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Why SBMM sucks


Sanctuary legend
I came upon this "article" about Skill-based- match making (SBMM). It had a subtitle "The debate over SBMM will likely never die".

But there's no debate. SBMM is horrible, and I very much doubt that there's any possible argument to the contrary that withstands scrutiny.

To illustrate: What types of games do you play? What difficulty levels do you play those games on? Do you always play every game on the hardest possible difficulty? Would you enjoy it every game adapted to your level and made it as difficult as possible for you, so that every minor victory you earn, you just barely grasp by the skin of your teeth? Would you like it if every game you played was the Dark Souls of [genre]?

No? You wouldn't like that at all? Sometimes you just want to relax and unwind, and not raise your heartrate to exercise levels every time you play a game?

There we go, that's why SBMM is bad. When games implement this, and when they force it on everyone, that's what every game becomes. The algorithm makes it so that you have to try your hardest to win in every single match. You can't just join a server and play, no servers don't exist anymore, you have to be paired up with people who are specifically chosen based on their probability of crushing you. Want to relax and just pwn some n00bs? Too bad, that's not an option anymore. This game isn't for relaxing. Casual mode? Nah, this is Ranked Hardcore Competitive mode 24/7 and you can't switch out of it.

What PR statements do companies give when justifying SBMM? They say that it makes it more fair for everyone, and they prevent the case where little Jimmy no-thumbs can play with other thumb-less wretches and all have fun at their own skill level. Well golly, that's so great for them, but EVERYONE ELSE LOSES! The majority of people, who do have thumbs, are forced to play Dark Souls and experience what the handicapped must feel on a daily basis. And that's "fair". Handicapping everyone is "fair". Chopping off everyone's thumbs so that everyone is on an equal level is "fair". But it's also a stupid thing to do for reasons that should be obvious.

"Fair" isn't always fun. Sometimes you want to play Dynasty Warriors. Sometimes you want to play Dark Souls. Sometimes you turn the difficulty up to hard, and sometimes you turn it down to easy. There isn't one objective way to have "fun". There is no perfect pasta sauce.

What game companies are doing, what they are always doing, is just distilling everything down to the least common denominator. It has to appeal to "everyone", where "everyone" just means "the common scrub", not "the veteran who knows what they're talking about", since there are more of the former than the latter. The common scrub doesn't even know what SBMM is, and it's the only thing he knows, probably because he is 13 and is not old enough to know what a server browser even is.

The common scrub is the plurality, not the majority. They are bigger than any other group, but they are not the "hardcore" audience. There are many different types of gamers: The dads who only have a short time to play, the stoners who just want to relax, the tryhards/sweats, the groups of friends who just use it as a way to hang out, etc. Not all of these people care equally about ranking up, improving, and becoming pros. Most of these people, I imagine, don't care about their rank at all.

I used to be a 13-year-old tryhard. I used to want to win and be the best. I still do sometimes, but that's not my only definition of "fun", nor was it ever. Nowadays, I don't have the energy for that anymore. Tournaments don't interest me. Playing "Ranked" modes don't interest me. Call of Duty doesn't interest me. CoD might still interest the common scrub, but it doesn't interest me and people like me anymore. We're done, and we're leaving for other games where we can control our experience.

Let's go back to the old way of just having servers, and let's let everyone else choose the experience that they want to have, rather than trying to force people to conform to one definition of fun.


Brother Sharp
Sanctuary legend
Sanctuary contributor
Cookmaster supreme
At first I read this as "Why SSBM sucks" and I was curious about why Houseman was going to bash on Super Smash Bros. Melee. However I do agree with the post, I play games for fun at this point, I don't need everything to be a tryhard grueling experience. I'm just trying to unwind after a work day.


Staff member
The (general) death of dedicated server clients is something I'm still pissed about it, but that's another topic for another time.

What do you think of a separate playlist for non-SBMM play, OP? Are you against all forms of SBMM play or only when you're forced into it?


I guess this is one of those things where it is better designed as an option as opposed to a requirement.

Smash 4, Smash Ultimate, Yo-Kai Watch 3 and Team Fortress 2 have the right idea of making casual matchmaking completely seperate from Ranked or official competitive. Some of their execution was better than others, of course.