The Daily Grind: What do you think about ‘gear peacocks’ in MMOs?


Every so often, usually when it comes to World of Warcraft, I hear what I’ve always thought of as the Peacock Defense for making raid gear so much better than everything else in the game in terms of looks and stats and everything. The Peacock Defense is pretty obvious: It’s that the point of looking better and outgearing everyone is standing in the middle of the city and making people gape and grovel at how totally cool you look. The hours of assembling other people and following precise raid strategies someone else figured out are all justified by that!

And yet I’m going to be honest – after years of playing MMOs, my reaction to this has never been, “Wow, I should devote myself to the raiding cycle.” At best, it’s been, “Wow, it’s annoying that all of the best customization options are locked that way,” and at worst it’s been, “Wow, what an obnoxious turd mountain standing in the way just to show off.”

But today we don’t want to talk about the design philosophy going into these elements but the people standing around and expecting admiration. Gear peacocks exist in any game wherein there is gear to be a peacock in, and while they’re less common in games replete with cosmetic options (hello, Final Fantasy XIV) you still find them just the same. So what do you think of gear peacocks in 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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I do think being the most awesome looking should be a reward for time and skill put into the game but whether that time and skill is accomplishing difficult raids, achievements, reputations, Rare Spawns, RNG drops, etc. or simply the time and skill of nitpickingly perfecting the aesthetic synergy of each piece of gear, trying different dye combinations, and finding the looking for the perfectly matching mount until you are an epic fashionista, I have no true opinion on.

TL;DR Epic appearances should be a reward for time and skill, though I don’t care whether that is just hardcore fashion skill or hardcore endgame skill.

Mark Werenczuk

There’s no other point in playing a MMO than bettering your character and showing it off.

Dilly Dolly

My reaction would be,

Wow there are some fun items and I want to encourage my friend to join the MMO with me.

Bruno Brito


I think that Classic players will be in for a rude awakening on the months you only raid Molten Core, Onyxia, and such to be looking like a scuffed purple he-orc.

Castagere Shaikura

Yeah, I can’t wait to see how they really feel when they start playing classic Wow.

Adam Russell

People do go afk for other reasons.

Matt Comstock

Silly Peacocks. Let them preen as I dash past them.


That seem to be the opinion of people who do not want to put in the effort.. Envy is the word that come to mind. No of course you are entitled to everything, there should be no distinction, nothing to indicate persistance and skill..but your wallet is an ok way to get gear. No reward for excellence, no feeling of acomplishment, just flat boring eazmode lowest common denominator for everyone Snowflake.
Gawd I dislike that mentality, and games that provide for it..

Susan Moses

There definitely should be cosmetic gear locked behind content, and it should not look awful. Showing off your accomplishment is part of the reward of racing to complete difficult content. It may be a particular cape, or armor piece, or a mount, but there should be something that ONLY comes from difficult content to show you have completed difficult content.

What I hate is when they lock what should be the most common-looking armors behind some kind of grind or difficult content. There is something to be said for the visual consistency and immersion of a game and how it is effected by seeing most people wearing crazy stuff that doesn’t fit the design. Like when SWG launched, they should have made it very easy for imperials to get stormtrooper armor and have it offer decent protection, because then you’d see stormtroopers running all over the place instead of all the Imperials on the server looking like hobos that walked out of Jabba’s palace. Basically, the game should be designed so that the most common player ends up being dressed in a way that you would dress NPCs. The armor guards wear in stormwind should be the most common armor for alliance members in WOW for example, not some shoulder-spikey weird thing that you know you’d never see an NPC in.

So that’s where the balancing act should be. Between having very unique and easily identifiable items that distinguish someone as having completed a particular tier of content (It can be as simple as saving a particular shade of purple for capes or something) and designing the game so most of the players you see in town don’t threaten your feeling of immersion.

Unique titles, mounts, gear, all these things are important parts of the PVE experience. Some should be easy to get and come naturally just by getting to max level, so you feel like you look different than the rags you started out in, but some should be there for the most difficult content so that when you invite someone to group you already know if they have done the toughest content because they are wearing the rewards.

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So what’s the difference between an MMO that content-locks cosmetics and one that cash-shop locks cosmetics? They’re both a form of scarcity.

Many, many many years ago during Vanilla I had the crazy luck of having a Staff of Jordan drop. It was non-stop compliments and “how cool is that” until just after midnight when BC launched and everyone got their very own.

I think the modern way of handling this – with transmog, dyes, and plentiful cosmetics is just a better way to deal. You be you, not what the RNG says you can be.

Castagere Shaikura

I have always hated this kind of thing in MMO’s with gear. It created elitism in every MMO out there doing it. Not everyone wanted to raid or pvp and should not be forced to do it because of better gear. MMO Devs really need to just stand back and look at what the genre is turning into. But they have no choice because of the suits running the show. I have a feeling emulators are going to be the choice for many going forward. Heck, I have 3 on my pc right now. No cash shops or trying to get me to pay to unlock the content. Just playing games for fun.