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Modern "skill based matchmaking" is anything but. It's ruining muliplayer games. Is it worse than loot boxes? Can anything be done?

LegendOfKage

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NOTE: BEFORE COMMENTING, PLEASE READ THE BOLD PARAGRAPHS IN THE TEXT BELOW. This post isn't just about traditional SBMM.

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When people think of skill based match making they think of good players being matched with good players, great players being matched with great players, and bad players being matched with bad players.

The basic idea is that you will be matched against and alongside players of your specific skill level. And even when that was the case, it's debatable if that really is "fair." Should players who put in the time and effort to become good at a game never get the experience of destroying less skilled players? Or is it wrong for good players to have fun at the expense of the less skilled?

For that matter, what is generally more fun? Is it a better experience to be matched with people of your skill level where every game is a hard fought battle that nearly ends in a tie? Is it more fun to win most of your games as you and a couple of above averagely skilled friends stomp 0.5 KD players all night long? There's really no truth here. These are subjective questions without any real answers. Different people are going to feel differently about all of this, and that's fine.

Where things become much more right and wrong is with what skilled based matchmaking has become. It's a computer algorithm that decides when you should win, and when you should lose, with the sole objective of keeping everyone online for as long as possible, and retaining the largest amount of people possible, so they can sell loot boxes or battle passes to the largest number of people possible.

It's you getting matched against people ABOVE your skill level, and with teammates below your skill level, when a computer decides you should lose. It's a game that refuses to allow any "random" group of players to stay together for longer than one match, because it wants to split you up so you can lose next time, or someone else on your team can win next time, all based on player retention. And it's indefensible to all but the shareholders.


I would argue that this is even worse than loot boxes, because loot boxes can be ignored. But despite the hate of loot boxes from customers, it really took a combined effort from both customers and the threat of government regulation before companies started to remove loot boxes from their games. It isn't very likely there will be such concern from any government regarding this newer breed of "retention based match making."

But what can be done? Is this really what all competitive multiplayer games will always be from now on, or can players demand otherwise? If a change happens, where will it come from, and how can it benefit all involved?



tl;dr: Just watch a minute or two of this video from the time stamp. Knowing this, what can be done about the situation?

 
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HeisenbergFX4

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I will take it one step further and say I hate it when I get put into lobbies where people are intentionally killing themselves over and over to get into weaker lobbies.

Or in Rocket League getting random team mates that just drive around not doing anything to force a loss
 

Shelookdlvl18

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This is a subject I'm not really sure is completely on the developers or publisher. Skill based matchmaking as in Cold War puts me with people that are usually somewhere around my skill, rank, whatever, etc...

How complex and focused any of it is on retention vs just trying to avoid weak players from giving up is really just speculation. At least at this point, to assume a doom and gloom future because of it is faulty logic.

The increased calling out of skill based matchmaking, is almost exclusively done by youtubers and streamers. They absolutely hate to have to tryhard in order to get decent content. They figure if they can manage to convince enough people to raise hell, and get Activision to do away with it... They'll be back on easy street. Playing CoD is their job, and they do it often in excess of 8hrs a day. So it stands to reason that they're better than 90% of the playerbase. They just hate playing with that top 10%.
 

Aion002

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If anyone enjoys stomping weaker players... Why not just play against bots? Or does the enjoyment of that person comes from making others feeling bad about losing on a video game?

If that's the case... Well...

Stop It Michael Jordan GIF



I play Smite with a group of people, when we get matched against inexperienced players, the matches gets really boring... Most of the time we rush damn thing to finish it as quickly as possible. Thankfully the game does have a surrender option.

We need better matchmaking tools... No one deserves to play with or against afk/troll or low level players.
 
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Nov 26, 2020
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I agree, for example games like counterstrike 1.6/source and some fighters didnt have matchmaking, you encounter people way better than you sometimes, and that made ME better as a result.

Its also tougher to gauge your progress individually also.

I ask myself...what would vegeta do. Vegeta would want the chance to play against the strongest, even if hes a weakling, and matchmaking inhibits that tbh
 

Men_in_Boxes

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Read the post, please. You can skip right to the two bold paragraphs, if it helps.

I would argue in some sense, the makers of Call of Duty know their product sucks. They jerry rig the system to keep people hooked on an incredibly shallow and repetitive gameplay loop.

It does seem like those types of games are going to have a hard time in the market moving forward.
 
