Many Call of Duty MW3 players believe that this year’s game could be the best in years, but that SBMM is a major threat to the title’s lifespan.

‘SBMM is going to kill this game.’ Sound familiar? That’s because it’s what Call of Duty fans say year after year when a new title launches.

But what exactly is SBMM and what does it mean for Modern Warfare 3?

What Is SBMM?

SBMM stands for Skill-Based Matchmaking, a feature that aims to pair players up with others at their skill level.

The aim of the feature is to ensure that weaker players don’t end up in high-skill lobbies. Instead, all players will face off against those of a similar level of skill.

mw3 lobby operators dropping in

In theory, this sounds like a good thing. But many players aren’t happy with the system as it currently stands.

Why Is SBMM Going to ‘Kill’ COD?

Many COD fans believe that Skill-Based Matchmaking is a bad thing, because they prefer how lobbies used to focus on connection-based matchmaking.

“Every single game is a sweatfest,” Reddit user ivory_tusks writes. “I’m in lobbies with iridescent ranked players, bunny hopping, slide cancelling, meta weapons, yet everyone has around a 1.0 kd”

SBMM Killing MW3

Back in the original MW2 and Black Ops games, lobbies were more varied, leading to a mixture of skill levels in each match.

And while SBMM is important for lower-skill or newer players, it becomes frustrating for those who are more experienced.

“SBMM is going to make sure that every game, you’re going to have to try extremely hard because no matter what skill level you are, you will be playing players about your level. You can’t just f*ck around and play casually, because if you don’t play your level, you will simply get destroyed.”


Skill-Based Matchmaking Pros and Cons


  • New and lower-skill players don’t get put in lobbies where they can’t get a single kill, therefore leading to a better experience and a healthy player base
  • Games are ‘fair,’ as they’re balanced with users of the same skill level
  • Activision is clearly seeing higher player retention with SBMM, as evidenced by the fact that it refuses to remove the feature or comment on its inclusion


  • Players can’t enjoy popping off one game, as they will then be placed into harder lobbies
  • In order to balance teams, sometimes SBMM relies on one player to carry the whole team
  • Lower-skill users who party up with higher-skill friends will have a bad time in their skill bracket
  • High-skill players feel like they need to use meta loadouts and ‘sweat’ hard every game, as that’s what the rest of the lobby is doing
  • If there are few players at your skill level in your area, your connection may be worse as MW3 tries to match you with those further out
  • Player hatred of SBMM leads to some trying to tank their skill rating by deliberately losing games, ruining those matches for other users.
MW3 Multiplayer Operator with Assault Rifle

Will Activision Change SBMM?

No, Activision will not change the way that SBMM works, in both MW3 and likely even Call of Duty titles moving forward.

Each and every year, we see the exact same posts claiming that SBMM will kill this year’s COD title. Yet year after year, Call of Duty is one of the best-selling games worldwide, and Activision can clearly see the system working.

Skill-Based Matchmaking is, after all, something that benefits very casual Call of Duty players. And if they’re having more fun in lobbies, they’re more inclined to buy skins, Battle Passes and, yes, even next year’s game.

Actvision also outright refuses to discuss SBMM, even when asked about the feature at in-person events. It is not about to start discussing it, or adjusting it, for a game that’s already here.

Managing Editor
Max has a wealth of experience in the industry and is a lover of all things video games, situated in Manchester, United Kingdom.
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