The Daily Grind: Is an MMORPG still an MMORPG without gear progression?


A Massively OP commenter recently opined that “without gear progression, [a game] is a MOBA not an MMORPG,” and I would really love to talk about that because I’ve seen similar sentiments crop up a lot in the last year.

Many of my personal favorite MMORPGs are usually those that do away with gear progression or render it unimportant. Classic Star Wars Galaxies, Guild Wars, City of Heroes — never mind sandboxes like pre-Trammel Ultima Online or Glitch — all had minimal gear progression if they had any at all. Detractors might crow that Guild Wars 2 went back on plans to avoid gear progression, but I think most of us would still agree it’s relatively tame compared to the gear-grinds of themeparks like World of Warcraft. Are those not MMORPGs?

I agree that without some form of character customization or advancement, either vertical or horizontal, something that goes beyond swapping in a cash-shop skin for your avatar between matches, a game tips away from being an MMORPG. But I don’t think it needs to be gear. In fact, I think gear-based progression is cheap and lazy choice for an MMORPG to begin with.

What do you folks think? What’s the true deciding line between whether something’s an MMORPG or mere MOBA or online shooter? Is an MMORPG still an MMORPG without gear progression?

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!
Previous articleMassively Overthinking: Is IP-blocking in online games a necessary evil?
Next articleGloria Victis releases a new gameplay trailer for your viewing pleasure

No posts to display

oldest most liked
Inline Feedback
View all comments