The Pros and Cons of Skill-Based Matchmaking in Fortnite

Skill-based matchmaking in Fortnite has been a topic of much debate among the community. Take a look at the argument for and against SBMM in Fortnite.

Epic recently added skill-based matchmaking (SBMM) to Fortnite, evening the playing field for both skilled and unskilled players. Now, extreme skill levels will no longer meet. Epic will keep the “sweaty” players in a lobby by themselves and the “bots” with… well… literal bots in low-level games.

There are pros and cons to the new skill-based matchmaking system, which need to be explored if Epic is considering implementing this across all modes. Let’s take a look at some of the arguments on both sides.

Pro: New player experience

The first argument for skill-based matchmaking has to be that new players will have a better experience with the game. New players and unskilled players won’t have the same trial-by-fire that they currently experience. Instead, they’ll be greeted by bots and players who haven’t been grinding Fortnite since 2017.

As much as the hardcore Fortnite players may hate it, Epic cares more about low-skilled, casual, returning, and new players more than they do about people who have been dedicated to this game for years.

They want growth, and in order for their game to grow they need to keep players pouring in. Fortnite is already the most punishing game on the market for new players. With SBMM, these players will at least have a chance to learn the game and get better without a Soccer Skin trap killing them.

Con: Skilled player experience

If the experience for the lower-skill Fortnite players improves, then the experience for the higher-skill players is going to suffer. Good players will be grouped together, which means fights will be more difficult once you start to raise your MMR (matchmaking ranking).

This is already the case in Solos. Players in the upper-levels are all turtling instantly when they get shot and tarping or tunneling when they need to move. Everyone is more hesitant to take fights. No one is a free kill anymore.

The confidence of the above-average players is at an all-time low. Someone who used to push every fight now second-guesses themselves. It’s Arena Mode without siphon or points.

Pro: No need for the BRUTE

The BRUTE is the biggest example of Epic catering to casual and low-skill players, but it’s far from the only time it has happened.

Ballers, Planes, Boom Boxes, Port-A-Forts, Junk Rifts, the Infinity Blade, the Homing Rocket – the list goes on and on. Epic repeatedly adds items, weapons, etc. in an attempt to even the playing field.

The mech was the most recent and most infuriating iteration of this, but it’s something that skill-based matchmaking could fix – at least, in theory. Epic’s argument for adding the BRUTE and keeping it in the game was that bad players were able to get more kills and have more fun. If everyone is grouped by skill, these bad players should be able to get kills without the help of a giant death machine.

Con: Queue times

Splitting the player pool based on MMR is going to make the queue times longer; there’s no getting around it. Epic is adding bots to help with the queue times in low-level play and have implemented forced cross-play to help lower queue times across the board.

As you can see from the screenshot above, that still isn’t going to be enough – especially during off-hours. A high-level player on NA East trying to game at 2 AM is going to have to wait a long time.

Short queue times have always been a strong point for Fortnite. Anyone who has played Overwatch recently knows how devastating a long queue time can be. 

More people are going to quit the game if the queue takes five minutes – that’s just a fact. Short queues are particularly important in battle royale games when you could die within seconds of landing. If that happens two or three times in a row and that player has to sit in a five-minute queue each time, they’re loading up Apex Legends.

Con: Forced cross-platform play

One of the ways Epic has lowered queue times is by implementing cross-platform play. There are now more players to draw from, which has lowered the queue time from what it would have been.

There are several problems with this, though. For starters, mobile players are playing with PC players. Their K/D, win rate, and all other stats could be the same, but it’s going to be far more difficult for a skilled mobile player to face a skilled PC player.

This is an extreme example of the problem, but it does happen. More frequently, though, PC and console players are facing off against one another, which is problematic as well. The topic of aim assist has split the community, and more cross-platform lobbies mean more toxicity on the topic of “controller aimbot.”

Aim assist aside, PC players have a massive advantage to all other platforms, and will dominate in cross-platform SBMM lobbies.

Con: Bot Hunting

Are you sick and tired of playing Arena without points or siphon? No problem! Just make another account and start playing with the bots.

Smurfing will always be a thing for games with a competitive mode. In the above post, Aydan was smurfing in Arena – not pubs. That’s going to happen, and Epic did ban him.

With SBMM, though, you can create endless accounts to get the bot hunting experience. All the bad players are in one location, now. In a low-level game, you don’t have to worry about running into someone better than you unless there’s another smurf in the lobby.

It’s impossible for Epic to keep up with and ban all of these accounts. They’re going to be there regardless, but they’ll be far more prevalent than they would be if SBMM wasn’t a mechanic

My Opinion on Skill-Based Matchmaking

I’m not a fan of skill-based matchmaking, as you can probably guess from the fact that there are more cons than pros in this article. I’ve played enough Solos to know that I don’t want this across all game modes, and I really do think it has the potential to be the death of Fortnite.

Do you still want those funny encounters and clips of streamers messing with bad players? Well, you won’t get them if SBMM takes over the whole game. 

I agreed with the idea of SBMM when it was first announced. It seemed like a logical step and a way to avoid things like the BRUTE from ever happening again. Unfortunately, after experiencing the non-stop sweat-fest that is SBMM Solos, I’ve changed my mind.

I don’t want to be on high-alert all of the time. I want to have fun and mess around – and I think a lot of people agree with that. Epic needs to strongly consider the downsides of SBMM before implementing it across all modes.

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