Perfect Ten: 10 MMORPGs with weirdly defensive fanbases

The yeller.

I do not have nice things to say about RuneScape. I have never had nice things to say about RuneScape. I also do not worry about saying not-nice things about RuneScape at any given interval because history has shown me that RuneScape fans not only do not care but often times will actually agree with most of those things. For example, I have not met a RuneScape fan who does not think that the game is a pile of jank and grind with sub-par graphics; that just does it for them for whatever reason. I may not understand it, but hey, that’s fine.

Not all games have fandoms that are so chill. There are some games that do, in fact, have fanbases that are weirdly defensive. Not defensive about things that are claimed as flaws when they are part of the basic design of the game, but defensive about anything perceived as an attack on the hive to an almost feral degree. And because I like nothing more than people yelling at me in the comments, I decided to make a list out of them. Enjoy!


1. World of Warcraft

I have many times opined held that Blizzard has long cultivated an image of being this scrappy little indie company when not only was this false for a long time (it became part of Activision a long time ago), but it has always been false. Blizzard has always had gobs of corporate budget to spend. But that image seems to have wedged itself deep in people’s brains, so World of Warcraft must be defended as an uwu smol bean who can’t do hard things like implement dyes or housing or an endgame model that doesn’t break its back to cater to a progression hobbyhorse for a few thousand people. It’s really, really weird.

won't you let me live

2. The Secret World

Several of the games on this list are, in fact, good games. There’s a lot to like in The Secret World, as I’ve talked about before, but the fanbase has a weirdly defensive tone about anything. Did you say the game’s combat was bad? No it wasn’t. Are there reams and reams of people talking about how the combat was bad? Well, they’re just all wrong and don’t know what they’re talking about. I’d say that it’s an inability to understand what went wrong with the game that ensures that the problems will just repeat themselves, but… well, that’s just Funcom; the fans don’t really factor in here. But it doesn’t facilitate growth and understanding.


3. Star Citizen

Look, when you have a chart for people to identify which kind of defender you are for a game that was supposed to be released in the last decade, you have officially lost the plot. Especially when a lot of the worst things about a game’s development could actually be solved – very literally – by players just collectively saying “no more money until you start making progress toward actual launch.” That is a thing that could happen! Real quick, even!

all right, so...

4. Ashes of Creation

When you start every letter about the Glorious Community for your game, I guess you are gonna draw in the whackadoos, sure. This one honestly makes even less sense to me than the prior entry because, like… there was something like an Ashes of Creation release in the form of a battle royale game and nobody except Sam liked it? And somehow that has just gotten totally memory-holed, so every time I bring it up, I feel as if I’m going crazy because no one remembers this existing at all (again, except Sam). Why are you defending this game? The one time the team actually launched something, it went poorly! Does no one remember this happening? Thank God I can browse our article history.

Broad strokes.

5. Final Fantasy XIV

The weird thing is that there’s kind of a bifurcated situation here, and I can really understand where the weird defensiveness comes from. There are a lot of critiques of Final Fantasy XIV that come down to a mismatch of values where the game makes it clear what it wants to be and how it wants to play and that just isn’t what the person on the other end wants. Disregarding bad-faith arguments coming from dank corners of social media, there’s a lot of criticism that can be waved away with “you do not want pizza, but this is a pizza restaurant, so please stop being angry that it does not serve tacos.”

But to extend that analogy, it is possible to still criticize pizza! There are legitimate criticisms to be made about pizza, even if you recognize it is good pizza! And when you have a certain portion of the fanbase who are used to defending against people who are complaining that the taco people are mad at the pizza joint, they tend to trot out the same defenses to people who are asking something as genuinely worth asking as “why are onions not available here as a pizza topping?” Sure, there might be an answer, but acting like someone is an idiot for asking ain’t it, chief.

are you saying i'm not special

6. WoW Classic

It’d be one thing if WoW Classic had the same sort of weirdly defensive fans as WoW; that would be unremarkable. But no, the weird defensiveness here is basically like being a Red Sox fan but for a throwback version of a 20-year-old video game, as if the vanilla game were the perfect expression of a video game and all other versions are somehow fallen, sinful versions that cannot approach the pure, untrammeled glory of this version of the game. I’m not exaggerating by much, either.

From this side of the mirror it looks acceptable.

7. Second Life

Second Life, to me, has always felt like the video game equivalent of particularly pretentious arthouse cinema. There’s not something inherently wrong with it, obviously, but if it’s all you consume and you think that people who don’t want that as your exclusive diet are somehow lesser for it, you are… forming some odd base assumptions, let’s say. Not that, again, it’s hard to see where the defensiveness comes from; if you’ve had this as your main game and have dealt with years of people denigrating it, you are probably a little exhausted and battle-hardened!


8. ArcheAge

The fun thing about each of these entries is that it’s weird defensiveness, but it’s always different. ArcheAge fans, for example, will eagerly agree with basically any criticism of how the game was managed, the monetization, the server merges, all sorts of things. The weird part is the “but.” There’s always a “but,” and it always comes down to “but if all of that went away, the game would have been a huge hit.”

And… to a certain extent, that is true. If the game had been better monetized in a way that didn’t upset people, it would have been a bigger hit. But a lot of these things (like merges and repeated land rushes) are things that happened because it… wasn’t? The weird defensiveness is that it’s a defense of a version of the game that never actually existed, and while I am definitely sad to lose this one because it had some neat ideas, it didn’t land right, and that is kind of the problem.



It is sad that Gamigo has left RIFT to languish with no real future, absolutely. But for a game that was very much cribbing from WoW’s homework and launched in 2011? RIFT got three expansions, it scored good reviews, and it was active for a good long time. It got a lot of great quality-of-life features. It did well by pretty much any standard unless you expect it to be continuing to receive big expansions. And that’s a reasonable wish, but it’s not really fair to call the game some sort of failure or suggest that it died before its time. It did remarkably well for a long time; it just doesn’t get the perpetual-expansion engine of some games.


10. Shroud of the Avatar

All right, yes, it kind of makes sense that if this is the game you have chosen to defend against criticism, you are going to be just a little bit wonky. What makes it weird is that this is the title you have decided to be ride-or-die for. Like, there are other games? Lots of them? Why are you dying on this hill? Is someone in the house with you right now? Blink twice for yes.

Everyone likes a good list, and we are no different! Perfect Ten takes an MMO topic and divvies it up into 10 delicious, entertaining, and often informative segments for your snacking pleasure. Got a good idea for a list? Email us at or with the subject line “Perfect Ten.”
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