Global Chat: Does permadeath mode in MMOs have merit?


Whenever you’re stuck for an MMO topic to talk about on a blog, you can never go wrong with chewing on the concept of permadeath! This certainly prompted Unidentified Signal Source to new heights of game development analysis.

“Now, I find that the ‘waste of time’ portion is somewhat case by case,” said SDWeasel. “In fact, it relies almost entirely upon nature of games as a form of entertainment. If you enjoy the higher stakes, playstyle, and time spent doing it, then it’s hard to argue that the time was wasted.”

24 Hours In: Dungeons and Dragons Online day 3

DDO doesn’t mess around with short duration debuffs for things like that. Weapons can break and once they do they’re unusable until repaired, and that won’t be until after the quest is over. It was only by luck that I didn’t end up having to try to punch the final boss to death.”

The Friendly Necromancer: EverQuest ding 97!

“It’s not a total ghost town on this server. There are people talking in general from time to time, and last night the chat actually got quite busy.  It was kind of cool to see.  From what I understand, the real grouping fun happens on the recommended servers, servers like Firiona Vie.”

Gaming and Geek Life: Returning to Black Desert

“I remember really liking the life skills, the horse taming/training/breeding system and other things about the game. So in knowing that you’d get some rewards for transferring early, I decided to patch my client (which was no little thing) and see what BDO was up to lately.”

Indiecator: My problem with Destiny 2

“The issue that turned me off the most, though, was that season pass mechanic they introduced into the game. ‘Mechanic,’ I say, but it’s more of a business model that lets you pay money to gain access to a bunch of content… and then you get all excited about it but it’s just way too much of a grind… and then they fix it but I just don’t feel like playing anymore because they ruined the game for me.”

Nerdy Bookahs: A look at Project Gorgon in January 2021

Project Gorgon has no quest givers with a quest icon over their heads, by the way. You can talk to NPCs and then sometimes they give you a quest. Sometimes they also only mention something which gives you a hint on what you can do, but there is no mentioning of how to do that.”

Common Sense Gamer: Secret World Legends tips and tricks

“Unlike its predecessors, Secret World Legends kicks MMO norms such as running around mindlessly killing things to the curb, instead introducing investigation missions which place intellect above reflexes and brawn. While refreshing, this innovation can also be rather daunting to those more used to the twitch game style, so here are a few Secret World Legends tips and tricks to help you hop right over that learning curve amongst others.”

Every day there are tons of terrific, insightful, and unusual articles posted across the MMO gaming blogosphere — and every day, Justin reads as many as he can. Global Chat is a sampling of noteworthy essays, rants, and guides from the past few weeks of MMO discourse.

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Robert Mann

Depends upon the how, and the how of the rest of the game.

Permadeath, in a setup where you aren’t basically working solely as a combat avatar, might be okay. In a game where you are worried about specific character looks, gear, and so on… not so much.

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Richard de Leon III

For me, no cash shop, no sub, no nothing if its mandatory.

If it were optional, I can see myself at least trying it once if the reward system was appropriate like diablo. It wouldnt be a main toon/acct.

PVP…i’d rather watch as an audience member than being a participant if it were an MMO. I have no problems in a COD style game since there is no accumulation of gear.

Danny Smith

In theory it could but theres one problem: its online. Theres a reason i only do hardcore runs of diablo 3 in the ps4 version and not the pc version.

I can play it without needing to connect to a server.

Its amazing what a difference zero lag and rubber banding makes to a persons interest in a permadeath game.


If there are roguelite features so even dying means progression and if they don’t try to force PvP into the mix than sure. I might leave gear progression for characters but tie leveling to account wide progression after a death.

Dying should either result in new & interesting ways to play the game or making you stronger so the beginning areas become easier and go by quicker.

Patreon Donor
Loyal Patron

Optional? If and only if it doesn’t gate something that should be attainable otherwise. (Sorta like sticking PvE objectives in a forced PvP zone). If somebody wants to gamble on the Internet infrastructure between them and the game servers they are welcome to do so.

Once that mode becomes required for me then it’s time to take my money elsewhere.


Short answer, no.

Long answer: The problem is that permadeath and MMO’s have irreconcilable different goals and pacing. Permadeath games tend to be short lived (pun intended) affairs. Were a run may only be minutes to a couple of hours, often with a fixed character(s). It’s so that the sting of failure and death is never so great as to prevent you from simply trying again. They are built on trial and error.

MMO’s however are very long term games, where you can be expected to play even a single character for hundreds, if not thousands of hours, as you slowly amass experience and in game wealth, with usually a personally created character. Their usually built on social gameplay and mastery.

To have a game where you could potentially spend hundred if not thousands of hours, only potentially lose everything due to one careless mistake or something completely outside of your control, would in effect be a death knell for most players. Most people generally don’t like the idea of losing everything they’ve worked for. And the longer they spend acquiring it, the worse they will feel about it.

And for the few that may be into that, would make for such an incredibly hyper niche product, that the developers would be hard pressed to sustain such a product with such a limited player population. It unsustainable.

While there may be more or less room for harsher death penalties, permadeath is kind of a non starter for this genre. The risk and cost is too great for what little gain there is to be had.


One comment about permadeath: It’s certainly a subject worth more discussion than a passing reference in a column introduction.

I think it’s a fascinating subject that connects to a much larger issue that plagues both online and tabletop rpgs: the simulation of motivation. Permadeath is just the online games’ attempt to motivate players in an imagined world to behave more realistically…to be careful of what fights they get into, to be more wary of combat in the first place, and to heighten the sense of risk. It’s fairly clumsy, and hypocritical when those same games then continue to lock advancement and rewards solely behind combat.

The larger question is about motivation. It’s easy to say in an rpg “my character works out for 6 weeks solid to gain a point of strength”…in real life, that’s a damned hard thing to do. Sex, faith, pain, boredom, addiction, joy, there are a host of major drivers of human behavior that really don’t fit the empirical, Skinner-box mechanical rules of rpgs today.

In my 42 years of playing rpgs, at least the last 30 I’ve tried to find (or devise) a method to motivate players in mechanics to want a more comfortable chair, or to eat a tastier meal, or to make the really stupid choices some men make to gain the attention of a pretty woman. They’re arguably some of the main currents of human action, ignoring them (or relying on players to weigh them in their role playing fairly, when it’s clear in real life that they are also the drivers of some staggeringly self-destructive choices nobody would make if they could self reflect objectively) seems like we’re missing a huge part of realizing these imagined people.

Jon Wax

In it’s current iteration it feels like just another throttle, something to add on to a game that feigns depth.

I support it but it would have to be put in a game with a bigger purpose, a slower pace and much longer game loops. Dying should be either an abrupt and unexpected tragedy or an emotional inevitability.

It shouldn’t be annoying. Minimizing death devalues it as an event.


I think MMOs should experiment more with optional rules players can activate when creating a character, without opening up separate servers for that purpose. And permadeath, together with double/half XP, PVP-always-on, or no-trade, is a good example for such an optional rule.

This give more variety to leveling alts.


I assign permadeath rules to some characters in the games I play. Sometimes I even get a character to max level and then delete them and start over. It depends on how much I enjoy leveling them. I’ve never really subscribed to the idea of an endgame, so it’s all about the journey most of the time.