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:
SBMM does not belong in Call of Duty causal playlists. It only needs to be active in a separate, ranked playlist.
— Call of Duty News (@charlieINTEL) September 19, 2020
SBMM does not belong in Call of Duty. There should be a ranked playlist for people to sweat in. I’m not trying to play Scuf wielding game fuel chugging demons with szn in their psn on Miami TDM. Also, to the noobies that are gonna cry about this tweet, hold this choppy gunny.
— Seth Huntsmen (@scump) September 19, 2020
A Few Hours Later…
Extend the Cold War alpha 1 day, & disable SBMM for that day. I promise you the core COD audience will love it.
— FaZe Kitty (@FaZe_Kitty) September 19, 2020
Kids that like SBMM grew up playing in sport leagues that gave out participation trophies to everyone 🤭
— NRG Lulu (@LuluLuvely) September 19, 2020
Adding a ranked mode to Call of Duty will NOT solve the SBMM issue.
As with every game with a ranked mode, players will still go to the casual playlist and pub stomp if they’re allowed to.
Ranked needs to have a REAL incentive to continue to climb the ranks, or it dead.
— ModernWarzone (@ModernWarzone) September 19, 2020
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 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.
— Seth Huntsmen (@scump) September 19, 2020
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!