Call of Duty 2021 leak just revealed a hated feature could return

call of duty SBMM
(Image credit: Activision)

Call of Duty players looking to pick up the newest installment in the franchise this year are in for more of the same when it comes to multiplayer. The series' controversial skill-based matchmaking (SBMM) is said to be coming back for the third year in a row.

The tip comes from a Call of Duty leaker Tom Henderson, who delved into reports that the game will take place in an alternate universe WW2 that "doesn't end." This opens up the door for all kinds of fresh takes on the gameplay, with the devs not constricted by the need for historical accuracy.  

In the thread, Henderson tells his followers to "keep in mind that this game will have SBMM," which he's clearly not a fan of — and neither is the community at large. SBMM first rolled out in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, as well as its free-to-play battle royale spinoff, Call of Duty: Warzone. 

While SBMM works out great for new players, matching them with other fresh-faced shooter fans, veteran players are less enthused. The critique is that the feature should be saved for ranked play, and not casual multiplayer where it can spoil the fun somewhat. 

Last year's Black Ops Cold War also relies on SBMM, although Treyarch's Martin Donlon says Call of Duty SBMM is only "one of many many tuneable parameters in a matchmaking system." In a Twitter thread last year, Donlon revealed that SBMM has been present in a number of Call of Duty titles over the years, with SBMM just being a single component of how the system matches players. 

To what extent it will be present in Call of Duty 2021, Henderson didn't say, but it's likely that SBMM will be utilised to some degree, given its presence in so many CoD titles over the years. 

Of course, if you're feeling put off, you can always give Battlefield 6 some consideration. While CoD is staying somewhat rooted in the past — albeit an alternative timeline — Battlefield 6 is bringing the game back to a more modern setting. 

Both titles are expected to launch around the holiday 2021 window, so you've got plenty of time to decide which one is for you.

Shabana Arif

Shabana is T3's News Editor covering tech and gaming, and has been writing about video games for almost a decade (and playing them since forever). As well as contributing to Tom's Guide, she's had bylines at major gaming sites during her freelance career before settling down at T3, and has podcasts, streaming, and video content under her belt to boot. Outside of work, she also plays video games and should really think about expanding her hobbies.