Power Creep


A term used in any kind of multi-player game (including Video Games, Collectible Card Game, and Tabletop Games) to describe the process in which newly-added-content can be played along with the old-content, but with the new content being far more powerful/useful in every sense. This process leaves old-content completely worthless, save for a few exceptions and for Cherry Tapping.

This makes sense, at least from a monetary point of view. New-added-content requires people to actually buy it and use it, but why would they use their money to buy some obscure thing they don't know how to use (yet) if they can keep on using their awesome Infinity +1 Sword by paying 5 mana? Easy, make every new content item an Inifinity+2 Sword which requires 3 mana to work. And the same will happen in the next expansion, with an Infinity+3 Sword that only costs 2 mana.

The thing is that this gets out of hand really easy, particularly in a Long Runner. After four or five expansions, with the new Infinity+8 Swords that gives you 10 free mana, there is little point in using the Inifinity+3 Sword that cost 2 mana, and let's not talk about the lame Infinity+1 Sword that cost 5 mana! (Who'd ever use that, anyway?)

A Power Creep virtually always leads to a Broken Base, with the most "conservative" players stating that the new unbalanced content is an insult to the original game (which might be true or not, depending on the case). On the other hand, there will always be players who like these new add-ons, saying that it actually makes the game more fun to play.

Have in mind though that as a general rule, Power Creep has a negative connotation. The reason behind it is that, while there may be some few exceptions, it usually shows that the producers were unable to come up with something interesting and balanced, instead resorting to creating an over-powered add on. Power Creep also tends to lead a game beyond its pre-defined limits, with one of two results: it will becomes a competition of mindless speed, or of predictable slow strategies.

This trope is the Gameplay Mechanics counterpart to Sequel Escalation and Serial Escalation, which refers to narrative or thematic elements.

Compare with Revenue-Enhancing Devices. So Last Season applies to non-gaming examples of this trope. The complete opposite of Promotional Powerless Piece of Garbage, which is a new content which is actually unusable.

This concept is discussed along with ways to circumvent it by Extra Credits here and again here, here, and here.

Not to be confused with Power Creep, Power Seep.


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  • Nerf Brand guns come in Gatling models now. The old ones obviously do not hold up.
  • Figurines from Monster in My Pocket originally had a value between five and twenty five, but by the time the fourth set was out these had ballooned into the triple digits.
  • Perfect monsters were what everyone wanted in the original Digimon V-pets. The pendulums added Ultimate monsters, which were better than the supposedly "perfect" ones. Later editions added Super Ultimate monsters, which were superior to the supposedly "ultimate" ones.
  • The MicroStars series - a set of collectable Football player figurines that could be used in a tabletop football game, suffered badly from this. When the first series of players were released, Gold-base players (the strongest and rarest) would have their five stats total around 50-60 with no stat being higher than maybe 15. By the time the figures stopped being sold in shops, Gold-base players could have stats of 25 across the board...and then there were the new Black-base players who were even stronger (and rarer).

     Tabletop Games (Not Card Games) 
  • BattleTech is a prime example due to the setting's moving timeline. The series originally started with a baseline of weaponry and equipment utilized by the Inner Sphere during 3025. As the years advance, lighter and more effective technology from the fallen Star League is gradually (re-)introduced, tremendously shifting the Metagame in favor of them. There was a stretch of years when almost every new BattleMech featured at least one of the following: CASE, Double Heat Sinks, ER PPC's, Extralight Engines, and Gauss Rifles. Everything is completely turned on it's side after an invasion by the Clans, who possess a slew of super advance technology and battlefield tactics never seen before. The Jihad introduces even more changes to the status quo: superheavy 'Mechs, DropShips that can destroy WarShips, cybernetic MechWarriors, and various Doomsday Device weaponry (up to and including a planet killer mass driver). The ongoing Dark Ages is sure to bring more changes.
  • This can happen even within Editions of Dungeons & Dragons (between Editions is debatable, as a new Edition often means a whole new general game design). In the case of 3.5, Feats and Magic Items from later books in that Edition's print run were much more useful and efficient than earlier counterparts.
    • On the flip side, the single most imbalanced book in 3.5 is the Player's Handbook. Out of the 80+ official books for 3.5, there are 6, maybe 7 Tier 1 classes. Three of those classes come from The Player's Handbook, the very first book. New books tended to become more balanced over time because the game designers had more practice and experience.
  • Pathfinder suffers from this trope in at least two ways: one specific and the other generalized. The latter is thanks to Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards. Newer material for melee classes does not match the Game Breaker combinations spell casting classes are capable of, which is often summed up by jaded pro-melee members of the community as, "fighters can't have nice things." The argument is that each new book leaves melee classes farther behind the already impressive spellcaster power curve. This is especially noticeable with certain official Paizo adventures, as the "final boss" to a high level campaign is either a full caster or has inherent abilities that negate spells to keep up with the Metagame. A more direct example is the Pathfinder Unchained rule book, that offers revisions to making melee classes vastly more powerful than their vanilla original versions (via the new addition of Combat Feats), to help mitigate the perceived Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards problem.
  • Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000:
    • This is usually a problem with any codex that hasn't seen an update in a long time. The Dark Eldar and Necron codexes were infamous for this for a long time, as they were the oldest codexes not to be updated (the Dark Eldar had, at one point, gone 10 years without an update. That's almost 3 whole editions) and currently the Bretonnia book is suffering from this as well (Their old perk was being able to field a full-cavalry army with a special regiment formation, now they just have the unique regiment formation that, due to the new rules, doesn't actually do much for them and can actually be a handicap).
    • A curious case of this happened with the Dark Angels and Black Templar 4th edition codexes. The Dark Angels, at the time, was part of a new wave of Space Marines; the cost of transports were reduced and they were given the Combat Squad rules as well as Characters who could change the force organization. This later all became moot when the standard Space Marine Codex got most of these (except for the all-Terminator army) and became completely moot when the Space Wolves gained Logan Grimnar (who could make all-Terminator armies). Black Templars, meanwhile, became the only Space Marine Codex to not have access to any of these perks during the duration of 5th edition. When 6th Edition hit, their codex instead got dropped and merged into the standard Space Marine codex.
    • The scope of the game also has drastically changed. In 2nd Edition, an Eldar Guardian is suppose to be considered heavily armored and Fast, as they possessed a 5+ armor while still being able to run. In 3rd edition, the swarm-unit Termagants cost 8 points and needed upgrades, but was still classed as a swarm creature. In the current meta, a model costing 8-10 points had to have either a fantastic gun, decent armor, high toughness, or some combination thereof. The Termagant, meanwhile, was reduced to half the points without reduction in any of its combat abilities, but despite that it's now considered one of the least competitive units unless paired with it's support unit the Tervigon. Similarly, Eldar Guardians are considered to have paper-thin armor, and their running ability has become near-universal (Eldar just run faster).
    • The advent of D-Weapons, Superheavy vehicles and Gargantuan Creatures. All of these introduced new rules on top of existing rules, because they are suppose to be so powerful that the current statistic system couldn't accurately represent them without exceptions. D-Weapons in particular, as they're suppose to be literally Up to Eleven as the Strength value only goes up to 10. As of 7th edition, they have all been incorporated into the base rulebook, whereas previously they were exclusive to the Apocalypse supplement.

     Trading Card Games  
  • Magic: The Gathering has had this show up so frequently that a slang term, "strictly better," has sprung up for it. Card A is "strictly better" than Card B when they are identical in most parameters, and in the ones where they're different Card A has a clear advantage, meaning that Card A is preferable to Card B in almost all situations. (Quick example: Lightning Bolt costs 1 mana and deals 3 damage where Shock does only 2; Lightning Strike does 3, but costs 2 mana.) Here is a very incomplete list of cards that fit the "strictly better" comparison. In total fairness, the game is over 20 years and 14,000 cards old, which—perhaps more than anything else—simply suggests that Power Creep is inevitable.
    • Additionally, some of the drift has been deliberate. The overall pattern in Magic: The Gathering has been creatures growing in strength, with spells weakening, because when the game first came out, Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards was in full effect. The infamous Power Nine were early cards considered to be the most powerful effects in the game (despite all but one of them being fairly boring in effect). Six of them are mana sources, but the other three are all spells. There are no creatures in the Power Nine. And if you click on that link and go to the list of Magic's Game Breakers, you'll note that very few of them are creatures.
      • Force Of Nature was originally the biggest creature in the game, a 8/8 (for 6 mana) that you need to keep paying mana to in order to keep alive. Nowadays, Terra Stomper—a strictly better version with a more flexible casting cost, the upkeep drawback removed, and a small perk added—is considered too weak to play in competition. Additionally, compare Serra Angel, a creature that was at one point removed from the core set for being too powerful, to Baneslayer Angel, which lacks one of Serra Angel's traits (Vigilance) but replaces it with a metric crap-ton of other stuff.
      • On the other hand, the reason the aforementioned Shock exists is that Lightning Bolt was too powerful, and was deliberatey nerfed. Likewise, Counterspell has been phased out in favor of Cancel, which (again) does the same thing but costs one mana more.
    • Blue's card-draw powers get nerfed periodically and still manage to be metagame-defining.
    • Wizards of the Coast has also identified complexity creep as an issue. The rules needed to deal with ten thousand different cards make for an imposing document. The spiraling increases in complexity put the game at risk of being impossible for any potential customer to understand. To combat this, they created Type 2 (or Standard), which is theoretically immune to both power creep and complexity creep as only the last two years of cards are allowed, so that power creep/seep relative to older cards doesn't matter.
    • After the general increase in the power of creatures and the scaling back of spells years back, Wizards tries to avoid the level of power creep that other CCGs tend to suffer by temporarily increasing the power of one type of effect, but scaling it back later to focus on another aspect.
    • The generally-agreed-upon theory as to why creatures suddenly became extremely useful around 2003-2004 was that, for the first 10 years of the game's life, creatures were largely a total waste of mana. While a few were actually considered "good," like Morphling and Psychatog ("Superman" and "Doctor Teeth" respectively), the vast, vast majority were considered plainly useless compared to Enchantments, Instants, Sorceries, and even Lands... to the point that most top-tier Type 1 and Type 1.5 decks (now called Vintage and Legacy Formats) were creatureless, or had either Superman or Dr. Teeth as the win-condition. WOTC vastly overestimated the effect that creatures had on the game outside of Limited and Standard, and around 8th Edition realized that they needed to make Creatures relevant. What ensued was massive power creep of creatures that were intensely mana-efficient, so that they would be considered just as useful as other card types. It worked: it is now very rare for Modern, Legacy, and Vintage decks to contain no creatures, but at the same time they aren't the bulk of most decks, either, with most decks playing between 8 and 18 creatures.
