The return of skill-based matching, or SBMM, to Destiny 2‘s main PvP mode was confirmed by Bungie yesterday. Matchmaking adjustments will be made, including the inclusion of “loose SBMM” to the Control playlist at the start of Season 18 on August 23, according to a This Week at Bungie blog article. This is “the initial version” of more extensive matchmaking revamp that will last through Season 19.
The lengthy document goes into great depth about why this change is required, probably in anticipation of the anticipated reaction from PvP tryhards. In it, Bungie emphasizes how wide the gap is between the top and bottom players using the existing connection-based matchmaking mechanism. The startling statistic is this: “In Control, the skill gaps within a team can be stark—over 50% of matches have a skill disparity of at least 900 between the best and worst player, which is so big that the result is already decided before a single shot is fired.”
The skill number being discussed here is a secret statistic kept by Bungie, which appears to account for everything from kills, deaths, and round victories to loadouts (down to any mods you may have worn) and reaction times. On a 2,000-point scale, Bungie claims that “there is practically zero probability for the lower-skilled player to ever win a 1v1 fight after you get to a difference of 600.”
SBMM was previously turned on in Control and other Destiny 2 PvP modes. Due in part to Destiny 2’s usage of peer-to-peer connections rather than dedicated servers, it caused controversy at the time. The decision to prioritize skill over connection quality frequently resulted in lag, player teleportation, and missed shots. Longer queue times affected players at both the highest and lowest ends of the skill spectrum. Having said that, I also got the impression that influencers who make a living by compiling killstreaks in PvP versus less experienced players were somewhat to blame for the backlash. Against players of equivalent level, flashy pub stomps with new, seasonal weapons are far more difficult.