Dev Letter: SMG Rebalance

The developers of PUBG: BATTLEGROUNDS have published a new blog in which they talk about the update of the balance of weapons in the game, which will take effect with the release of 30.1 Update.

Today's Dev Letter delves into the SMG Rebalance introduced through Gunplay Labs with Update 28.2. Following Gunplay Labs, we engaged in comprehensive discussions, analyzing the accumulated in-game metrics and the feedback provided in the survey.

For Update 30.1, our primary focus is to fine-tune each weapon within the SMG category, ensuring that each possesses unique characteristics. We believe that SMGs, with proper tuning, have the potential to cater to players of all skill levels, offering decent damage and low recoil. The JS9 on Rondo exemplified this potential, prompting us to rebalance SMGs to ensure they have distinct characteristics and improved effectiveness, rather than remaining as less favored options.

Through the Dev Letter: Gunplay 2023, we shared our plan to closely observe and develop non-mainstream weapons, ensuring each has a unique identity and functionality. The SMG Rebalance is part of this initiative, and we believe sharing our thought process is meaningful.

As part of our commitment to delivering gunplay updates that resonate with the community in 2024, we'd like to share our thoughts with you and elucidate how your valuable feedback was incorporated into Update 30.1.

Exploring the Intentions Behind Gunplay Labs

Previously, SMGs exhibited a kill rate of 2.2%, rendering them the least utilized weapons, excluding certain weapons like Handguns and the Crossbow. While this might vary on maps where SMGs see more frequent use, such as Sanhok, similar trends were observed when analyzing other metrics regarding maps, MMR segments, and phases. This data led us to recognize that the issue extended beyond a few specific weapons, indicating a need for adjustments across the entire SMG category.

Through Gunplay Labs, our aim was to adjust various aspects of most SMGs, such as movement speed, recoil, damage, and damage over distance, to determine if individual weapons needed rebalancing. However, we excluded weapons that already performed well within the SMG category, such as the JS9 and MP9. For the MP5K, we aimed to enhance its performance since its effectiveness varied with the number of attachments despite maintaining a decent usage rate.

Back in March, we sought to provide this context to the community when implementing updates to Gunplay Labs. Weapons are integral to PUBG gameplay, and our goal was to enable players from diverse backgrounds to experience the gunplay tweaks. Further more, we aimed to validate and fine-tune the SMG Rebalance through multiple channels, including proactive Arcade updates, community surveys, and discussions with key partners and Esports players. 

SMGs Post Gunplay Labs

In Gunplay Labs, the kill rate of SMGs increased from 2.2% to 18.3%, while the win rate ranged between 50% and 53%. These metrics indicated that Gunplay Labs fostered an environment conducive to gathering a significant amount of data for meaningful analysis, driven by players' interest in testing the gunplay adjustments. However, we analyzed these results with the understanding that they could be a temporary spike for testing purposes.

In the cases of the JS9 and MP9, which performed well without individual tweaks, player perception appeared to be a significant factor. Given that they maintained their performance post-rebalancing, we felt that no further adjustments were necessary. As for the Vector, both its usage rate and win percentage surged in Gunplay Labs. Acknowledging its unique characteristic of extremely high RPMs alongside high recoil, we decided against further enhancing it. It appeared that any additional buffs would only cater to skilled players, so we're keeping the Vector at its current performance level, allowing it to retain its distinct strengths and weaknesses.

While we've worked to enhance the unique features of SMGs, we recognize the importance of maintaining balance across weapon categories. We aimed to ensure that SMGs do not overshadow ARs and DMRs, which offer greater versatility in medium to long-range engagements and require a higher learning curve. As a result, we focused on the kill metric based on distance. Previously, SMGs shared the same damage falloff formula as ARs, which posed a risk of making SMGs overpowered even at distances exceeding 100m, especially in light of the SMG Rebalance. The JS9 prior to the nerfs served as a prime example of this risk, prompting us to modify the effective distance of SMGs in Update 30.1 to maintain balance across all ranges. These adjustments are particularly noticeable at distances of 50 meters and beyond.

Furthermore, we boosted the movement speed while wielding SMGs to accentuate their distinctive characteristics. The increased movement speed, matching that of being unarmed, will further emphasize the lightweight nature of SMGs. This change will also give SMGs an advantage over other weapon categories in engagements.

In response to feedback regarding ammo availability discrepancies compared to ARs and DMRs, we standardized the ammo used by all world-spawned SMGs to 9mm. This adjustment will make it more convenient to find ammo in the world, and it should be relatively easy to acquire the necessary ammo in the later phases of the game if SMG usage increases. Additionally, you'll benefit from the lighter weight of 9mm rounds compared to .45 ACP.

What's Next

Even after the official introduction of the SMG Rebalance, your engagement and insights continue to be invaluable to us. As we've promised bi-monthly gunplay updates this year, we aim to promptly address your feedback. Depending on player responses, a follow-up update for the SMG Rebalance may be implemented within the next month or two.

Remaining attentive to your feedback, we are dedicated to our proactive approach to continuous improvement. Looking forward, our goal is to cultivate an even more engaging and dynamic gunplay experience, introducing new avenues for play and learning. We are planning significant updates across various weapon categories in the future, leveraging the foundation laid by Gunplay Labs.

Stay tuned for further discussions on how we can enhance future Gunplay Labs to better cater to your needs and gather broader input.