New Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War’s SBMM Causes Uproar

Updated On:

September 19, 2020

Doug Dagnabbit

Doug Dagnabbit

Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War Open Alpha Dates


Share on twitter
Share on facebook
Share on reddit

Table of Contents

Cold War Alpha Live Gameplay

The Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War Alpha is out now for all PS4 players. While the Alpha has been received rather well thus far, the conversation has shifted towards the game’s controversial skill-based matchmaking (SBMM), and it’s not in a good way at all. 

New Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War’s Skill-based Matchmaking Reactions:



A Few Hours Later…


What Is Skill-Based Matchmaking And Why The Uproar?


For anyone who doesn’t fully know what skill-based matchmaking is, it’s basically a system where you are matched up with other players around the same skill level as you. This is based on various factors, and is designed to protect the more casual players. Well, that’s the idea anyway.

Truthfully, skill-based matchmaking is a tricky thing to get right due to a variety of reasons. For instance, let’s say you aren’t very good at a particular game. And maybe your friends are much better than you at that game. So, anytime you play with them, you’re constantly thrown into a lion’s den of higher skilled players. It’s easy to see why those lesser-skilled people wouldn’t find that particularly enjoyable.

On the flip side, if you are a really good player, you’re always forced to give it 100% in every match. With skill-based matchmaking, you can’t necessarily goof off and have some fun without completely costing your team the match. Going one step farther, since the skill gap isn’t as massive and you’re matched up with similar players, it never truly feels like you are a great player. Which leads to our next issue. Reverse Boosting.


Reverse Boosting


Reverse boosting is essentially killing yourself in game repeatedly or purposefully throwing matches to get put into a bracket of lower skilled players (bots). This practice isn’t a secret, and many top tier content creators on Call of Duty are accused of reverse boosting for their gameplay constantly on social media. 

Even the King of Call of Duty, Scump himself, posted a video earlier today of him reverse boosting on Black Ops Cold War. In the video he is spamming the C4 throw and detonate button as he spawns, dying, and repeating the process all game. I’m not against him sharing his opinion in any form, but this just goes to show how much the vocal COD community is against SBMM.

That being said, the intentions behind skill-based matchmaking are fairly noble. Newer players don’t get crushed out of the gate and more experienced gamers are matched with each other to keep matches more exciting.


Treyarch Director of Technology Speaks on SBMM


So, that brings us back to Black Ops Cold War. Despite many liking the Alpha, a lot of people absolutely hate its skill-based matchmaking. Which brings us to this important question. Should it be taken out? Believe it or not, the answer isn’t as simple you would think.

As you’ve already seen in the plethora of tweets above, this has become the hot-button topic for Call of Duty fans online. One Twitter user claimed that you didn’t need SBMM to make a good Call of Duty and rattled off several examples of Call of Duty games that seemingly didn’t have this system.

Director of Technology at Treyarch Martin Donlon responded, saying that all the games listed did, in fact, feature SBMM. Donlon later even admitted to being the person who wrote the Black Ops 2 SBMM implementation.  

The Twitter user then explained his frustration, stating that Modern Warfare’s SBMM was just too “extreme” and they fear that Black Ops Cold War may be heading the same direction. Donlon understood that point-of-view, saying:


Could Black Ops Cold War Adopt Black Ops 2’s League Play?


It appears that we shouldn’t necessarily be asking for SBMM to be taken out entirely. Instead, the answer may be for the game’s SBMM to be tuned down drastically to allow for a more casual experience. 

Alternatively to SBMM in casual playlists, Treyarch could implement an incentivized, ranked playlist similar to Black Ops 2 for those who are looking for a challenge. 

In Black Ops 2, there was a League Play game system that was essentially skill-based matchmaking. You had access to every gun, attachment, and scorestreak, regardless of your rank. After 5 placement games, you were placed in either Master, Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze, or Iron. You would then move throughout each division depending on if you won or lost and your play in each match.


Encouraging Players to Compete Against Others Their Level


This was Call of Duty’s first real step in making their games more competitive but, Black Ops 2 League Play didn’t have a whole lot of incentives to keep players engaged. If Black Ops Cold War were to bring something like League Play back, perhaps there could be more incentives like exclusive camos you can earn in League Play or even operator skins. 

