Apex Legends players are growing increasingly weary of the game’s matchmaking, it seems.
Currently, the main contentious issue appears to revolve around the unannounced implementation of skill-based matchmaking (SBMM). The feature – commonplace in competitive PvP titles – has existed in the battle royale ever since Respawn introduced ranked play not long after launch and serves to ensure that players of near-equal footing get matched against each other. In practice, the system serves to prevent newcomers or the inexperienced from getting matched with top-tier slayers, but while it’s a welcome addition in those playlists, the same can’t be said for casual modes.
Having suspected as much for a number of months, Respawn recently confirmed that SBMM has been present in the latter for some time, a revelation that’s promptly led to a number of fans voicing their complaints on social media.
yeah, but as you can imagine in a game with 59 other players, your skill level has an impact on more players in a single match than many other titles. If you think your games are sweaty now, how do you think it feels when someone new doesn’t have any SBMM, haha. It’s rough
— Eric Hewitt / Ghost (@GH057ayame) November 24, 2019
The crux of the problem? Unlike ranked, players of all skill levels use casual for that exact purpose – to have a chilled-out session of Apex where perfectly focused play isn’t required. However, because both modes now rely on SBMM, talented players have found themselves unable to have a carefree experience and are instead forced into a lobby against ‘sweaty’ opponents.
Not an ideal situation, then, but senior Apex Legends system designer Eric Hewitt has taken to defending the change on Twitter, telling one critic that “If you think your games are sweaty now, how do you think it feels when someone new doesn’t have any SBMM, haha. It’s rough.”
Ultimately, the developer has found itself between a rock and a hard place. If it were to remove SBMM from casual, then the new player experience would likely suffer as a result. Leave it as is, on the other hand, and hardcore audiences will likely tire of having to always be at their best for fear of losing. Can an acceptable equilibrium be found? Let’s hope so, for everyone’s sake.