The Daily Grind: Is zone-wide chat a good thing for MMOs?

I'm not exaggerating when I say that I had Highmountain unlocked without any intent of ever using it.

The first MMO I ever played was Final Fantasy XI, which meant that I got used to the idea of having no zone-wide chat. If you needed to get the attention of everyone in the zone, you used the /yell command, and that was considered intensely rude. It was only when I started playing City of Heroes (my second MMO) that I started getting used to the idea of zone-wide chat… which meant it seemed noisy at first. Going back to FFXI and then later in Final Fantasy XIV, it seemed downright quiet.

On the one hand, having a zone chat feature means that you get to talk with more people on a regular basis, so in some ways it helps with socializing. But it also means socializing that you might not want; Barrens Chat in World of Warcraft was legendary for being awful, and there’s a running meme in FFXIV to just turn off /shout when people are using it heavily. Plus there are people who prefer not to have it for immersion or the sense of immediacy. So what do you think? Is zone-wide chat a good thing for MMOs?

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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An MMO’s zone chat is its global community, for good or ill.

It’s not an MMO if it doesn’t have that.

Arsin Halfmoon

Global chat is like underwear, the dirtier the better


It would be if it was effectively moderated. It’s a great way to ask for and get help, especially for new players and for bugs. But nobody actually moderates it, so what it turns into is Nazi and Transphobia and Harassment Central, so everyone who doesn’t want those things just turns it off or relegates it to a side tab, so the toxicity becomes even more concentrated and floods over newcomers who don’t know how to turn it off yet, many of whom leave the game.

If a game isn’t going to moderate public chat channels, it’s better off without them.

Kevin Smith

It’s fine as long as I can turn it off or turn off channels I don’t want to see. I just can’t even look at chat in most MMO’s anymore to be honest. The amount of garbage and trash people spew in chat is just incredible and really is very rare you actually see anyone actually talking about anything to do with the game.

Patreon Donor

Agree with Nic in that zone chat can definitely help bring a sense of community to the game. It is also helpful when looking for a guild or getting notified of events in the zone. However, almost every time I’ve ever spoken up in general chat I’ve regretted it and ended up adding someone else to my ignore list. Also, seeing real-world topics and politics in zone chat can be incredibly annoying and immersion killing.


ESO was fine in the first couple of years, but now I find I have to turn off zone. It’s a horror now. So many sick people craving attention who found the internet provides places to congregate.

Loyal Patron

I’d say in smaller populations, zone or even game wide general chat are vital for bringing a sense of community and making the game not feel abandoned. For larger games I can totally see why it’s off putting. I remember Vanilla Barrens chat

Maggie May

I am pretty good at ignoring it, otherwise It’s always good to be reminded at how ….. (insert quip here) people can be.


Do you like talking about trump?

Do you like being talked down to by people much ‘cooler’ than you?

Do you enjoy the next movie you want to see spoiled before you go see it?

RIP Betty White

Are you turned on by the laziest trolls?

Do you enjoy your questions you have for the game answered by false information or the response “Google is your friend…”

Do you think BRBRBRBR KKKKKKKKK ALGUEM BR KKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK sounds exotic and worldly?

Then yes Zone chat is for you!

Robert Mann

Yes and no. There’s uses and people who will enjoy the chat regardless of how devolved it is, or how much it may impede some possible other game systems. Then again, there’s a lot of bad behavior, trolling, and that impact upon potential other designs.

I think that there’s room for it as an option: some games should have it, some should not. I do think for MMOs which might decide to focus on more localized social interactions that having neither zone nor global chat (which is even more abused) could lead to interesting alternatives.

As with most things, there are pros and cons. I think the rest of the design of the game really affects that, and I also think that not having such chat in an MMO with the current majority design would be foolish. My point is that doesn’t mean having a different design without it would be a bad thing (in fact, I constantly look for and note the desire for more variety in MMO-land.)