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LegendOfKage

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How complex and focused any of it is on retention vs just trying to avoid weak players from giving up is really just speculation. At least at this point, to assume a doom and gloom future because of it is faulty logic.

It's not speculation that the lobby is broken up after every single match in the latest Call of Duty title. If you were truly matching people according to skill level, there would be no reason to do that.
 
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SlimySnake

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Ssbm is awful. It stopped games from being fun and turned every single game into a grindfest. If i wanted tryhards and sweaty players in every game i would play in ranked modes.

Splitting lobbies also reeks of the algorithm making sure you don't have more than one good game.
 

Men_in_Boxes

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Old school "random" matchmaking is far better than any variation of the later techno-socialist implementations of some arbitrary idea of "fairness".

Nobody wants to devote time + money towards developing and implementing a SBMM system.

Everyone does it because they know how unhealthy random matchmaking is for the life of a multiplayer game.
 

LegendOfKage

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Nobody wants to devote time + money towards developing and implementing a SBMM system.

Everyone does it because they know how unhealthy random matchmaking is for the life of a multiplayer game.
The most successful COD games in history, not to mention the most successful multiplayer games in general, either had no skill based matchmaking, or it was very mild compared to what games have these days. I'm sure SBMM could be found all the way back in Black Ops 1, but the purpose of it then was to keep the bottom 20 percent of players from ever seeing the top 20 percent of players, or something more along those lines. It was always in these games, it just wasn't designed around predicting wins and losses.

Ssbm is awful. It stopped games from being fun and turned every single game into a grindfest. If i wanted tryhards and sweaty players in every game i would play in ranked modes.

Splitting lobbies also reeks of the algorithm making sure you don't have more than one good game.

Exactly.
 
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TheKratos

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Any type of matchmaking that is not purely ping/connection based is sus to me. Activision uses a MM system that makes them most money. It protects that playerbase who buy shitload of bundles without caring about the meta. You can easily test this out with a bad smurf account, the variety of operator skins and bundles will amaze you.

The sweatlords only play the meta so they will only buy a handful of bundles so the MM system pools them together. They will use one OP skin and 1 or 2 loadouts every single game. They're not the main cash generating unit for Activision but they're hardcore enough to play every day and buy new bundles occasionally.

TLDR: Activision use matchmaking system that mainly milks the bad players while enjoying huge playtime from the hardcore. A win win.. for Activision.
 
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Kataploom

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What? I'd rather loose 5 times in a row against similar skill level players than win those in very easy games... as long as the match is intense and close enough I'll enjoy... Paladins lacks skills based matchmaking which makes it useless a lot of times, they seem to put anyone with relative W/L rates in a team and that's it. It's painful but when matches are very closed, omg, best online game ever for me lol (hyperbole but you get it).
 

Lupin3

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It's you getting matched against people ABOVE your skill level, and with teammates below your skill level, when a computer decides you should lose. It's a game that refuses to allow any "random" group of players to stay together for longer than one match, because it wants to split you up so you can lose next time, or someone else on your team can win next time, all based on player retention. And it's indefensible to all but the shareholders.

Not saying there aren't any algorithms, because I'm sure there are, but it sounds awfully complex if it wanted to apply exactly this to all active players in one game. It would have to take multiple rounds between every time it actually affects/targets you directly, right?
 

Alandring

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Skill-based matchmaking is a necessity, because you want to play against player at the same level at you. Playing chess with a Grand Master wouldn't be a good experience for him or for me.

But matchmaking aren't always skill-based. We saw a patent from Activision about matchmaking that should helps player to enjoy their recent purchase. This shouldn't exist.
 

Kydd BlaZe

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Not saying there aren't any algorithms, because I'm sure there are, but it sounds awfully complex if it wanted to apply exactly this to all active players in one game. It would have to take multiple rounds between every time it actually affects/targets you directly, right?
This “lobby balancing” is literally happening in games like Destiny 2 at the moment. I’m a 2.15 overall K/D and frequently have sub .5 K/D players on my team, while the other team has a slew of 1.5 K/D players in an attempt to “balance” the lobby. What happens is, the sub .5 K/D players get farmed no matter how hard I carry and we end up losing anyway. It another form of skill based matchmaking to be honest.
 

