Black Ops Cold War SBMM test shows some harsh realities

Nicholas Sakadelis

A test on the Black Ops Cold War skill-based matchmaking system shows some grim data for skilled players.

In a test conducted by YouTubers JGOD, Drift0r, TheXclusiveAce, and S0ur, some alarming conclusions were found regarding the skill-based matchmaking system in Black Ops Cold War.

Using data points across multiple accounts with varying skill levels, the group was able to draw a few conclusions on the matchmaking algorithm. The results may surprise some.

What is skill-based matchmaking?

Skill-based matchmaking is the term coined for the matchmaking system in video games that strategically puts players of similar skill levels in the same game.

In most games, this system is only applied to ranked modes but sometimes are also included in the regular public matchmaking pool.

In Call of Duty specifically, there is more of a performance/engagement-based matchmaking, where the game will flex match by match, putting you in games of varying skill level depending on your past matches’ performance. This is most likely why players can feel like games get easier if they perform worse.

Skill Based Matchmaking test results

Three major conclusions were drawn for this test, which mostly impacts the highest percentile of players. If you’re the best of the best, these results will likely be something you come in contact with.

Firstly, the group found that connection is impacted by player skill, which is different from the previous Call of Duty titles.

Normally, the matchmaking algorithm puts player connection over every single parameter, but from the testing conducted, ping was raised by 50% in some cases just because the account used had a higher score per minute and K/D ratio. (Among other stats)

You can see the data in the graph below, where the rightmost bar on each graph is the main account of each respective content creator, compared to their test accounts of lower skill.

Secondly, it was found that higher skilled players in the top percentile are actually much more likely to match with players under their skill level due to the scarcity of players on the same level.

Unfortunately, due to the discrepancy caused in team averages due to the high-tier player, the matchmaking is likely to place the game’s worst players on the same team as the best player.

This means that in many instances, top-tier players will not taste victory unless they do some serious work for their team, which seems to be the stem of frustration for these specific players. Other than that specific percentile, though, the vast majority is most likely to play evenly matched games against their average skill level players.

Lastly, as stated by TheXclusiveAce, it was found that Black Ops Cold War’s “Skill based matchmaking system” is more-so an “engagement based matchmaking system” that adjusts based on player performance on a game to game basis, in an effort to keep players hooked for as long as possible.

It will give you easier games and harder games, depending on how you’ve been performing as a player.

If you’d like to watch the full study by all the content creators, we’ve included links to all of the videos made by JGOD, Drift0r, and TheXclusiveAce. S0ur has yet to make a video, and we will link it if he does.