    • Finally, it should be pointed out that "Strictly better" cards almost always have another downside: they're more expensive, especially in cases like Lightning Bolt vs Shock where the more powerful card was deliberately nerfed. How much more expensive? In this case, ten times more (25¢ vs $2.50). And let's not even talk about the value difference between Serra and Baneslayer Angels.note 
  • The Pokémon Trading Card Game similarly raises the bar for each generation. In the 1st generation, Stage 2 Pokémon (Pokémon who have evolved twice, like Charizard) were lucky to have 120 HP. In the 5th generation, Basic Pokémon (Pokémon who don't evolve or haven't evolved) get published with this much HP or more in every set, with evolved Pokémon approaching 200 HP. Attacks have since increased in damage and Energy costs too. It has gotten to where Base Set Venusaur's "Energy Trans," which allows free transfer of Energy between Pokémon, was a near Game Breaker in the card game's earliest days but the later Meganium Prime from HeartGold/SoulSilver, which has the same power, was quickly brushed aside for quicker and more powerful cards.
    • Inverted with Trainer Cards, which seem to get progressively worse as time goes on. In the original Base Set, you had a lot of draw power by using four copies each of Professor Oak, Bill, Computer Search, and Item Finder. Nowadays, cards with those effects are printed only as Supporter cards (you can only use them once per turn) or ACE SPEC cards (you can only have one in your deck), thus drastically limiting their potential.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! suffers heavily from Power Creep corresponding with the release of each new anime. The idea is that, to make the new game mechanics and wealth of new cards playable, they have to be stronger than what's already available. Most of the old cards that are still used tend to be "staples". This is sometimes subverted through the Forbidden & Limited List which attempts to balance the game out and can sometimes make older cards useful again.
    • The addition of new ways to Special Summon monsters(specifically, Synchro and Xyz) represent a major form of Power Creep. In the old days of Yu-Gi-Oh!, certain Special Summons (Fusions and Ritual monsters) required their own cards for set-up(such as Polymerization, Fusion Material monsters, or the Ritual Magic Card), and generally could not be as easily deployed. The metagame tended to favor powerful single-Tribute monsters at highest(such as Summoned Skull). Nowadays, the right deck set-up can swarm the field with Special Summoned level 7 or 8 monsters.
    • A common criticism of the game is that, unlike Pokémon and Magic the Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh! lacks any "Standard" format - a format that would only allow players to use cards from the last "n" sets. This has caused a constantly-fluctuating and extensive banned list, as well as older cards completely breaking the new Summon types.
      • The lack of 'standard' format is justified due to Konami periodically assessing the banlist, removing some older cards from it, since the meta game has changed. For example, in 2015, Raigeki (a spell with the effect to wipe out all opponent's monsters on the field without cost) was removed from the banned list, because most modern decks can handle getting hit by one due to easiness of special summoning in the meta-game than compared to the past.
    • For example, Magical Scientist, which was long considered vastly inferior to Cyber-Stein (because MS only allowed you to summon level 1-6 Fusion monsters that died at the end of the turn and couldn't attack your opponent directly, while Stein allowed you to permanently summon ANY 1 Fusion monster), is now considered one of, if not THE, most broken creature in the game, because he can - by himself - summon-spam Fusion monster after Fusion monster, as his lifepoint cost is FAR lower than that of Cyber Stein.note  This became a problem when combined with Catapult Turtle, who can launch the monsters at the opponent directly for damage (and there are enough Fusion Monsters with just enough ATK to kill the opponent before you ran out of life points) or overlay them to form an army of Xyz Monsters. Though he is squarely on the Banned list in Advanced Format, if a Standard Format were instituted, there wouldn't even need to be a Banned List that has him on it.
      • A more positive example is Relinquished. When it came out in the third-ever set, it was pretty good, but it quickly fell off the radar - it was a Ritual Monster, which made it a bit too tricky to Summon to be worth it, and its effect (absorb an opponent's monster and gain its ATK and DEF) wasn't quite as amazing as it sounded. Then there came Preparation of Rites, which made drawing Relinquished and his Ritual Spell very easy... then Mystic Piper, which made it even easier... then Kinka-Byo, which let you repeatedly revive Relinquished and Mystic Piper... then Djinn Releaser of Rituals, which, if used to Summon Relinquished, let Relinquished negate all your opponent's Special Summons and could be used from the Graveyard. Even better, Relinquished's absorbing effect is surprisingly good in the current metagame, because it's technically not a destruction effect and therefore bypasses most traditional defenses. The result is that Relinquished, a card currently fourteen years old, can still perform well in niche decks.
    • And then there is the "Traditional" format that is used in some unofficial tournaments, which does not operate under the banned list. The thing is entirely dominated by FTK decks and old ones have about just as much chance to win as new ones. You could say that this format perfectly determines how broken some cards actually are.