SlimySnake

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This “lobby balancing” is literally happening in games like Destiny 2 at the moment. I’m a 2.15 overall K/D and frequently have sub .5 K/D players on my team, while the other team has a slew of 1.5 K/D players in an attempt to “balance” the lobby. What happens is, the sub .5 K/D players get farmed no matter how hard I carry and we end up losing anyway. It another form of skill based matchmaking to be honest.
Lol i was just bitching about that a couple of weeks ago in another thread. Black ops 3 did this. Top 2 got paired up with bottom 6 players in the lobby. And had to go against a team made up of the top 3-10 ranked players.

Look at the kdr of people on my team and their team. They are all 1 while the bottom three players on my team were complete shit.




Still prefer this over ssbm.
 

Hypno285

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When I play Chess, I want to play against my equal or someone slightly better than me.

If your game isn't fun when playing against players of similar skill level, you've made a bad game.

Chess=/=online FPS video games

How in the hell am I supposed to know how gud I should be in order to git gud? I've been playing CoD MP on PC since 05'.
 
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kingpotato

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Might have been more helpful to use the retention based MM term so people don't get confused with what you mean. I've fallen for this in the past with overwatch and when I started to get the feeling this is what was happening I dumped the game. I totally disagree with all the emotional mind games that are employed today to keep players going and suspect that when players realize what is going on they are more likely to reject the game.

All major multiplayer games these days have mechanics that are focused on manipulating and exploiting the player subconsciously to form a literal addiction.
 
Oct 26, 2018
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Cold War's SBMM sucks. I dont mind playing against similar players, but after every match the players reset and you got to wait for new players to load into the lobby. Slows everything down.

Constantly adjusting someone's ranking after every match is overkill. Maybe do it every 5 or 10 matches. At least give gamers a solid stretch to play before adjusting lobbies.
 
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Hypno285

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Having dedicated servers you can choose to your own liking is still the best way of doing it.

True but I don't like letting too many people know my IP address and server sided mods that CoD1-5 had could contain viruses.

Also there's the thing about being banned for being too good at the game.

**EDIT**

Sometimes there are literal children that moderate. I'm talking 12-16 years old.
 
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Knightime_X

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* Stop camping for kills.

* Actually play domination instead of "defending" the entire match.

* Stop caring if you go 30-1 or 1-30.

* If you start sweating then get a towel and calm down. You're not getting paid.
 

Excess

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When I used to hear people talking about SBMM, I just figured it was people complaining about having to sweat. Now I know it's an algorithm that has been programmed to manipulate you for retention. They just want you to perpetually chase a high that is never consistently possible.
 

PSYGN

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I hate that the lobby splits up after a match. I think it's dumb in any type of game, it's just human nature to want a re-match when in a small group, especially when trash talking Timmy thinks you only won because you used some OP meta weapon. Nah, let me slap you with another gun then. As stupid it as it sound it was always cool to see randos message me asking for loadout tips or how I got so good (which I reply just no life it). And then the few times you laugh at some noob loadout with a dumb scope on it but actually end up destroying the lobby with it and mowing them down with your killstreak only to see their party leave. The variety of players, weapons, situations is just bigger when there is no skill based matching. There's also a lot more unsubstantiated trash talking or just casual chatting. The higher skilled lobbies seem to have less of it as everyone is zoned in and sweating.

All the nuances that made CoD fun for me is gone today, I've moved onto better games that have a skill gap taller than a crushed can to compete within. One that is less about shoot first die first which is what CoD literally becomes at higher skills, jumpshot sliding around with your aim constantly drawn.
 
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theclaw135

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A list of servers pops up. You click on one.

Perfection.

Anything else is a farce. I wouldn't be surprised if matching is rigged so players who buy more lootboxes have more fun.
 

bargeparty

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Anything that relies on matchmaking and placing you on some server or p2p connections or whatever vs picking a server from a list will always be shitty. It's one of the reasons I don't play those types of online games anymore. I play Fortnite with my sister sometimes and it's absolutely maddening how shitty the matchmaking is.
 
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MrFunSocks

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It's only a big problem IMO when it affects matchmaking times and who you can choose to party with.

PUBG had massive problems with both of these. In ranked if you were a higher rank than your friend by a few levels, you literally could not play with them in a squad. That's terrible and not a good experience.

When they first added skill based matchmaking for non-ranked, those of us who are very good at the game just couldn't find matches here in Australia because there simply weren't enough that it decided were our "skill".

