Does Modern Warfare 3 have skill-based matchmaking? MW3 SBMM explained

Max Candelarezi
MW3 Operator in FavelaActivision

The multiplayer lobbies can be intense in Modern Warfare 3, thanks to the matchmaking system. If you’re wondering about the SBMM feature being available in the title, here’s all you need to know about whether MW3 has skill-based matchmaking.

Modern Warfare 3 Season 1 Reloaded is nearing its final few days, much to the excitement of Call of Duty fans around the world, who are gearing up for the release of Season 2. The mid-season update brought two new weapons, that are quickly emerging as some of the best weapons to carry in the multiplayer.

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Apart from this, the devs also introduced several balance changes, and after a day’s delay, introduced Ranked Play in MW3. While you’re mostly put into lobbies that are evenly matched in terms of skill in Ranked Play, many in the community are curious about the matchmaking system in regular multiplayer modes.

So, here’s everything to know about whether MW3 has SBMM and how the matchmaking works in the game.

Does Modern Warfare 3 have SBMM?

Yes, Modern Warfare 3 has SBMM in its multiplayer.

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However, just like with previous CoD games, the MW3 SBMM system has been the subject of tons of debate and discussion within the game’s community. Modern Warfare 3’s SBMM system, in particular, has been criticized and referred to as restrictive by many in the community.

During the game’s launch, former Call of Duty pros Scump, claimed that it felt “worse than any other year.” Most recently, the devs responded and confirmed that skill, alongside latency, search time, and other factors, plays a huge role in MW3 matchmaking.

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How does SBMM work in MW3?

SBMM stands for Skill-based matchmaking, and your skill in MW3 is determined by your number of kills, deaths, wins, losses, and more, as confirmed by the official blog. Your skill not only determines the enemies you’ll be pitted against, but also the skill level of your teammates.

MW3 Matchmaking processActivision
Your skill, connection stability, and ping are some of the top factors that determine your matchmaking experience in MW3.

Several other factors determine your matchmaking experience as well:

  • Connection: Most important element in the matchmaking process, as “Ping is King.”
  • Time to Match: The system aims to avoid long queue times.
  • Platform: Which device you’re playing on, whether it’s a PC or console
  • Voice Chat: Enabled or disabled.
  • Input Device: Mouse and keyboard or controller.
  • Recent Maps/Modes: Mode preferences in Quick Play settings and recently played maps.
  • Playlist Diversity: Playlists available for you to choose from.

The primary goal of SBMM in any game is to ensure that game lobbies are as evenly matched as possible, reducing the odds of a casual player facing an overwhelmingly skilled opponent and, therefore, theoretically improving the experience for all players.

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Despite its theoretical advantages, SBMM has caused significant controversy, with many arguing that the system penalizes skilled players by placing them in more challenging lobbies. However, the devs have analyzed the data and want to make it a better experience for lower-skilled players who are repeatedly losing their matches and quitting the game entirely.

The blog also addressed the concern of challenging or sweaty lobbies and the devs will continue to monitor the data to improve the experience of higher-skilled players.

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Regardless of where you stand on SBMM, it’s expected this feature will continue to be included in Modern Warfare 3 multiplayer onwards, making its removal unlikely in the near future.

For more on Modern Warfare 3, be sure to check out our other guides:

How to get MGB Tactical Nuke Killstreak in MW3 | When is Ranked Play coming to Modern Warfare 3? | Can you slide cancel in Modern Warfare 3? | Modern Warfare 3 War mode explained | Modern Warfare 3 Zombies Zones explained | Modern Warfare 3 Cutthroat game mode explained

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