The Daily Grind: Do you believe MMO studios release overpowered new classes on purpose?

    
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Yesterday’s Elder Scrolls Online press embargo drop allowed us to talk a bit more about the overpowered state of the Morrowind Warden class — in fact, Larry flat-out called it a Mary Sue. What surprised me about the ensuing discussion was how incredibly cynical our readers were in response to that (and to the general community uproar over the class). Quite a lot of you (and other highly engaged gamers) seem to believe that ZeniMax is releasing the Warden totally overpowered intentionally as part of its marketing strategy, and to some extent, it makes sense — you want to create hype for your game and get people to buy it, so make sure to pack in a badass, solo-friendly class that encourages fence-sitters to make that leap.

On the other hand, you risk ticking off a couple million existing players who don’t want their characters falling to the bottom of the heap or who don’t want to feel as if they have to reroll.

Do you believe studios like ZeniMax, Blizzard, and ArenaNet intentionally release overpowered new classes, planning to nerf and balance them later? And if so, is it the smart call?

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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Mewmew
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Mewmew

It it being cynical when it’s true? Many game companies do this that sell characters, expansions or DLC releases. Heck the most popular MOBA developers on the planet ADMIT to purposely releasing overpowered characters to sell them and then nerfing them not too long afterwards. This isn’t even a big secret, it’s something that’s often done to sell product.

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Malcolm Swoboda

The more ‘gacha’, the more yes.

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John Buczek

From a player perspective it definitely feels that way. Between Power-Creep and advancing engine technology the Devs want to get cool new stuff into the game without totally rewriting existing classes.

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Wakkander

League of Legends certainly felt that way back when I played it near the start. It seemed like every new champion would run rampant for a week, then Riot would nerf them in a patch and it always felt like it was a ploy to get as many people as possible to pony up and buy the hero while it was the hot new thing.

Was it really? I dunno, game dev isn’t easy and the meta established in a small QA team vs the meta in a massive game are not the same. The meta isn’t even in the same among all players. Many LoL characters that would wipe the floor with lower tier players were a joke in high level play back then as well. It is practically impossible to predict how 30 million players will adapt and exploit something once it is live.

That is admittedly a moba, not an mmo, but more than a little likely carries over. For an MMO I feel like classes are more rare, and less feel like they are OP on release. Some certainly are, but it isn’t as much a constant as it seems in mobas where you buy champions.

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It Didn't Take

Companies have been doing this since the beginning of online gaming. Anyone who believes it’s anything but intentional is delusional.

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Little Bugbear

I think MMO and most all online games (like MOBAs) release overpowered new characters. I see it as a flavor of the month kind of thing. Release a new character or rework a character now it the best, lots of players stop playing their mains and flock to the new character. When people switch characters they have to level back up to max, which takes time and keeps players in game for longer.

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Bryan Correll

MMO players are a picky bunch. When you release a new class players are quickly going to come to a consensus that it is either a) overpowered or b) worthless. The chance that the community will feel a new class is well balanced is so close to nil that why should the devs even try? Err on the side of making it overpowered with the plan to nerf it once the initial shiny-ness wears off.
Yes, I am that cynical.

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Tiresias

I think it’s just a function of feature creep. New classes always do “cool things the developers have wanted to try for a while.”

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Rottenrotny

Yes, of course they do. It’s all part of the marketing ploy.
I’ve been saying this forever and especially for the last couple weeks with the ESO Warden debacle.

Hell, I’ll go even further and say that I think they purposefully screw up class balance to create a rotating roster of OP.
Basically this patch Mages are OP, so all the try hards swap to Mage.
Next patch Paladins are OP, so all the try hards swap to Paladin.
Rinse and repeat. Ensuring that the try hards continue playing while always swapping characters and thus ensuring that constant source of income for the Dev/Pub.

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Little Bugbear

WoW PvP right there. I have so many healers now.

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Daniel Reasor

What I think generally happens is that developers hear player feedback on how their classes should perform, but they also know that changing an established class too much risks kicking over an entirely different anthill with players who are quiet at the moment because they’re happily adjusted to the status quo, so a lot of the player feedback wish list ends up being rolled into the new class first as a trial for the proposed changes.