First of all, life isn't fair. Second of all, you get better playing against better competition.
Not always true. If you're just getting repeatedly absolutely stomped and being killed before you can do anything, you're probably more likely to stop playing the game than get better. This was one of the main reasons why they added shitty bots to PUBG - new players were playing like 8 games on average, getting 0 kills, and getting killed without even seeing anyone, then they just stopped playing the game.

I still much prefer just random matchmaking though. If you're not playing "ranked" or "pro" then everyone should just be in together in the same matchmaking pool.
 
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Ozzy Onya A2Z

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Try this on Aussies servers in any game with SBMM it's skewed AF and you just start having the same sweats of the highest tiers game after game. It's magnified by a smaller population and matching full teams as well. There are some things devs just don't implement that piss you off e.g.
  • rematch for a limited number of games (to avoid boosting)
  • shuffle teams and rematch
  • team/no team matching
  • random matching social playlists where SMBB is ranked only
  • ensure avoidance of previously matched teams or players so you don't get stomped 2-5 games in a row by the same team/players or allow boosting
  • metrics need to account for games just played in that session e.g. maps/modes you just played, which maps you do well on, which friends you do well with/don't
  • post game survey of enjoyed or not enjoyed
  • more options exist but they just don't implement additional controls for systems/players/leaders to use.

Honestly I've gone back to the idea that random matching based on player selected choices for maps/modes across the board is just better and completely stomps the ideas of the smurf/ALT accounts or deranking etc.

TL;DRL: Devs and platforms need to do more. The end results of SMBB aren't actually delivering higher quality games for players over time. MCC has a pretty awesome system these days and a few of these tweaks above would curate something far more enjoyable, at least worth a run for some months to compare.
 
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Apr 22, 2021
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Git gud? But seriously as someone who is better than average at COD SBMM is designed to keep you “average” even if you aren’t. I’d much rather a system without it personally.
 
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thief183

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Agree, SSBB is designed to make you feel average, there is no real sense of progression. Dunno about COD I'm talking about almost any other game I tried with it.
 

nani17

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Apex legends is full of this shit and it doesn't work properly at all. First game of the day and the algorithm decides "fuck it you're ranked 455 so eh here's a level 14 player with 10 kills on lifeline and hmmm need balance oh a level 50 player with 21 kills on wrath"

You'll have to carry these two players to try and get anywhere. In the end its just stressful and annoying as fuck and not enjoyable at all. After 5 loosing games in a row the algorithm decideds ok here's one player above your skill and one the same..... Enjoy and finally it feels like it should be
 
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jigglet

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I used to think SBMM was a good idea...until I started actually playing competitive online games.

Black Ops 2 was my first one. I went from getting stomped on and going literally 1-20 every game to doing really well and getting 20-30 kills a game. It felt great to progress. I still wasn't at the top - there were still people stomping on me, but I could feel myself getting better over time.

With SBMM I could play the same game for 1,000 hours and still feel average, like I have not improved at all. It's a horrible feeling.

I wish people who don't even play competitive games and say "oh do you feel like a big man stomping on new players?" would actually try to play these games and realise that unless you've got no backbone, you won't mind being a newbie being stomped on. It's like you're being a white knight for people that don't even need your help. I certainly don't care about being stomped on every time I start a new game that I know nothing about. I mean what the fuck, do you expect all newbies to be pros within the first 30 seconds?
 
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Saber

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I remember when I used to play League of Legends. LoL supposedly used this kind of matchmaking with the purpose of "fair" skill, even though didn't take account alot of other factors(like people rage quitting for instance).

My experience with it was terrible. Used to consider myself a good player(not a pro, I didn't have ranked level because I didn't played ranked). But there was a time where the algorythim aways "match" me with very very terrible players while the other team was full of pro players(for comparison sake, used to face diamonds and challengers vs my team of unrankeds like me). This because they also didn't take premade teams into consideration. It was made on purpose, so people with friends could literally smash randomly grouped players. This method literally handicaps the matchmaking, turning it into a cancerous experience.

The last time I played I was on a pityfull streak of losing(12 rimes in row). All of them either have players quitting before the battle starts, people ragequit because they didn't get their positions, intentional feeding, you name it.

After that I quit the game for good. I totally believe this type of matchmaking is the worst as it doesn't take alot of factors, including human behaviour. Randomly facing enemies still the way to go.
 
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