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A look at members of the Phantoms faction in XDefiant.
Screenshot via Ubisoft on YouTube

Does XDefiant have SBMM?

A major decision, no doubt.

Skill-based matchmaking, or SBMM, has long been one of the very hottest topics in multiplayer gaming. With Ubisoft’s XDefiant looking to compete directly with first-person multiplayer shooter juggernaut Call of Duty, its usage of SBMM has become a major focal point for prospective players.

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The use of SBMM in CoD, namely in its casual modes for multiplayer and Warzone, has largely been panned by the dedicated player base, as many players are looking for a playlist that doesn’t constantly require highly competitive play.

But will XDefiant mandate that skill-based matchmaking be implemented in all of its modes?

Does XDefiant have skill-based matchmaking?

XDefiant does have SBMM, but only in ranked play, as first mentioned in a developer blog post in Oct. 2022. In the weeks leading up to the XDefiant release in May 2023, the devs confirmed yet again that the casual playlist does not use SBMM. That being said, it does use skill ratings to balance teams once players have matched.

Within the casual playlist, matchmaking is based on players’ ping primarily, before taking into account factors like party size, region, input device, and platform.

Why XDefiant won’t be following CoD‘s SBMM blueprints

From no SBMM to pre-game map voting and an old-school minimap, XDefiant features a plethora of gameplay design choices many in the CoD community have seemingly been calling for. Perhaps at the forefront of this development is one of the leaders of the XDefiant team, ex-Infinity Ward executive producer Mark Rubin.

Last year, Rubin posted a Twitter thread explaining why they are “NOT a fan” of SBMM. “Ranked exists for a reason,” Rubin wrote. “To give players who want to push themselves competitively a place to do so and be rewarded for it. But when it comes to Casual play I don’t think this is the right experience.”

Contextualizing player skill as a value that translates to a bell curve, Rubin emphasized the key to a great casual experience in their eyes is being able to have a variety of experiences from match to match, not pub stomping. “I want to play against players better than me and I want to feel proud of being one of the better players in a match. And I feel SBMM takes away that variety and makes me play the same match over and over again.”

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Image of Ralston Dacanay
Ralston Dacanay
Ralston joined Dot Esports as a freelance writer in February 2023, and covers everything from VALORANT, Call of Duty, and Apex Legends, to NBA 2K and trending releases. His all-time favorite video games include NBA 2K11, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2009) and Halo 3. A class of 2020 alum of California State University, Long Beach, he graduated with a B.A. in Journalism and a minor in Finance.
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Scott Robertson
VALORANT lead staff writer, also covering CS:GO, FPS games, other titles, and the wider esports industry. Watching and writing esports since 2014. Previously wrote for Dexerto, Upcomer, Splyce, and somehow MySpace. Jack of all games, master of none.