    • Back the heyday of the original Yu-Gi-Oh!, Black Luster Soldier - Envoy of the Beginning was considered completely broken: being able to summon itself by banishing 1 light and 1 dark monster from the graveyard, thus putting a 3000 atk monster onto the field who can then either banish 1 monster in play or attack twice (but not both). This required: 1) at least 1 Dark and 1 Light Monster in your graveyard, 2) BLS-EOTD in your Hand. This meant that you had to have: 1)around 8+ Light monsters and around 8+ Dark Monsters in your deck so as to consistently draw them, 2) discard or sac outlets to get them into the graveyard, 3)some way to reliably draw your ONE BLS-EOTB, because you were only allowed to have 1. Cut to modern times: Number S39 - Utopia The Lightning can be summoned by simply having any two level 4 monsters in play to summon Utopia from your Extra Deck, who then by himself summons Utopia the Lightning from the Extra Deck. Utopia the Lightning doesn't allow any cards or effects to be activated during combat (so no flip effects, no mirror force, magical cylinders, etc.), and can increase his attack from 2500 to 5000 by dropping two Xyz Material Monsters when either attacking or defending. Many many level 4 monsters self-summon or summon a buddy directly from the deck or hand, so having even 1 monster in your hand is almost guaranteed to get out UTL immediately, because you always have access to every card in your Extra Deck. By the way, You're STILL only allowed to have 1 BLS-EOTB, but you're allowed to have 3 copies of UTL...
    • The game's Power Creep is so infamous, these days, it's become somewhat of a poster boy for Power Creep in tabletop games. The most infamous example from the ARC-V era has to be Zoodiacs, an archetype designed to be so powerful that many Japanese card shops refused to have them legal in their tournaments out of protest. When Zoodiacs were released, the OCG metagame consisted of nothing else than Zoodiac decks and Zoodiac hybrid decks. This example has become so infamous that many are using as an example of how not to design an archetype for a cardgame, and why Power Creep in games can be a very, very bad thing.
  • One of the (many) Dragon Ball Z trading card games saw this to an extreme degree with its very first expansion. The base set was overall pretty balanced - the more powerful characters had limitations, and sub-par combat cards in the set served as a balancing factor for specialized "style decks" due to the restricted card selection of those decks. Then the first expansion came out, and introduced characters with power levels several times those of the base sets cards, and combat cards that were flat-out better than previous cards with no trade-offs. The second expansion set introduced new versions of the basic characters with power levels so much higher as to make the original version worthless. And it went on from there. While this does follow the course of Dragon Ball Z's story (which is essentially Power Creep manifest), it represents a complete failure of Gameplay and Story Segregation.
  • As new cards were introduced to Hearthstone, Power Creep inevitably followed. For example, when released Piloted Shredder was so much more powerful than any existing four mana minion that in most cases it became the only card worth playing at that cost. The following expansion had to include several cards designed specifically to counter it because the card had become so dominant. Extra Credits discusses this specific case in detail here.
    • Players actually called this with two cards introduced in The Grand Tournament expansion: Evil Heckler is exactly the same as Booty Bay Bodyguard (A 5-Mana 5/4 minion with Taunt), but costs 1 Mana less, and Ice Rager marginally beats out the infamously bad Magma Rager in usefulness by the merit of having a single point of Health more than Magma Rager (as a 5/2, as opposed to a 5/1). This was acknowledged by Blizzard, and even parodied (see below). However, as pointed out by Extra Credits, Neither Magma Rager nor Booty Bay Bodyguard ever saw use except as throwaways by new players who didn't have anything better.
    • Blizzard seems to be addressing the Power Creep issue with the introduction of Standard format, which forbids older expansions from being used. Coincidentally, the two expansions that are first being rotated out of the format (Curse of Naxxramas and Goblins vs. Gnomes) contains many of the most dominant cards in the game since. It also ensures that even new and possibly overpowered cards will eventually get cycled out, or at least possibly receive indirect nerfs by removing older cards that had strong synergy with newer ones. For example, Mysterious Challenger, the single-most notorious card at the moment, got less powerful with the removal of Avenge and Muster for Battle. note 
    • Parodied in Whispers of the Old Gods with Am'gam Rager. As the name implies, it's the aforementioned Magma Rager in reverse, and it's flavor text is "peerc rewop". The joke is that a 1/5 is for three mana is about as bad as a 5/1.
  • In Cardfight!! Vanguard, to see pure Power Creep in action, just look at how mechanics have progressed - at first, we had normal grade 3 units. Then, we got Limit Break and Break Rides, the former of which commonly added 5000 power to the vanguard, and the latter adding 10000. Legion kept the roughly-10000 power increase but eased up the activation conditions, as well as giving it to the vanguard for the entire time they are in Legion, not just the Break Ride turn. Now we have Striding, which adds 15000 power to the vanguard's attacking power, and it's fairly difficult to not be able to Stride at all. However the next mechanic works, it's a safe bet that it will add 20000 power to your vanguard.
    • It's present on the other end of the scale as well; first, every card was either 5000 shield or 10000 shield. Slowly, more units came out that could go from 5000 to 10000 shield, as well as being passable units in their own right (if not amazing). The G-era gave most clans a card which was worth 15000 shield once a condition was met. Now, we get G-guardians, which are always the full 15000 shield, as well as adding all sorts of useful abilities (including gaining even more shield) on top.
