The Daily Grind: Is crafting fundamental to a proper MMORPG?

Who could have seen this coming.

There was always something that bothered me about City of Heroes, and it took until the point that the game actually introduced its crafting system for me to realize that it was, in fact, the lack of crafting. And don’t get me wrong, the system there works… but it also doesn’t work in some ways because it’s clearly retrofitted into the game rather than an organic part of the initial design. It’s not a core element of how the game was built from the ground up, compared to games like Final Fantasy XIV or World of Warcraft or EVE Online.

The thing is that crafting isn’t what makes a game an MMORPG, and the case could be made that it’s a side activity in a lot of games. Sure, WoW has crafting, but it’s more of a hobby to take on when you’ve got nothing else to do than something that really informs the core gameplay loop most of the time. But looking at games that didn’t have it always brings to mind the lack, and I probably would have liked Guild Wars a lot more if it had a proper crafting system rather than… well, what it actually had. So what do you think? Is crafting fundamental to a proper MMORPG, even if the system itself might be underwhelming?

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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Its extremely beneficial to the MMO, games like ESO and BDO…. totally make the game.
EVE its core to the game.
Darkfall it used to be core.
Even Survival games like Ark have a very well tiered and useful craft system.

thankfully crafting isn’t going away, with all major new games unreleased having it too.

David Goodman

I think GOOD crafting makes an MMO more immersive, while bad crafting becomes a tiresome chore at best, or ignorable and irrelevant at worst.

If a company isn’t going to put effort into making it’s system good, they should ignore it entirely lest it drag the game down.


Hmm. There isn’t a right or wrong answer.

It all depends on the game and what players expect from that game.

For theme parks, crafting isn’t fundamental. I prefer some form of crafting to provide more meta. But most theme park crafting is superficial at best. And most players don’t mind because that is why they are playing this type of game.

For Sand parks or Sandbox MMORPGs it is fundamental for obvious reasons.

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Tobasco da Gama

I think I’ve mentioned before that one of the things that makes Warframe work so well is that even the trash drops get used by the Foundry. You’re never like, “Ugh, Polymer AGAIN?!”, even if you’re sitting on a huge stockpile, because the Foundry eats it by the thousands. And even if you’re crafted everything that needs Polymer right now, a new gun might be released tomorrow that also needs it.

But does that count as a “crafting” system if it doesn’t involve multiple different non-combat jobs with independent levels and ingredient dependencies that require you to obtain things that can only be crafted by other people who leveled up different jobs? You tell me.


Hm… No, I think. I don’t think it’s fundamentally necessary, but it’s nice to have.

It’s kind of like toppings on ice cream. Ice cream is already awesome by itself, but that doesn’t mean I’d say no to some chocolate sauce on it.

And with MMOs, I feel like it’s generally not bad to have more stuff for players to do. But the crafting system has to mean something. If its going to be so completely worthless as to be entirely pointless, you may as well not have crafting at all.


No, it’s not essential.

Being an MMORPG only means being able to support a massive number of players in the same virtual environment, whilst having role playing elements. Crafting isn’t essential to either of those.

That said, I believe crafting becomes essential in two specific circumstances.

The first is if you want to create a living world. An ingame economy is essential for the living world philosophy and crafting is essential to an ingame economy. Buying and selling, as well as controlling what we sell, is pretty fundamental.

The second is when progression is tied to gear (which is most mmorpgs…). When gear becomes so important for personal progression I think it is very important to provide as many routes for progression as possible. It can really suck when you don’t get the gear drops you want, or when the gear provided by quests just isn’t really for you. Crafting can provide a viable route to better gear. It also has the added bonus that it is predictable and within your control, something very important if you’ve been suffering from the randomness of dropped loot.

Daniel Reasor

I’m still waiting for Ever, Jane‘s PvP Battlegrounds patch before I dive into it.



Jim Bergevin Jr

I’m going to go with no, crafting is not fundamental to an MMO. Heck I’ll commit blasphemy and go as far to say that PvP is not fundamental either.

The original Guild Wars take on crafting is just about as far as I want to see it in a game. And as for PvP, it’s just a means to take developer time, money, and resources away from the most important part of any RPG-esque game – the environment of the world and the story.


I would go farther and say, not just MMORPG, but RPGs at all must have crafting to make a world real.

All the characters in any role playing game use some kind of equipment. All that gear has to come from somewhere. To suspension of disbelief the game must close that loop.

Where does all the gear come from? Where does it all go after it is used?

Now, if there is a world were there really is no such thing as equipment, then they are off the hook.