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A contentious Call Of Duty: Warzone app let players manipulate SBMM

Warzone
(Image credit: Activision)

A third-party Call Of Duty: Warzone app for flagging cheaters has been forced to make sweeping changes, after players started abusing the tool to manipulate the game's skill-based matchmaking (SBMM).

Amongst its various analytics features, Warzone Companion tries to flag cheaters by displaying the K/D ratio of every player of all players in a lobby—giving folks a chance to back out before being stuck in a game with bad actors. But that transparency also meant you could ditch a match if you felt there was an unfavourable player-pool.

XSETgaming's Jared took to Twitter earlier this week, reckoning that the potential for tournament exploits and stream-sniping "ruins the game completely".

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Warzone Companion's developer, COD Stats, this week told Eurogamer that a recent patch has made significant changes to how the app operates. Player stats now won't be shown until after the pre-match lobby closes, while various stats are now displayed as relative figures rather than exact stats. 

Still, that reshuffle has also somewhat neutered the app's ability to flag cheaters—a problem Warzone continues to struggle with. There's demand for a tool like this, and Companion's creators are looking to find a way to call out cheaters without giving away too much information.

"By understanding the importance of discussion we decided to make a change in our app to cut the place for any kind of abuse," COD Stats owner Dmitry Shymko said. "Information about lobby players will be shown only after the warm-up, and the average lobby K/D value will be displayed only at the end of the match.

"I believe that it still can be a good idea to leave at least information about who is a potential cheater during warm-up but for now, we want to have more feedback from users and what do they think about this option."

SBMM has been a particularly sore spot for the Call Of Duty community since at least the Black Ops Cold War Alpha. Companion might not have let players avoid matchmaking entirely, but it did let them stacks the cards—ducking out of the odd spike in opponent skill while favouring rounds that placed them near the top of the skill bracket. It's a good deal of micromanagement to go through just to avoid a bad match, and one whose ultimate effects may have been somewhat overblown by this heated SBMM moment the Call Of Duty community is currently having.

Natalie Clayton

20 years ago, Nat played Jet Set Radio Future for the first time—and she's not stopped thinking about games since. Joining PC Gamer in 2020, she comes from three years of freelance reporting at Rock Paper Shotgun, Waypoint, VG247 and more. Embedded in the European indie scene and having herself developed critically acclaimed small games like Can Androids Pray, Nat is always looking for a new curiosity to scream about—whether it's the next best indie darling, or simply someone modding a Scotmid into Black Mesa. She's also played for a competitive Splatoon team, and unofficially appears in Apex Legends under the pseudonym Horizon.