      • Perfect shields/null guards/complete shields have had their own style of creep. The base units were able to stop any attack by discarding a card. Newer versions only did it for your vanguard (i.e. the only unit that usually gets attacked with huge enough numbers to warrant a perfect shield anyway), but gave you a counterblast back if there was another copy of itself in the drop. Now, keyword perfect shields frequently lose the reflip ability, but give you some way to bounce back to the hand from the field, letting you use it as an actual unit without sacrificing the ability to defend from high-power attacks at all.
    • Costs in general for abilities also lower over time. What once cost three counterblast now is free with new support, as well as adding 10000 power on top to make sure the front row gets pummelled... And even that wasn't even good enough to play, on release.

    Video Games 
  • This happens a lot in each Civilization game with each expansion pack. As new mechanics are added, older civilizations may not be able to perform the same play style as effectively, while new civilizations may have unique units, buildings, and abilities that seriously outclass those from the vanilla game.
    • In Civ V, America's unique ability, "Manifest Destiny", cuts the cost of buying tiles in half (and gives all land units +1 sight, a comparatively minor buff). Come the Brave New World expansion, you have the Shoshone's unique ability, "Great Expanse", which gives every newly-founded city eight free tiles and gives military units a combat bonus when fighting on friendly territory (i.e. on the home front). This thoroughly outclassed America's unique ability, which many fans felt should have been beefed up in Brave New World to make up for it. One of America's unique units, the Minuteman, did get a minor buff (it now generates Golden Age points from victories), but not enough to compensate.
    • Also from V, the Aztecs did not get a rework in Brave New World. Before that, their unique ability, "Sacrificial Captives", giving them Culture for kills meant that they could be used to pursue a Cultural Victory (which involved accumulating culture points and using them to buy social policies), counterintuitive though it might seem. Under the Tourism system introduced by Brave New World, which heavily redesigned the Culture system, including Cultural Victories, that is no longer possible.
    • The big one in V, though, is India. Their unique ability, "Population Growth", is the only one that carries a penalty: namely, it doubles unhappiness from the number of cities, with the fact that it halves unhappiness from total population (a very powerful buff) making up for it. It was crafted with the intention of building a very "tall" nation with a small handful of very densely-populated and built-up cities, which was optimal for a Cultural Victory in the vanilla game (more cities increases the culture cost of social policies). Brave New World, however, changed Cultural Victories such that a large empire is now preferable, precisely the sort of thing that India's unique ability pulls against. The result is that one of the best empires for a Culture Victory in the vanilla game and Gods & Kings becomes a Tier-Induced Scrappy in Brave New World.
    • The fact that this trope was averted with Arabia and France in V, who both had their unique abilities completely redesigned for Brave New World to take advantage of the new systems in place (and in France's case, also got a new unique improvement to go with it), was especially stinging. Many fans felt that what was done with Arabia and France should've been a model for how to redesign other civs whose abilities were made redundant by new civs or changes to gameplay mechanics.
  • Command & Conquer has this, at least up to Generals and its expansion, although it is only noticeable in the code and seems to be limited to infantry hitpoints and weapon damage. Infantry became more resilient as the series progressed. For example, basic infantry in the first two games having 40 hitpoints, while by the time of Tiberian Sun it had tripled to 120 and by the time of Generals, at least the American basic infantryman has 180 HP, all the while maintaining the same damage output. Curiously, vehicle/tank HP has stayed fairly consistent throughout the games. This has made infantry increasingly effective combat units next to armored vehicles. On the other hand, tank weapon damage has seen a similar progression, with the light tank's gun of the first two games entirely abandoned by Tiberian Sun, while the previous medium tank gun became that game's lightest gun. By the time Red Alert 2 rolled around, the lightest tank gun in common use is the gun used on heavy tanks in the second game, plus a hefty damage upgrade, while Red Alert 2's heavy tanks used the gun caliber (although with only one barrel instead of two) previously used on "Mammoth" super-heavy tanks in the first two games... and the new super-heavy Apocalypse Tank got an entirely new weapon with an even higher damage output.
  • Dungeon Fighter Online is pretty good on this matter but some of it still occurs mainly with higher caps making some of the lengthy quest for gear at a certain point useless to some new subclasses and class tweaks being quite strong but they don't remain that way for long. It's rumored that some of the recent tweaking (in regards to the game's raid content) in the korean version threatens to invoke this on a massive scale.
  • Elsword is pretty bad about this in both releasing overpowered new content and the nerfing of things, often resulting in an uneven level of power. Like the League of Legends example, people suspect the new classes are overpowered to cause people to buy class change items to change them. All the while they're very slow to really bring up older classes/characters up to speed to the newer ones. Tellingly, despite being a Character Title game, players of Elsword -the first character on the roster- are vanishingly rare in the end-game.
  • Final Fantasy XI is fairly good on this track since the release of the Abyssea expansion, first raising the maximum player level from 75 to 99 and then providing equipment that "simulates" player levels well above 100 by equipping it (in the later Adoulin expansion). While previous expansions did provide increases in equipment, those were mostly marginal or situational, but newer equipment has escalated on the improvements to such a degree that, for example, the legendary "Pandemonium Warden" boss (which gained some notoriety outside the community) can now be beaten by a single player, and there seems to be no end in sight, with nearly monthly updates that add new equipment (compared to the previous policy of roughly two updates a year that mostly fixed bugs or other issues). The developers have attempted (and at times succeeded) in keeping older content up-to-date by creating copies of it with higher statistics and level requirements and consequently level-appropriate rewards. The game's population has continued to decrease on many servers, but whether that is because of a case of "Broken Base" or despite the changes made by the developers is hard to say.
