Meta or abuse? Understanding the difference is important

Apr 28 2020 5 min read

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If you have played a video game at any point in your life, you have been a part of meta creation and consumption. Even games from my childhood as simple as Backyard Baseball had a meta. If you played that game, then you know Pablo is the GOAT. Games having metas is inevitable; something will always be better than something else. Metas are fine. But, what isn't fine are things that are so strong that nothing comes close to measuring up to them and they have no counters and no weaknesses. That is abuse.


Why does this matter

If you care about the health and stability of your favorite game, you need to understand that abusing exploits and unintended advantages only hurt it. It will pull people off the game, and in some cases, they will never return. A dwindled player base is never good for any multiplayer game, and the entirety of that player base abusing something unintended makes for a miserable experience. Eventually, that miserable experience leads to the death of the game because no one is having fun playing it, and that's the whole reason we play games in the first place. Let me offer you some examples.

Modern Warfare

Modern Warfare is the new installment in the long-running Call of Duty series. Call of Duty is notorious for having weapons in the game that are busted and terrible to play against, though they do eventually get fixed, most of the time. When MW first came out, the 725 shotgun was a huge pain point for me and a vast majority of the community. This shotgun was either as OP or more OP than the Model 1887s from Modern Warfare 2 (2009), though I lean more towards it being more OP. I have seen this shotgun kill people across ground war maps, and I'm not exaggerating. The 725 is a perfect example of a weapon that players abused, which made the game a miserable experience.

Now, Infinity Ward did eventually fix the weapon, and while the 725 was happening, and after, a meta formed for the game. The meta weapons for multiplayer are the MP5 and the M4, both weapons that outperform all the rest. And while the MP5 on 12 tick or 20 tick servers can be annoying sometimes, the two weapons aren't busted beyond belief like the 725 was.

Another MW example that holds today is the akimbo .357 magnums in Warzone. If you keep up with Warzone even a little bit, you know that the akimbo .357s are absolutely stupid. The weapons have a faster time-to-kill than any other weapon in the game, aside from a headshot with a sniper. Warzone also has an issue with vehicles being too strong, and as you can guess, that is being abused in games. The abuse of overpowered vehicles has caused a majority of players to run RPGs as secondaries in response, but those RPGs are also being used in gunfights, which sucks, to be frank. This furthers my point in that abusing things in games that are unintended or blatantly overpowered can cause an undesirable trickle-down effect in the meta, resulting in unfun and miserable gameplay.



VALORANT is a good example but also a hard one. The reason it is a hard one is that the game is in a closed beta state, and known exploits have been addressed relatively quickly. Thankfully, Riot has been diligent in fixing their game, but if they weren't, man, oh man, what a wild ride VALORANT would be.

The most obvious example I can point out is when it was discovered that Cypher's camera could hold a weapon. Cypher is one of the best Agents in VALORANT and is often picked. He has the ability to place a camera and look through it to call out or tag enemies with a tracker dart. It was discovered that you could throw a weapon to the camera, and it would hold it, and allow you to shoot it when looking through the camera. Once this exploit went viral, almost every Cypher player was doing it. Sure, if it would have stayed in the game, players would have adjusted and been on the lookout for it, but that doesn't make it any less powerful. That exploit is like having a sixth player in some ways, one you can place almost anywhere, and it can't be countered or prevented; it can only be answered by an unfavorable reaction.

You would think that something so blatantly broken would be avoided by players, but, unfortunately, that's not the case. There were many instances where I was watching fl0m-- a popular Twitch streamer who mains Cypher-- and his team would ask if he knew about the exploit and why he wasn't doing it. Thankfully, fl0m recognized that it wouldn't remain in the game, and he didn't want to abuse something that powerful and unintended anyway.


I know my advice will fall on many deaf ears, but I sincerely hope that this will shed some light on the unfavorable outcomes of abusing broken, unintended things in gaming. There are gamers out there who will use any and every advantage to gain an edge and win the match, but I hope they realize the damage they are doing to their game in that process when those advantages are blatantly broken. I am someone who tends to follow the meta and use those weapons, but I am not someone who will use obvious exploits and busted weapons. That's not me getting on my high horse. It's just who I am, and I have seen first hand what abusing those things does to a community and game.


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