The Two Sides Of Skill-Based Matchmaking

by Ido Vadavker

The recently added skill-based matchmaking system (SBMM) to Fortnite, balanced the playing field for both skilled and unskilled players. The system makes sure each player will jump into a game with enemies the same skill as his. With the addition of bots, every Chapter 2 Fortnite player gets a different battle royale experience and not everyone is happy with that.

Novice players are having a blast

Epic is known for optimizing Fortnite’s gaming experience for casual players, frequently adding items and weapons to balance the playing field (The B.R.U.T.E is an excellent example of that). The new system is the latest effort made by them to create more enjoyment for low-skilled gamers.

These players are having the time of their lives facing bots and getting more kills, without a chance of stumbling into an opponent who has been grinding Fortnite since 2017. It also means new players could learn the game, improve, and have much more fun doing so.

The pros aren’t satisfied

While the less experienced gamers are pleased with the change, many above-average players labeled the game as “ruined” because of this new addition.
Grouping good players together makes them “sweat” (try really hard to win) even when they are not playing Arena (Fortnite’s ranked mode) or aren’t looking to play in a competitive environment. Also, the bots are way too easy to beat so they ruin the experience (but more on that later).

This change of pace created a new wave of ‘Smurfing’ (when a highly skilled player uses another account to face lower-level players), which led Epic to announce that they will take appropriate action against players who are “negatively impacting other players’ experiences”.

Queue times, bots and cross-play

Separating the player’s base by skill was supposed to make queue times longer. To solve this issue, two more features were introduced: bots and forced cross-play.

Less-experienced players could expect games with a large number of bots, and as the skill level goes up, fewer bots will be found. Like the SBMM system, players had different reactions to the implementation of bots. New and returning players loved the option to dominate fights while more competent players felt like they didn’t “earn” their kills.

Forcing cross-play also caused a massive upset among non-PC players. While you can still turn off cross-play for solos on Xbox and Playstation, in other cases, cross-play is inevitable. The advantage PC players have over console players is obvious. Things like higher FPS and the ability to swap weapons without cycling give PC players the upper hand in most firefights. And we didn’t even talk about mobile and Switch players.


In spite of the protests, the new matchmaking system is here to stay. And as much as the hardcore Fortnite fans may hate it, Epic are aiming for growth and they care more about the causal gamers. Everybody will have to embrace it for now and hopefully, after considering the downsides of SBMM, the necessary adjustments will be made. The bots are already in stages of “learning” the game and could provide a more significant challenge in the future.

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