  • Kingdom of Loathing has the "Item of the Month", purchasable in the cash shop (or with loads of in game money) which serve as the game's source of revenue. These items are usually the most powerful thing you could put in the 'slot' that it occupies, with several slots only being usable by these items. The items need to be worth purchasing for even old players, and so a small amount of this can certainly be seen as time goes on. However, a fair amount of the power creep owes to the very idea of what these items were allowed to do, as early items were just mildly buffed versions of existent items, or else just a bit more versatile or fun. Later items are much more powerful, in general, than early items because of a change in design philosophy to make these items much more unique, which usually translates in practice to more powerful.
    • The developers are somewhat keen on averting this, however, although the limited availability of these items doesn't help matters. Some particularly popular old items have been 're-released' in different forms. In some cases, they provide the same 'important' option as before, but with some minor differences. New players can more easily obtain the useful item, and old players (who are generally obsessed with gaining every advantage they can) will find a way for the slight differences to give them a reason to use both. On the other hand, there have been instances where the new versions are almost complete upgrades, obviating the need for the old versions.
    • Kingdom of Loathing, however, is for the most part a single player game. As such, it manages to avoid a lot of the problems generally caused by this trope. Players without a single Item of the Month can happily play the game, and still share quite a few strategies with those who own every single one, since the only real competition is indirect, and there's no need to worry about those who have been around longer and spent more money ruining the fun of those who aren't willing to spend money themselves.
    • Many of the boss drops in the expanded Sea quest are unambiguously better than anything that came before them. The Stick-Knife is one of the most ridiculous: its +200% Spell Damage property is equivalent to the highest-end magic staffs, but the Knife is not a magic staff, comes with additional powerful add-ons that staffs don't have, and can, unlike staffs, be dual-wielded.
    • The game also has the unusual problem of "adventure creep." Its Anti-Poop Socking mechanism limits the turns available per day, but there's no hard limit, and many items allow you to gain extra turns—rare or expensive ones tend to be more efficient. Some things directly increase the free chunk of turns you'll get the next day, or allow you to do certain things more times per day...as you'd expect, this leads to people spending more and more time on the game, and the developers aren't sure if this is a good thing or not.
  • League of Legends is a Free To Play Multiplayer Online Battle Arena that updates frequently, usually accompanied with new characters. Accusations of this concept happening to the game are frequent and its developers have made it clear they are seized on avoiding letting the issue pop up. Nerfs regularly happen in updates to the point that some players accuse the developer of releasing characters Purposely Overpowered to cause players who like winning to flock buying them with Microtransactions and then Nerf them in the next patch to placate their fanbase after raking in cash for a few weeks. That being said, numerous characters have been newly released with players responding loudly and surely that they're completely underpowered. While power creep has definitely set in over the years, Riot does seem to be making an effort to keep it from getting out of hand, which is best evidenced by their tendency to nerf strong champs rather than buff weak ones (as an overabundance of buffs tends to lead to the game turning into a trigger-happy crowd control and burst-fest).
    • A particular example where the developers think have failed to avoid the trope are many melee-range "fighter" characters being "overtuned". In a game where being melee-ranged potentially means up to five enemy players can attack you at once while you won't be in range to attack back those with range themselves any more than one at a time at best, some developers have noted they believe new fighters created responded to that by making characters that tend to naturally have sustained healing potential, movement-hampering crowd-control effects, high durability, good damage, and low cooldown "gap-closer" abilities to quickly place them next to targets (compared to movement-speed increasing abilities that still force the user to run up to targets and are countered by slowing effects) with little chance for the ranged characters to avoid them without the help of allies or having some ability like the gap-closer but used by the character to widen the gap instead. In other words, the only obvious drawback to them is they are not ranged, especially when earlier examples of fighters tended to have some clear lack of one of these aspects. A sentiment among some of the game's players similarly believe "gap-closer/gapcloser"s as a concept is overused by newer characters, numerous popular characters have them, and this has caused a "mobility creep" in new releases. To be fair, a lot more of the mobility options are conditional or otherwise involve some amount of risk, which is better than the targeted blink gap closers or click-and-escape abilities that used to be far more numerous.
  • Power creep has taken form in Grand Theft Auto: Online's multiple years of content updates. Here are a few examples:
    • Car performance has been slowly escalating as the game has gone on, although with super cars the slowly part doesn't really apply. When the game was released the out of all the super cars released with the game, only the Adder is still technically the best in its given skill set and its not by much. Cars like the entity and Zentorno (which itself made several super cars obsolete when ti was introduced) were surpassed by newer DLC cars like the Osiris and T20. After these cars came the X80 proto which functionally dethroned the Adder as faster car in the game while also having incredible acceleration and handling. After that came the cunning stunts cars,which had lower speed and or acceleration but even better handling than the X80.
    • Better and better ways to make money have come out as the game has progressed. First grinding contact missions were the only real way to make the big bucks without resorting to shark cards. The heist were finally released giving the players access to huge payouts and shattering the standard set by contact missions. Ten Ceo work added to the game which boasted even greater money making in the same amount of time at the cost of being much riskier due to both investment in product and by virtue of taking place in free roam lobbies. Then Motorcycle club businesses were released which don't offer quite the same money for total time but requite a far less active roll and don't require the player to risk investment in product. After that Import Exporting was introduced with an even safer and faster way to make money than the MC businesses.
