The Daily Grind: Should MMOs ever retire classes?

Last week, I asked the Massively OP readers whether World of Warcraft needed another class (I want the Bard, obviously). But one Facebook fan proposed something different entirely: Why not “retire a few classes” to “keep it fresh?”

I suspect that nearly everyone reading is recoiling in horror at the thought of deleting classes from MMOs, which is exactly why I wanted to stare the concept full in the face to sort out why. MMO developers seem to have few qualms about retooling classes — your characters — to be almost unrecognizable from their original versions, applying band-aid after band-aid to make them functional and keep them around. Would it really be so bad to nuke them entirely and start from scratch with something built from the ground up?

Yes, say thousands of Star Wars Galaxies Bio-Engineers and Creature Handlers. I hear you. But what if they’d done it more gracefully and replaced them more immediately with something, as the commenter put it, “fresh,” as opposed to nuking them overnight and replacing them with nothing?

Should MMOs ever retire classes? Can you think of acceptable circumstances for such a thing?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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48 Comments on "The Daily Grind: Should MMOs ever retire classes?"

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shazanti
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shazanti

Retire? No. No no no no NO. Even if it’s a class I hate. A class I would never play myself, absolutely hate playing with/against, hate every single encounter with… the response is still an unequivocal no. I’ve been ‘retired’ (my poor Creature Handler who I never logged into post-NGE since I could not bear it, for one), and despite hating a class, and even disliking individual players, I would never wish that ‘character killing’ upon anyone, friend or enemy. If ‘keeping a game fresh’ involves destroying an aspect of it that is tied so closely with a player’s investment in the game, then that’s a game I wish no part of.

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Schmidt.Capela

Retire a class in a game that has already released and I’d most likely leave the game immediately, as well as add the dev and publisher to the list of companies I don’t trust at all.

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Mr Poolaty

FFXIV god game needs to retire classes!!

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Rolan Storm

I like the idea. Even more so when it comes to complete overhaul. Really, instead of giving me something I hardly know just honestly admit that class is broken and should be deleted. Mistake. That happens.

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Robert Mann

First, a different suggestion: new specs. Instead of adding more classes, put in specs on the traditional ones. This is specifically focused on the WoW example, but applies in most themepark MMOs. For example, Rogues could become bards now too. Warriors could gain a swashbuckler style. Mages could wield the powers of Earth to crush their foes. Etc.

Messing with classes was where Blizzard lost a lot of people (not to mention the insulting tone often used by them in the forums about the topic.) Specifically they removed entire play styles, stopped support for some popular mechanics as it “wasn’t their vision” and some other B.S. reasons (which were demonstrated B.S. by the community even to the point of word definitions)… and that’s never a good thing.

Simply put, people play what they play the way they play for a reason. Sometimes it is because it is new or interesting to them, such as rolling an alt who is a different class than they have ever played in that game. At other times it is because they like what they have and they don’t want to change.

Anytime you decide to change, without very good reason, the way the classes play you invite disaster. There’s always going to be those who liked the playstyle. It might not be extremely popular (probably because min/max shows it not working out well) but there will be people who will be upset and ready to quit over the point.

Thus changing classes (while it sometimes should be done) must be considered with caution. Especially if the class features a niche playstyle that is not seen in most other classes.

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adri

It would be horrible if they just delete specific classes without any substitution. I imagine myself in the situation and it’s not a pleasure to lose my maincharacter. I think I would no longer play the game if they delete a class I’m really into.

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quark1020

It wouldn’t be so bad so long as the skill trees or whatever system they replace it with lets me recreate the class I used to love. If they just delete the entire thing without anything to replace, though, that IS horrible. Ask any pre-nge Galaxies player.

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Dread Quixadhal

What would be fun is if they didn’t remove classes, but prevented you from rolling new characters with them.

However, for this to be useful and not just annoying, you’d have to introduce new classes on a regular basis. The idea being, you have more classes in the game than character slots available, and every so often, some classes become legacy and others take their place as new things.

From a lore point of view, imagine the trainers all left for some unknown reason, or went on strike or whatever. This would have made more sense back when you had to actually visit your trainers to learn new skills.

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Connor

You could probably get away with an Ultima-style story. where the corrupting influence of the Guardian drove the mages in the world insane.

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Dreema

If there’s one thing guaranteed to make me quit a game, it’s my favourite class being retired because someone who doesn’t play it thinks that keeps the game “fresh”.

Facebook poster: you need a good slap.

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imayb1

The only way I could see it work for “retiring” a class would be to remove it from the new charaction choices and give [reasons]. Maybe as a class balance technique or a reverse-psychology thing to inflate desire to play the class? Maybe temporary class-availablility, musical-chairs style. Idk.

I do know that you cannot permanently take away a class and expect any kinds of accolades for doing so. Rage, though, that you could expect. ;p

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Doubleplusgood

I would probably quit an MMO if it was announced one of my characters would be retired. Although I guess it depends what they offered in replacement.