Do devs make games unbalanced purposely to ensure renewed audience interest with "artificial" updates

May 26, 2011
I was wondering of all the slimy stuff devs do to keep their game in the minds of players.... is keeping a game purposely unbalanced a secret in the industry?

It allows them to build out their road maps with a clearer picture ahead of time if they are aware of what is already unbalanced and schedule in the changes more accurately.

sure there are unforeseen balancing, but as a company i think dev/pubs would want to limit as much "randomness" there is and try to be in control of the unbalance from the start. I think devs are definitely aware of what they are putting in the game and that its all artificial updates to keep the waves up "newness" rolling in as the game ages.

yay or nay?
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Aug 29, 2018
Bartow, Florida, USA
Outside of XP booster shenanigans I highly doubt it. A poor launch has the capacity to tank a live-service game from the get-go. Think of how many games actually managed to claw themselves back to relevance after a botched launch, no dev wants to go through that.


Nov 27, 2018
League of Legends is a prime example here - a decade old game that's unbalanced AF, only to milk the players for skins for the current OP champs.
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May 26, 2011
Outside of XP booster shenanigans I highly doubt it. A poor launch has the capacity to tank a live-service game from the get-go. Think of how many games actually managed to claw themselves back to relevance after a botched launch, no dev wants to go through that.
take a fighting game. if you make some characters marginally better and let the community gravitate to them and learn the mechanics etc. then everyone complains oh only "character X Y Z" are used and are OP'd... but the devs know that.. aand they have it already scheduled into their production that they are going to scale back character X Y Z while slightly OP'ing a handful of other "purposefully wink wink " lesser used characters. and by doing this they can ride an endless balancing wave of keeping their game relevant. or at least temper the falloff.

i get what you mean by devs, but im not talking about game breaking balance, just enough for the community to find their way for 3-6 and then complain for an update etc.

sure maybe most games dont come back from botched launch, but there are more successful games that have frequent balancing updates to feed the players.
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Patient MembeR
Apr 18, 2018
No, I think devs are just all-around mediocre when it comes to balancing their own games.

The more systems you pile on top of systems, the harder it becomes to pull it all together into a cohesive whole. By some miracle, a tiny percentage of companies somehow manage to pull it off, and the rest are average at it.

I remember hearing this complaint in the early 90s regarding the Street Fighter II re-releases. "Do you think they're holding back characters on purpose?" is what my friends said, and I figured it was true. Of course, we didn't realize that the idea of a 'combo' was a glitch in SF2 and CAPCOM was riding the surge of popularity as best as it could.

Producing content is easy (in the sense that companies have a dozen different ways of churning it out) but balancing a game is difficult. It is why multiplayer games receive balance patches all the time.
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Neo Member
Apr 11, 2019
I don't believe that this is how the industry works. Balance issues only come up for online games, or "games as a service", and keeping the playerbase happy in that regard is crucial. If you consider how some games struggle - Let's take Overwatch as an example - Then it's pretty clear that the devs don't always know how they messed up and how to make it better. Overwatch was (I believe still is?) dominated by the GOATS meta (triple tank, triple support) and it's only adding to all the issues of the game feeling stale in so many aspects. If the devs did that on purpose, they would have fixed it already to focus on more pressing issues, but instead they have to deal with it while trying to keep all the players that are leaving due to different issues.

I am more conviced that we, as players, are incredibly smart. When you put us together we come up with a lot of ways to exploit game mechanics, and the devs often can not foresee what we're up to until the changes are live. I'm sure they have plenty of other issues to deal with rather than actively making their games messy for us to cry out for updates.


Nov 30, 2012
I'm sure most mobile garbage is made this way. They ruin the balance in order to force you into micro-transactions.

Which means the more you pay the easier it gets. What's even the point of playing then?
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Ulysses 31

Nov 24, 2013
Reminds me of that scene in James Bond Tomorrow Never Dies where some guy says "as requested it's full of bugs so people will be forced to upgrade for years".


Mar 12, 2019
They do that with clash of clans. They release an overpowered troop to get everyone to buy gems to upgrade it, then a month later release a patch nerfing it. It happens over and over again.
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Nov 17, 2014
That sounds like a losing strategy. A bad launch for your average game will never recover the player base. Only established series could even survive that.

I would think having a good to great initial launch and feeding the community updates would be the ideal goal.


Jun 21, 2013
The good old trick with shadow conspiracies is that they assume competence.
You should never assume competence, especially if it concern a large group of people.

It is hard enough to ship a game that isn't half broken with bugs, balancing it, is asking probably too much.
Occam's razor tell me they just don't do it, or the bare minimum for launch. (patch it later mentality)

Another problem is that they simply don't have the bandwidth to find all the issues.
1 millions people are going to find issue that a team of dedicated QA team of 20 people aren't going to find.
It takes just 1 person on the internet with a shitty attitude to have a "broken" game.


Mar 9, 2017
I'm sure they do. But for less evil reasons. I believe devs purposely keep certain items, characters, strategies marginally better, to keep the community engaged. People will discover, gravitate towards those, keep the wikis updated, and then devs will slowly shift the focus. It's like a metagame.
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Aug 22, 2014
i think the developers see the same game, stats, and difficulty level every day for years and the gradual transformations of the development process that they can't easily view the game through the eyes of someone just buying the finished product for the first time.


Sep 30, 2018
I suppose it depends on what game specifically you´re talking about. Generally, no probably not, but I´m 100% convinced that this was the case back when I still played League of Legends (season 3-6). Pretty much every new character release was the same song and dance, they would come out completely bonkers overpowered to incentivize people to buy it. Subsequent patches would then gradually bring them in-line with the rest of the cast while "accidentally-on-purpose" introducing the next ridiculous busted nonsense, and this shit basically happened like clockwork.

If you make a mistake or two I´ll buy the incompetence argument. Making the exact same mistake every week for years running is a little too much to swallow.
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