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XDefiant’s SBMM abandonment is key to avoid a “stale experience”

XDefiant's lack of SBMM is a hit decision with players, and Ubisoft's Mark Rubin explains the "morality" behind it in a new interview.

XDefiant SBMM: An image of an operator in XDefiant.

XDefiant is so close that we can practically smell the ash and debris of firefights on the horizon. Ahead of the game’s launch, Ubisoft executive producer Mark Rubin delves into what FPS fans can expect. Specifically, Rubin touches upon the game’s biggest creative decision, as XDefiant SBMM won’t be implemented into the shooter.

From acclaimed battle royale games like Warzone to its multiplayer game counterpart Modern Warfare 3, SBMM remains controversial in the FPS game community. However, it isn’t set to be part of XDefiant, as Rubin explains in a new developer diary that “the thing with all that [SBMM], besides the whole morality of it, is that I think it creates a stale experience.”

Rubin adds that games with SBMM often lead to situations where “you keep playing against the same exact people […] you lose out on all the fun variety that I think a lot of the old school shooters had.” Instead, the forthcoming shooter will use a different methodology for matchmaking, prioritizing your internet speed above all else. This will differ for the game’s Ranked playlists, however, this mode won’t be present when XDefiant launches on Tuesday, May 21, 2024.

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In 2022, Rubin expressed that “you should be in a match that has players better than you and worse than you […] the experience, then, is more varied and as long as the team balancing is fair… you still have a chance to win your match”. Skill-based matchmaking has risen to prominence in recent years, as rival shooters like the aforementioned Call of Duty franchise have pressed players harder than ever in multiplayer lobbies.

The debate about its merits and shortfalls especially became rampant during the Black Ops Cold War era of COD, continuing into Modern Warfare 2 and Modern Warfare 3 respectively. Other shooters like Respawn’s Apex Legends have introduced balanced tweaks relating to SBMM in previous updates, and even the likes of Fall Guys have weighed in on the situation.

Whether this gives XDefiant the boost it needs to become a hit remains to be seen, but it will take more than ditching SBMM to stand a chance against its genre rivals.

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In related XDefiant news, you can check out our chat with Mark Rubin about the game’s goal to not be a ‘Call of Duty killer’, and how its maps will take you to places “you wouldn’t expect” in the future.