The Daily Grind: Do DPS numbers help you improve your play in an MMO?

Bart, stop creating a diversion!

Let’s be perfectly clear here, this question is not meant to be theoretical but personal. Whether or not DPS numbers should be in World of Warcraft is a debate that has appreciable points on both sides and is also irrelevant, because the tools are already there and you can’t put that particular cat back in the bag. The question is whether seeing those actual numbers helps you improve or not when you play the game.

For some people, it definitely does. If you’re still learning your rotations and committing them to memory, it can be helpful to, say, see how much a different rotation helps you out on Death Knight. You can compare two pieces of equipment and see which one is actually producing better numbers even if one looks like it should be the clear winner. Maybe a lower-level necklace in Final Fantasy XIV is actually more useful because the higher one has Spell Speed and that doesn’t help you!

On the other hand, the number isn’t indicative of overall performance like following mechanics, and some people find that chasing the number only gives anxiety rather than goals to strive for. So what about you, dear readers? Do DPS meters help you personally improve your play in an MMO? Or are they at best neutral and at worst harmful? (Leaving aside the guy who wants to brag about his numbers. That guy’s just a jerk.)

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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Bango on Laurelin

No, but having a good idea of the threat I am generating relative to what the group’s tank is putting out is very useful.

Dušan Frolkovič

Yes. Mainly because i tend to do my own builds in games, and with a dps meter i can gauge if i am pulling my weight, not aiming for max dps.

Carlo Lacsina
Carlo Lacsina

I want to add in the case for FFXIV, I use the parse to commend the highest DPS. A lot of people just commend the tank and healer, but it’s pretty obvious. DPS put in work too.

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Big yes here. Both of the times I bothered to get a parser and actually analyze what was happening, I improved by leaps and bounds as I adjusted my play based on the feedback I was getting. I guess you could say it was the gateway to “get gud,” and I started learning other things too (rotations, better team work, builds, etc.).

On the plus side, all this dramatically increased the range of content I could do, whether it was lifting up some lousy-but-fun comrades or running with the big boys on one of those “you must be this high to ride” type of zones. Outside of groups, it unlocked a whole meta-game for me and made me appreciate the systems a lot more.

On the minus side, it made me dread updates to the game and/or returning after a long break. Figuring out the nuts and bolts didn’t feel like “work” while I was in a cadence of play, but when I wasn’t it felt like a huge hurdle. Plus, after tasting the fruit of optimization it became harder to enjoy coasting.

The other big minus was that I drew a smaller box around what I could be and how I should play. Some activities, loot, and quests fit in those lines a lot better than others. Invariably I would get less happy once I started focusing on things I couldn’t control (drops, design quality, quest/group options, etc.) instead of things I could (mainly my character and play-style).

Both stories had the same ending. The fun was super fun at its peak, but the rewards for staying in my box would become more or less constant while the frustrations over the things I couldn’t control would pile up until it wasn’t fun anymore.

Kero Kero

For sure.

Guild Wars 2 had DPS meter addons that fed into a full Damage parser and you got to look at analytics for your performance, see your relative comparison to others both in your raid and of your class, and it gave you a good amount of insight into where you are lacking and what phases you may need to learn better or find other flaws in your performance you could improve upon.

Kurt Shadle

Not at all. I don’t look at or care for dps numbers. I’m not a min-maxer and I don’t even care about optimal rotations. I use whatever skills I think work best and things die eventually. Couldn’t care less if it takes 5 seconds instead of 3 to down something.

Also, raw dps numbers are very misleading. You can stand in the red and force a healer to keep you alive instead of moving like everyone else and thus getting an edge on dps numbers. You’re damaging while they’re not.

Oleg Chebeneev

Makes me not be lazy and try harder to beat others. But it doesnt teach me anything about class

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I’m not a min maxer, I could care less about my DPS.

Which is not to say it is a worthless game component, just not something of such relevance I track it.

My gear is usually good for my level so essentially my DPS is nothing for me to be concerned about… could I maximise it, sure but that’s just not THAT important to me for me to do so.

Arnold Hendrick

A “DPS” stat saves me a tiny amount of arithmetic, nothing more. I can have a 5.5 dps sword in WoW Classic, and would tend to choose that over my 4.4 dps mace if all other things were equal. But in most games, they rarely are, as we all know.

Things get even more complicated when you consider characters like the Battle for Azeroth WoW monk. This melee DPS class has its most damaging and effect-laden abilities happening outside of the usual one-attack-every-1.5-seconds game cycle. This class appears to be (perhaps unintentionally) adding an “iframe” concept into WoW – since some of those special attacks have subtle links to the character animation speed (rather than the standard WoW 1.5 second internal combat cycle). Remember the original Conan (2008) MMORPG, where females were less effective melee fighters because their melee animations took longer to execute! No equipment DPS value revealed that!

In fact, a game like Blade and Soul (which is all about iframes, combat commitments and interrupt opportunities in fractions of a second) demonstrates the complete futility of dps meters for rating equipment or classes.


DPS meters help me improve my DPS, yes.

However, that is only important if the gameplay is extremely shallow, and if that is the case I won’t be playing the game for long anyway.

If the combat mechanics have any depth at all, then my DPS numbers will be basically inconsequential. My overall skill as a player and deeper understanding of the mechanics will have a much more profound effect than how much damage I can do when I’m stood still bashing on an enemy.