There are so many opportunities for incentives to players for competing in a separate ranked playlist. For example, exclusive calling cards have always been a highly touted commodity in the community. With the recent lobby system of Modern Warfare it was very rare you’d ever even notice what someone’s calling card looked like. 

Where do you land on this whole SBMM problem? Should it be turned down in Black Ops Cold War? Would you like to see a ranked system like League Play return? Let us know in the comments below. Also, be sure to follow ModernWarzone on Twitter for the latest Call of Duty news!

For more Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War content, here’s our rundown on everything in the Black Ops Cold War Alpha. If you are a zombies fan, check out this article covering the possible return of 2 famous zombie locations in Black Ops Cold War!

Special shoutout to Taylor Cole for co-writing this article alongside me!

Drop some knowledge 💣

11 Responses

  1. I enjoyed Cold War Alpha, but for some reason, I notice when playing a TDM match , in the beginning of the the match I was crushing people, but half way thru it, the players were getting better and better. That caused a buddy of mine, basically to quit and not buy the game. Because it’s fun to start off great and to end great too. Another thing is you should have a quick scope match only, it is sickening that every match I played, you get quick scope from someone you never see. Or your hold a flag, and one comes in jumping and quick scoping you. And all this jumping around and getting shot is stupid too. In real life, I real war, you don’t see enemies jumping around, constantly moving to avoid bullets. Now maybe I’m just getting older, but in real time it doesn’t happen. The game isn’t fair for others, if you can’t quick scope. Another thing , 12 on 12 Domination mode, I liked, but not when you have people quick scoping the entire match, not capturing flags, or trying to win. Even in Modern War zone now, people jump around and quick scope, you gave certain abilities to certain people, that crush every game, you will lose players. It’s not fun to die to a jumping quick scope, because you give them the ability to do so. One thing I notice with crossplay is while watching a players on utube, pc players, they see things i never do, while on console, everyday i see the same thing. They see players better, further, abd clearer. Its really garbage, that you allow pc players, play against slower console players. I hope you get the message. I play everyday.

  2. Sbmm is a great idea. The problem is all your die hard sweats dont want to go up against their own skill level, why not shouldnt the game be challenging? Why does a sweat want to go up against a bunch of noobs? Because it makes the game easier for them. I’m sorry but I dont want to load into a match and find all these die hard prestige masters when I’m a low level, it ruins the game for me.

  3. The crossplay beta will definitely narrow out if pc should be with console and i for sure lnow the outcome and there might just be crossplay enable and disable switch to the settings, hope you guys do this if it comes down to it

  4. Ha, love it when the better players cry about every death, now they want easy lobbies, we all know they back out and take the loss when the going gets tough, putting their ranking for next game lower helping to find easier lobbies. Remove sbmm and dashboards will reign again.

  5. This is such a uninformed and bias article. This is just sows controversy and pits the community against each other over something that barely affects most players.

    First of all, you give the most basic toned down definition of SBMM. Ignoring the multitude of factors that go into match making, how “skill” is only one part of a complex formula. Barely any mention any of the positives. You also only really qoute people complaining about it and leave no positive reviews or defenses of SBMM.

    You suggest the community is all hating SBMM
    “this just goes to show how much the vocal COD community is against SBMM”
    Seems more like a vocal minority to me. Plenty of players like the competition and thats what attracts them to the genre in the first place. The majority just play the game no need to go on twitter. Still I see people on both sides duke it out on twitter. The amount of people talking is all trumped by the millions of active players enjoying MW2019 in its many modes. Even if its not a minority alot off the clout is drummed up from COD creators and not actual experience or fact. Theres also so much misinformation and soap boxing that most people arn’t even forming an informed opinion. Or consider the fact most people complaining havn’t played BOCW or played enough of it to have an informed opinion of it.