  • There have been complaints that the co-op portion of Mass Effect 3 is feeling the effects of this, with accusations that each expansion's new weapons and character classes are deliberately overpowered compared to the vanilla ones in order to encourage spending more in-game credits/Microsoft Points on equipment packs.
  • Pokémon:
    • Pokémon stat spreads slowly became more specialized as time went on. Those that could be seen as Lightning Bruisers in Red and Blue became Jacks-Of-All-Stats as more Min-Maxing was done by the designers. In Pokémon X and Y, it reached its zenith with Mega Evolutions, which are explicitly designed to be on par with the series's Olympus Mons with less stat points to go around. The Ultra Beasts in Pokémon Sun and Moon are like the Mega Evolutions in certain ways too, with some extreme and specialized stat differences—Kartana, for instance, has one of the highest Attack in the game but its Special Defense is awfully poor.
    • A similar situation also occurs with Abilities (passive effects that Pokémon possess). An ability that was introduced in Gen III, the generation that abilities as a concept was introduced, would provide something simple: For example, the ability Water Veil would prevent the Pokémon from receiving a burn. An ability that was introduced later might provide the same effect plus something extra: Water Bubble (an ability introduced in Gen VII) not only prevents burns, but also halves the damage received from fire attacks and double the power of water attacks (this effect isn't even mentioned in its in-game description).
    • Pokémon is also a subversion in that many monsters from early versions of the game also frequently get new moves, abilities, evolutions and other changes to mechanics that make them much more playable. One such change was dividing all attacks into being physical or special, rather than one or the other based on its type. This allowed many Pokemon to make better use of their attacking stats.
  • Hits the later MechWarrior games. In MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries, the mechs added by MekTek when the game became Freeware are often blatantly better in many roles than the vanilla mechs. In Living Legends, the later added mechs are better overall than the older mechs due to superior chassis characteristics and often better variants - though the older mechs were buffed to competitiveness in the final update. Power Creep will be a game mechanic in Online, which takes place right at the time when Lost Technology is being rediscovered, and when the Clans invade with their superior technology - the old mechs with 3025 tech will be curb-stomped by the later 3049 or 3050 series of mechs.
  • Team Fortress 2 almost always subverts this; virtually all unlockable weapons have downsides (the few exceptions are gimmick melee weapons). Anything that's considered a must-have tends to be a utility item that doesn't replace your primary weapon, such as the Heavy's Sandvich (replacement for shotgun) which they use to heal their Medics, the Sniper's Jarate (replacement for SMG) which gives the character a team player tactic, and the Red-Tape Recorder (replacement for the Sapper) which makes the Spy an absolute nuisance to the Engineers.
  • Found all over the place in the Mario & Luigi and Paper Mario series. To elaborate:
    • In Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, the weakest enemy has 4 HP, the first big boss has either 30 or 50 HP depending on which one you count, and the final boss has 1200 HP. In Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, the weakest enemy has 8 HP, the first boss has between 96 and 288 HP depending on which you count, and the final boss has 2417 HP. Bros Attacks, Badge effects and gear have also got progressively more powerful as the series has progressed. Averted with Battle Ring/Gauntlet bosses (the ones in Bowser's Inside Story are stronger) and Partners in Time's later bosses (which are harder than those in the last two games).
    • This is easy to spot in Paper Mario, with the first game's weakest 'real' boss having 10 HP, Thousand-Year Door's having either 12 or 20 HP, Super Paper Mario's having 20 or more HP and Sticker Star's having 90 HP. The final bosses also have 99 HP, 150 HP, 200 HP and 500 HP respectively. The power of most attacks also went up in each game.
    • Though all of these are cases of Power Seep when compared to the forerunner to both of those series, Super Mario RPG had numbers similar to other RPGs of the time and even now: the player's HP caps at 999, enemies can have upwards of four digits, and the strongest attack does 9999 damage.
  • MapleStory takes this trope and runs with it. Character power levels in the newest version are astronomical compared to those in the original but to their credit Wizet often overhauls old classes to the point where they can at least keep up with the latest big thing.
  • This has been a problem with Star Trek Online concerning PVP as the game keeps tossing more and more starships with stronger weapons and abilities. The worst of the bunch is the Romulan Scimitar warbird. Outfitted the right way, you could essentially one-man an Elite PVE match and dominate PVP. In the same vein, people use this as to dump the Galaxy-class and Galaxy-X-class ships as this as they focus more on tanking than actual DPS, leading to them thinking of it as "useless".
    • Star Trek Online has had this problem since the arrival of the Romulans in the first expansion Legacy of Romulus. Romulan Bridge Officers have the ability "Subterfuge", with makes them fearsome when coming out of cloaking as they get a hefty damage bonus doing so. Getting an entire set of Bridge Officers with the better "Superior Subterfuge" means you can wreck things immediately coming out of cloak. It gets worse as many players will tell you that, if you want to get the best effect, have your Romulan character choose to side with the Klingon Defense Force as they'll tell you that their Vandal Destroyer (which includes the power level-booster Plasmonic Leech) and the Romulans' Valdore-class (which include the shield regenerating Shield Absorptive Frequency Generator) makes you a fearsome foe.
