Audio/Video, Entertainment

MMO Industry or "The plague of NERFS"

In the massive multiplayer online gaming community there is nothing as hated but at the same time asked for as "nerfs". They have plagued MMOs [Massive Multiplayer Online] since they first appeared and continue to do so even to this day. It is said that online games have the tendency to bring out the worst qualities in people and nerfs are the perfect example of this.

The story is always the same – one player class, ability or game feature becomes perceived as overpowered or game breaking from someone’s point of view and needs to be severely weakened. Pretty soon the rage caused by this perceptional injustice culminates in insane amounts of whine posts in forums, which in the end, break game developers and force them to give in to the whining masses. Most of the time it is an unskilled or simply lazy player who believes it is his dev given right to get an easy kill from desired opponent. Players like this should probably invest more time in researching enemy class and developing tactics then whining to the developers.

There are also players who play classes with similar roles or build focuses and wish to see their competition weakened. You have them in every game and they are usually your sinister allies. Guys that play with you but actually want to see your class weakened. Tanks jealous of other classes specced for tanking, healers of those specced for healing, and damage classes of tanks or healers who chose to deal damage instead of their original purpose. While in theory each class should do what it was originally intended, in practice each game gives various build options for taking them in different directions. To many times it is just more fun to be an armored slayer instead of a runty rogue, ninja etc. or a priest who chooses to stray from his pacifist ways and break some skulls.

Sometimes people from the same class wish to see different build options that others enjoyed destroyed to elevate their own role value. For example, a tank who desires to see his damage dealing build options reduced so he gets more praises for being a proper damage soaker. 
Pet class player who happily loses direct damage abilities in order to get more damage from pets so they can sit back and relax while pets do all the work, is also common.   

Classes that are designed for same thing but have some differences in way they perform their function also tend to attract whiners as to which class has more right to those functions. Ranged damage classes that believe they should do more damage than melee because they are squishy and melee that believe they deserve more damage because they need to get close to target are the perfect examples of this sentiment. People like these tend to be more active on forums than those who actually enjoy their class and are usually very active in flooding forums with whining posts. Some nerf posts are very aggressive and usually written in caps with threat of leaving the game added at the end. Such loud and obnoxious posters are mostly harmless but the real problem lies with the seemingly calm and rational ones. Skillful sophists that provide many pages of examples why classes need to be weakened and even mathematical values that support their point. One could easily be deluded by reading such posts but truth is if you go to any MMO’s class forum you will see that almost all classes are broken and every other needs a nerf.

The worst off all are of course, all the indecisive game developers that are either too easily broken by whiners or plainly change their minds about their game design every now and then. The usual defense is "The game came out too soon, we had no time to test stuff" (Then what were all the Betas for? Oh right, just advertisement) or my personal favorite, "That ability performed too high compared to the original intent so it had to be balanced". Personally, I am greatly opposed to the nerfing practices that run rampant in this game genre. When the first nerfs arrive, it is just a matter of time when devs "go crazy" and start nerfing every class or ability and then once great games go to hell. From something that should only be used as a last resort, it has become a quick fix for any problem, from lack of end game content to badly designed player versus player. Of course, I am also not so naïve to think that in massively multiplayer online games everything is perfectly balanced and everyone has a fair chance against each other. In games that revolve around team work no one needs to be a one man army, but if someone is really the underdog some buffs are in order. It is better to improve some class than weaken or completely destroy aspects of another.

This all too present nerfing mentality needs to go away and players themselves should consider that the class they want to nerf today might be the class they want to play tomorrow.


DISCLAIMER: The views presented in this article represent only the personal opinions of the author. Members of BSN* may or may not agree with the statements expressed in this article.