’: Call of Duty streamers up in arms over ‘demoralizing’ skill-based matchmaking

Skill-based matchmaking is the talk of the town yet again.

Call of Duty streamers commonly invest a substantial amount of time into the series. Whenever you play a game for hours and hours, your skill level undoubtedly grows over time, meaning systems like skill-based matchmaking (SBMM) always have a considerable effect on your experience.

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But yet again, SBMM has come under scrutiny from streamers for having a detrimental effect on their enjoyment of the game.

CoD streamer Zachdubs posted on X (formerly Twitter) on April. 11 to lament about the matchmaking system, saying “SBMM ruined this game.” Zach says he feels like the competition is just too high when he’s repeatedly matched with high-skill players.

Sometimes, you just want to kick back and relax with a morning coffee while hopping on for a quick match, but when you’re facing a barrage of LMG fire precisely gunning you down in a few shots from a window miles away, it’s far from relaxing.

Skill-based matchmaking does have its benefits, and it’s a system the developer spends considerable time and effort trying to get right. At the end of the day, if professional players consistently match up with newbies, it would cause all kinds of outrage. Mixing players up a bit more often and ignoring SBMM every few matches could allow for some extra variety, giving frustrated streamers some much-needed chill time.

Image showcasing the matchmaking process for Call of Duty showing the skill factor on the screen.
The matchmaking process in full detail. Image via Activision

Regarding the matchmaking system, Activision commented in a blog post surrounding the process earlier this year. The developer said: “We use player performance to ensure that the disparity between the most skilled player in the lobby and the least skilled player in the lobby isn’t so vast that players feel their match is a waste of time.”

Conversely, even higher-skilled players can feel like their match is a waste of time because of the brutality of SBMM. JROCK said on X that he feels SBMM is “demoralizing” since it’s difficult to track your upward rise in skill, ultimately because matchmaking continually pits you against better and better players.

Matchmaking is a difficult aspect of multiplayer games to get right, so it’s only natural there are teething problems from time to time. However, public player frustrations suggest there shouldn’t be such a high level of disparity for those of higher skill levels, especially not to the point where players are struggling to enjoy games.

SBMM is a great way to ensure matches feel balanced, and the aim is to facilitate rewarding yet tense matches. But the scales appear to be tipping too much toward the lower end of the spectrum, and some CoD players are even saying SBMM is ruining their friendships.


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Author
Gordon Bicker
Gordon is a contributing writer for Dot Esports, Attack of the Fanboy, a Games Design (BA) Honours student, and a Video Game Ambassador. He has been writing at AOTF for two years, with four years of games writing experience for outlets like Green Man Gaming. When he's not busy, he'll no doubt be experiencing games, writing poetry, adventuring, or happily starting a new Skyrim playthrough! Gordon's favorite genres include action RPGs, MMORPG's, and First Person Shooters but is always experimenting with many other types of games.