    • The Tier 6 ships introduced in the second expansion Delta Rising has seen calls of this, especially towards older ships as they include an extra console slot, an extra Bridge Officer power slot, involve new powers and include abilities that make you even stronger.
  • Warframe suffers from this a lot for two main reasons. First, the game's mechanics are constantly getting refined and overhauled, but older equipment rarely gets revisited to make it work with the new mechanics. Second, there's the reason most power creep occurs: the developers want the new equipment to be relevant. Here are a few notable examples:
    • Before Update 13, heavy weapons ruled the melee world thanks to their powerful charge attacks. When Melee 2.0 removed charge attacks, heavy weapons didn't get anything in return, leading them to get outclassed by faster weapons which could be more easily used as mobility tools. Surprisingly, they did get a significant damage boost much later, allowing them to become relevant once again.
    • The Boltor Prime is the most blatant example for primary weapons. Compared to their non-Prime counterparts, most Prime weapons have damage bonus between about 20% and about 40%. The Boltor Prime has a 120% bonus over the Boltor. And unlike most guns its accuracy doesn't suffer much from the damage-boosting Heavy Caliber mod. It's widely considered to be the "default" endgame rifle, to the point where many players dislike it because of how often it gets used. DE seems to have learned their lesson here, since while many primaries since have been on par with it, nothing has outright been able to outclass it.
    • Newer Warframes tend to have more cohesive kits (compare Mirage to Saryn), but the real example is Prime Warframes. Initially, they were fancy reskins with different default polarities and a special interaction with the Death Orbs in the Void. That lasted until the fifth one, Rhino Prime, was released. In an unprecedented move, Rhino Prime had a statistical advantage over his base counterpart: his movement speed had been increased from 0.9 to 1.0. While the change wasn't game-breaking (without an Arcane Vanguard helmet, at least), the damage had been done. The very next Prime, Loki Prime, featured a significant boost to his energy pool, making it the highest in the game at the time. Then Nyx Prime came with two stat boosts, both modest and not especially helpful for her; this didn't stop Nova Prime from getting two significant stat boosts, one of which covered one of her weaknesses and the other of which tied her with Loki Prime for highest energy pool in the game. The real sign that things had gotten out of hand was when Volt Prime not only sextupled his armor, but also doubled his energy pool, putting him above even Loki Prime and Nova Prime. As of Update 16.11, we now have Ash Prime with three moderate stat boosts. Excalibur Prime, Ember Prime, and Frost Prime were later updated to have minor armor or shield buffs over their base variants, but they're still nowhere close to the improvements of later Prime Warframes.
  • Played straight between the first two Fallout games, where all the weapons in the original title were reused for the sequel. The presence of the heavily armored Enclave soldiers meant that classic heavy weapons like the Rocket Launcher, Flamer and Minigun were superseded by the accurate, devastatingly powerful Bozar as a reliable endgame loadout. Energy weapons received a similar treatment, with the rare Pulse Rifle receiving a special 80% Damage Threshold reduction perk that former standbys such as the Laser and Plasma Rifles lacked.
  • World of Warcraft used to have a problem with this with different gear of the same level. The level progression is almost endless — from one to 110 with the sixth Expansion Pack — so obviously old enemies and gear are going to become weak compared to the new. The problem, however, was that the new starting gear from an expansion would be more powerful than the max-level gear from the previous one. Most commonly used are three tiers of gear, Uncommon, Rare, and Epic, in order of increasing power. Starting from the first expansion, people used to say that mere Uncommon gear from the expansion was as powerful as Epics from the original game. This wasn't really true, but the new Uncommon was roughly the same as the old Rare; this gave more incentive to go into the new content, but it also removed incentive to eg. go through the trouble to craft some old Rare items or do some old quests. The same happened between the first and second expansion, and by the third one, it became true that the new Uncommons were as good as the previous Epics. After that, though, they revised all the power levels of everything in the game so that there was no longer any such gap with either the new expansions nor even the old ones. You still don't need to go to old raids to get powerful enough stuff to move into the next expansion, but if you've done it, you'll be overgeared at the start of the expansion.
  • You get this in World of Tanks due to older tanks not being adjusted to new tank stats. For instance, the Super Pershing is a premium Tier 8 medium tank that used to be a decent choice in older builds of the game, trading agility and firepower for amazing frontal defenses. However, with the advent of fast, accurate tanks such as the Panther 58 Mutz and Patton Korea, as well as larger guns with ever-increasing penetration values, the Super Pershing is now considered one of the least favorable, least profitable of the Tier 8 premiums. This also happened to the KV-1 with the introduction of the O-I Experimental, a tank in the same league of armor and firepower but was a good 33% faster even though it was almost twice as heavy. To Wargaming's credit, they did try to buff the Super Pershing back to being a defensive powerhouse and nerfed the O-I series of tanks to make them less ridiculously potent, so they are at least aware enough of the trope to try and head it off.
  • The The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind has this happen in the expansion packs. For example, the natural enemies you encounter in Bloodmoon (such as wolves and bears) are as powerful as enemies you find inside the Ghost Fence in Vvardenfell, home of the 4000 year-old Physical God Big Bad. The expansion also contains some of the few weapons in the entire series which are stronger than Daedric.