Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II is coming out Fall 2022, and as its release date approaches, more and more about the game is being leaked. Naturally, we can't take every leak or rumor as hard truth, especially considering the ever-changing nature of game development, but SBMM (or skill-based matchmaking) has been rumored to be changing for a long time, and what's been revealed lines up with the expectations of many in the community. So, in this article, we'll explain everything need to know about the likely changes coming to SBMM in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II.
What Is SBMM and Why Does It Need to Change?
SBMM is the behind-the-scenes system that Call of Duty games use to match players against each other. SBMM has always existed in Call of Duty in some form, and Activision has never officially revealed much about the system in the way of formal details. Historically, this hasn't been a big deal, but that all changed with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019).
In Modern Warfare, SBMM was overhauled, and its new iteration has been present in Call of Duty: Warzone, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, and Call of Duty: Vanguard. The new SBMM system is much more aggressive than its older version in an attempt to make sure that gamers get matched up against fellow gamers of a similar skill-level so that nobody gets too frustrated and stops playing without indulging in a microtransaction or two.
On a surface level, this may not sound like a huge issue. This would be the case if the system actually did what it was designed to do. Unfortunately, SBMM is notoriously unreliable, punishing gamers with extremely tough lobbies immediately after the fact if they ever have a good game while following up especially bad games with overly easy lobbies to make players feel better.
This, in many player's eyes, makes your performance in-game feel like a predetermined conclusion and, thus, makes it extremely hard to improve or even feel good about a win, because there's always the knowledge in the back of your mind that the game's SBMM decided you should be in whatever game you're in for a reason that usually ties into your performance in the last few games you played.
As you might expect, this system hasn't been popular with fans, but Activision has been reluctant to change it since Call of Duty games have been so successful in the last couple of years. But since the failure of Call of Duty: Vanguard and the massive decrease in Warzone players, Activision clearly can sense that it's time for a change.
How SBMM Will Change in Modern Warfare II
Firstly, these changes are coming according to insider Ralph Valve who does have a history of accurate leaks; however, it's important to take any and all leaks with a grain of salt. According to Valve, SBMM is set to be overhauled in Modern Warfare II.
First, changes to SBMM are expected to make the system "less debilitating" for players that perform well (which likely means not just players with 'good stats' but any player who enjoys a good game or good series of games), so there'll be less of a sense, in general, that the game is deciding how your game is going to go based off whatever lobby it loads you into.
However, Valve was keen to note that Activision still fully intends to maintain a 'protected bracket' where especially low-performing players aren't paired with higher-skilled players, ruining the fun they could have when matched up against similarly-skilled opponents.
Valve also discussed how bot lobbies will likely be a part of Modern Warfare II but not in traditional 6v6 multiplayer, mind you. In Modern Warfare II, players in that protected bracket mentioned above may sometimes be put in lobbies with real players and bots. However, this is to be limited to the game's rumored DMZ mode, and it may also come to Warzone 2.
These changes come in addition to upgraded smurf detection where, in real-time, the game can monitor your performance to make sure that if you're manipulating the system you're removed from that particular lobby the game has placed you into. This likely is meant to combat the epidemic of Call of Duty fans making new accounts and boosting to try and circumvent SBMM.
Valve also discussed another extremely controversial change to more modern Call of Duty games: their lack of persistent lobbies, opting instead to disband lobbies after every match and put you back into the matchmaking queue. Unfortunately, Valve has heard from developers at Activision that disbanding lobbies are unlikely to go anywhere anytime soon as they're somehow essential to the functioning of SBMM in general.
Lastly, Valve discussed how and why SBMM has had so many issues in recent years. Apparently, Modern Warfare (2019) wasn't expected to be as successful as it was, so the technical underpinning of Modern Warfare wasn't developed enough to support such a massive playerbase with such large gaps in skill. Accordingly, Activision has devoted a ton of resources towards revamping the SBMM system for Modern Warfare II.