    Perfect segway to my next point. The game just came out. This complaining is happening like 24hrs after the games out. Lets consider the small sample size people are complaining about. For one, theres a lack of playlists active that game will eventually have. Normally we have modes that help separate players in casual and more serious play. Also, the people spamming the game all weekend are the die hard COD fans. Of course they are going to be better players. They had this alpha marked in their calendars. Every CDL player and wannabe is trying to get a glimpse of the game. One thing we know about SBMM, that the complainers never seem to mention, is “time played” is a factor in sbmm. So all the people that just download it and play an hour or two are in a group (This is alot of people btw because lots have commitments, responsibilities and can’t game all weekend.) This is new player preservation. They are getting the hang of the game why match them up against people who are on their 30th game of the day or have many hours in game. Its a general courtesy more then anything. This isn’t skill based its time based. Its a simple systems thats in almost every multiplayer game made in the last decade. Even ignoring that that is the case were left with such a small sample size everything is anecdotal at this point.

    Then lets look at Scump for a moment. A pro player, silly guy and bit of a troll. Popular enough anything he tweets is gonna get plenty of likes. Totally manipulating his fan base on this one because his experience isn’t going to be like more then 1% of the communities. Hes a pro gamer and hes complaining about the competition in game on the first day. Honestly so sad. Openly reverse boosting too. Thats only a few rungs down from cheating on the list of scummy behaviors. I checked some of his vods and he was top of the list plenty. Hes was dropping 30 bombs so how bad was the SBMM there? Pro gamers are never going to fit into the SBMM equation. They represent ~0.001% of the community. Match makings never going to be able to put them in a fair match because they always going to be above and way the best in lobby. The fact that they get above average players doesn’t surprise me at all. It should be like that. If he wants to practice guns or not get shot back at play some bots or make a private game. He also rich enough he could buy a new copy of the game every week if he wanted and write it off as a work expense. If they wanna goof off in game theres plenty of ways but its alpha so the other options aren’t really there. Its ALPHA stop whining just leave your feedback.

    Also why not call him out for reverse boosting. So scummy, not only ruining games for others in the process its with the intent of picking off bambis. Probably didnt even accomplish anything because its just another one of the many anecdotal hearsay theories of these SBMM complainers. Pretty sure he would have needed to smurf to get the easy lobbies again. All from a this general misunderstanding of SBMM in the first place. Which is honestly partly to blame on content creators and senior community members. You guys should be informing the public about SBMM facts. not venting your frustrations about losing games. It just gives a loopsided view point and then you get some 15yr old repeating what your saying even tho they are in the most average skill bracket.

    Kudos, for mentioning Martin Donlon’s tweets tho. However you skate over the valuable information in relation to SBMM another reason why I think you might have some bias on the topic.

    Martin says “SBMM is one of *many many tuneable parameters* in a matchmaking system. It’s funny watching people talk about it like its a big switch that can only be turned on or off”

    How can people read something like this, from one of the devs that actually makes SBMM no less, and still go whine about their KD and talk about SBMM as if they got it all figured out.

  6. I would love black ops 2 league play to come back I have about 40,000 followers and did a pole to see if anyone wanted bo2 league play back and I got 98% said yes and 2% said no and I can bet the 2% of people weren’t even born yet or were too young to play I remember winning all 5 placement games and getting put in Platinum then winning my sixth game and getting Masters I ended up back-to-back seasons master rank 1 then on another account I won four out of five placement games got Platinum played probably 12 to 15 games before getting moved up to Masters and I remember after the game the Masters emblem popped up and I freaked out that’s the best league play progression system ever without a doubt I remember being partied up with other players and when they ended up getting a higher rank like platinum or Masters they would freak out to so many people love that league play system… Please call of duty come back with a BO2 league play system and I promise you will not regret it I would rather play league play than public matches anyways but I’m a competitive person I don’t like having to compete so hard in public matches after a full day of league play already sweating and I bet you 98% of the community would agree

  7. I think people have it backwards. Good players who complain about SBMM just wanna be able to go in and crush noobs. You should have to play people at your level. The idea that people who like SBMM “played in sports leagues that gave everyone a participation trophy” is so stupid. Good players who don’t like SBMM are whining bishes. They’re scared to play people at their skill level. The irony shows how unintelligent gen pop is.

  8. If the game is only fun when you get to wail on players far below your skill level maybe the game was never that good in the first place ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to our YouTube channel to get the most exclusive COD leaks.