Apex Legends Director On Why Skill-Based Matchmaking Is Needed

"You want them to have a good experience," says creative director Chad Grenier on SBMM helping newer players.

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I recently had the chance to talk about everything new coming to Apex Legends with creative director Chad Grenier in light of EA Play 2020. Many huge announcements like a Switch version, cross-platform play, and the upcoming in-game event came out of the event, and we discussed them in further detail in the interview below. But I also asked about developer Respawn Entertainment's views on the state of skill-based matchmaking (SBMM) in the game.

To sum things up, Grenier and the team feel great about where the game's at, including its implementation of SBMM. He acknowledged that it's a hot topic for fans and within Respawn, and mentioned that they're aware of the feedback. He added, "There are multiple sides to the story. We're trying to evaluate all of the data and trying to do what's best for the game as a whole. It's really tough because you've got some beginner players or mediocre players, middle of the road, and you want them to have a good experience."

Grenier continued, "You want them to get into the game, get engaged, get some kills, get some wins occasionally because if someone comes in and they try out Apex and they get stumped, they're not going to keep playing the game." He does recognize what higher-tier players are saying, but concluded, "We say, okay, well these highly skilled players, they should play against other highly skilled players and be competitive. We don't want them just stomping all these beginners and then they have a bad experience, right? We're always trying to find that balance."

Based on data, Grenier stated that Apex Legends is experiencing the highest player count, player retention, and hours played per week ever since launch, and also said that Season 5: Fortune's Favor has been the most successful season thus far. He said, "That tells me that we have a healthy game. I understand there are still going to be some players who disagree about certain aspects of skill-based matchmaking. But if we just look at it holistically, everything is trending really well to a healthy Apex game that gets many years of support."

However, Grenier reiterated that Respawn is always paying attention to player feedback, saying, "How do we maintain that while still making all those competitive players happy, right? That's the discussion we have at Respawn because we want to make sure that those new players and the players who struggle to get wins are still having a good experience as well. That's why it's so tricky." He concluded, "We'll continue to tweak, iterate, listen. We're always tweaking things in the back in the matchmaking system. If people notice things are getting worse or better, speak up, because we're listening and we'd love to make it right for everybody if that's even possible."

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