The Daily Grind: How often should MMOs release new classes?

Some MMOs seem to have no problem with tossing in new classes like candy, while others might see an addition roughly every time Halley’s Comet comes calling. I was thinking about this the other day, wondering what it is about some of these smaller games that allows them to keep throwing in more classes while other MMOs seem to act as if creating a class is such a herculean effort that if one is ever crafted, it would require the sacrifice of an entire orphanage of innocent souls.

Games like World of Warcraft and Lord of the Rings Online aren’t exactly well-known for chucking in new classes. On the other hand, this summer we’ve seen the Warden come to Elder Scrolls Online and both the Red Mage and Samurai arrive in Final Fantasy XIV. Even Diablo III just introduced an entire $15 DLC pack that was essentially the privilege of playing the first class since the game’s sole expansion.

How often should MMOs release new classes? Would you like to see them more often or should they be reserved for the rare expansion?

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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54 Comments on "The Daily Grind: How often should MMOs release new classes?"

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Chris Brown-DeMoreno

I’d say once a year. If it’s a game that does the trinity, 3 classes a year (preferably all in the same expansion), one for each of the three primary roles.

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Siri

I think mmo’s should come out with a new class every expansion to keep it fresh. ffxi and ffxiv did a wonderful job in this respect. Swtor has not had a new class since launch and I don’t see any new classes on the horizon, sad.

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Bhima Jenkins

Depends on the game and the scope of each class (if they are very narrow focused, with limited skills ala a MOBA, new classes should be frequent). Larger MMOs should have a new class every few years to really shake up the meta. I think once a year might be a bit too ambitious, and leads to serious balancing complexity in larger MMOs so, once every 2 years sounds about right.

The other concern when adding new classes: How respectful of a player’s time is the game? Is everything you do in the game completely character based and not account based? If so, adding another class will likely just completely frustrate most alt-aholics simply because the game design just doesn’t respect the player’s time. I’m looking squarely at you, Neverwinter.

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jay

MMO’s should get rid of classes all together and go the old school route. That which you do in game, levels the abilities tied to those activities. IE if you run around in heavy armor with a great sword, your skill with those increases, which unlocks further abilities tied to that weapon and armor set.

Then they don’t have to worry about releasing new classes ever =) Just new weapons > skills > content.

Tamanous
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Tamanous

Class based gaming is pretty damn old school itself. They make different types of games. You lose just as much as you gain by choosing either way. I explained this below. Having both styles of games adds more to the landscape that only doing one.

We also see hybrids now anyway. ESO is one and my examples given for Camelot Unchained is a hybrid as well. They will have many classes and many new introduced often but the construction of your abilities is entirely skill based. You just have unique core elements based on class. I believe some components that shape how spells work are shared across classes. Class and realm identity is a big part of the game however. Roles are a big part of the role play (which is what role play means in rpg and not just digital cosplay which is cringe worthy to most).

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Little Bugbear

I think it is important to get new classes in when a game can. Keeps things fresh and new.

Tamanous
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Tamanous

I don’t think it really matters how fast they do it if done right. Black Desert does it quite often and the only real issue is their damn gender lock based on Korean interests. Seems like most over there prefer to play female characters so they outnumber male choices by quite a bit.

Fast release classes tend to be very one dimensional (like BDO) which is why new classes for games like Wow or other triple spec clone games (like Swtor) can’t release as easily due to complexity and multi-roles. I know Camelot Unchained was at first planning complex classes but then changed to single concept builds and also plan to release new classes, likely even faster than BDO. I’m actually getting on board with this concept.

Easier to create classes allow entirely new themes and art direction. You get to play a class entirely unique instead of being in game with fewer classes and a spec choice often ridiculed over other choices (the eternal tank spec vs dps spec argument). The concept is about playing more classes anyway which is why it is done.

As long as the game is wide open in play style (i.e. not a story driven, vertical progression game) it’s a great way to keep player interest in the game.

mosselyn
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mosselyn

I enjoy having a new class to experiment with, but only if the devs can find a way to make it feel different from the ones already in the game. Just changing the combat animations doesn’t cut it.

From a practical perspective, it seems to me adding a lot of classes potentially burdens the dev team with ever increasing balance difficulties. Unless you’re going to throw the towel in on balance (which is a viable choice, I suppose).

Tamanous
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Tamanous

Balance is the key. It’s why the games that introduce classes often typically aren’t built heavily around role based or 1v1 game play. Players in BDO 1v1 for fun all the time but the real game offers so much more outside of 1v1 and typical trinity dungeon crawling that balance becomes less of an issue (always is an issue but more easily balanced not having to focus on one area). Plus if you don’t fill a role well you just play an alt as the game literally pays you to do so.

CU will be gearing for even larger scale pvp and built entirely around group play from small scale through entire army size which is they flat out said they won’t even bother with 1v1 balance (unless so extreme it warrants it). Choosing a class is akin to choosing a role within an army so class balance is just a tiny component of overall balance.

Now a game like Wow that has arena combat? Ya, balance issues up the ying yang. It’s definitely all about the core game supporting it.

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Vunak

You can’t really use BDO as an example since balance in that game is extremely important to people. That game is so serious in its grind that having your class nerfed hard so it can’t compete can completely turn people off from the game.

Saying oh just play an Alt doesn’t do it for a lot of people. As they didn’t invest their time into a class they enjoy the most just to shelve it because its unviable or play gimped for the same reasons.

I know of many people that abandoned their Valks, Tamers and Berserkers (berserkers Pre Awakening) because of how badly they performed. Or the amount of people that complained about the Maewha and Musa because they were literally broken with AP and DP when they released and could barely even do Helms.

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FreecczLaw

As often as they can as long as they can keep them interesting. Having a class that speaks to me is one of the more important aspects of an MMORPG to me. If nothing is appealing to me I rarely even try the game and if I do and don’t like any of the classes it is unlikely I stay long. Since everyone likes different things I do think more is better, again though, as long as the classes are not just the same classes with different skins.

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Koshelkin

Imo regularly. A nice new class can be, for me, more exciting than an entire new zone or dozen new dungeons.

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Alex Malone

For me, it is all down to the uniqueness of the gameplay of a class.

If the developers can continue to think up new unique ways of playing a role, then by all means keep creating new classes. For example, if the game already has a melee DPS, you should only add another melee DPS class if you can make the gameplay substantially different, even though the role is the same.

Similarly, the devs should keep a balance between the roles. If one particular role is not being taken up by the community then perhaps the devs should design a new class to fulfil that role. So, healers are usually a rarity in many MMOs, so I think designing a new healer is a good idea to help encourage more people into that role.

Assuming the balance and gameplay is kept on top of, then devs should feel free to release classes as often as they are able.

If the devs are creating a whole new role (e.g. if the game is a trinity game, but devs want to add support as a new role) then that is best kept to expansions alone, as it will require a rebalancing of the entire game (if it doesn’t, then the new role is superfluous)