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Hey, that magnum was really overpowered before the patch.

"Death hath no sting. NERF, however, is very painful."
— "Things I learned playing MMORPGs, Number 21."

A change to a game that weakens a particular item, ability or tactic. It's usually done to fix something perceived as a Game-Breaker, and is almost always a subject of controversy in gaming communities. Occasionally, it's not a change in one game, but rather a change in an equivalent item, ability, or tactic between one game and its sequel.

In the past, Nerfs for console games were all but impossible due to lacking the ability to patch them. Modern consoles, however, provide this ability, so they now join computer games in this. Many games, especially MMORPGs and other online multiplayer games, are constantly adjusted to maintain balance. Sometimes, that requires taking something powerful down a peg or two. Of course, users of that item will not be amused, and will inevitably flock to the forums to complain, resulting in a Flame War about whether or not the nerf was justified. On the other hand, rants from poor players that something should be nerfed are just as common. Either way, the subject is a touchy one.


A Balance Buff or Revamp is a change for the better. These are as controversial as Nerfs; a Buff or Revamp to one unit's Hit Points is effectively a Nerf to the damage of anything attacking it. A Flame War can even develop on whether a given change is a Buff, Revamp or a Nerf, much less an improvement in the game as a whole.

So why are Nerfs perceived as being such awful things? Well, human beings and even other great apes have a tendency towards loss aversion. For example, if playing a game of chance where you could lose $100, most people would only play if there's also a chance you could also win $200 or more. It works the same way with favorite characters or tactics; perceived losses simply hurt more then perceived wins.

These days, the term has been expanded so that "Nerf" is any downward adjustment, not just an unduly crippling one; similarly, the "Nerf Bat" is no longer what the player is issued to take on The Empire with, but what the developer whacks him with.


Games with Fake Balance often cause flame wars due to nerfs and buffs (and including revamps) implemented.

Has no relationship to "Narf". Distinct from Nerf Arm, which is a weapon that the player can intentionally weaken himself by using. We also have a page on the Nerf Brand of toys from which the name is derived.

Video game examples:

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    Action Adventure 
  • Castlevania:
    • As the series went on, the accessory that got you "infinite" MP has been brought down from "The MP bar doesn't go down" to "The MP bar fills up extremely fast" to "The MP bar fills up pretty fast", so that people cannot use obscene amounts of MP to become invincible, which was the case in some games that had seemingly game-breaking abilities such as healing on the spot.
    • Castlevania: Chronicles of Sorrow lets you use Big Freaking Swords with ease, but by Portrait of Ruin, big weapons have become slower and riskier to use than, say, whips or fists.
    • Holy Water in the original Castlevania and Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse makes for an amazing subweapon against ground enemies, not only dealing continuous damage but also freezing enemies. Combined with triple shots, it might as well replace the whip as the Belmonts' main weapon. It was weakened in future installments; it loses its enemy-freezing capability and, in later titles, has its flame crawl forward a short distance to prevent it from lingering on an enemy.
    • In Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia, the items you find in out of the way places, completing Bonus Dungeons and fulfilling Villager quests, with a few exceptions, are generally not that useful or helpful.. For example, while beating the Bonus Dungeon in Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin netted you the Tome of Arms X and the most powerful item crash in the game, beating Ecclesia's bonus dungeons gave ultimately gave you boots that let you move faster and a crown that boosts every stat by only 2 points. Also, beating the game on a level one cap...simply allowed you to be able to level up to 255 on subsequent play-throughs.
  • Mega Man:
    • The Shadow Blade in Mega Man 3 is often considered the nerfed version of the game breaking Metal Blade from Mega Man 2 due to their similar appearances and capabilities, with the differences being that the Shadow Blade consumes more energy, can't be shot downwards, and only travels so far before boomeranging back to Mega Man.
    • Rush Jet was originally fine-controlled by the player. This proved too exploitable, so starting in Mega Man 4, he moved forward automatically and you could only adjust his altitude. Mega Man 8 nerfed Rush Jet even further by scripting his appearances — he shows up in stages designed for him, and Mega Man can't summon him anywhere else. Don't feel bad for Rush, though. He's always getting new modes to play with.
    • The Mega Buster was nerfed in 5 such that Mega Man loses his charge if he takes a hit (although it had a larger radius). Then Mega Man 9 and Mega Man 10 came along and nerfed the Buster and the slide move clear out of existence (and Protoman's version was pretty horrendous)! Fortunately, Mega Man 11 not only brought both of them back but also had a purchasable upgrade that increased the charge shot's size, allowing it to hit enemies a lot easier.
    • Mega Man X
    • Even other characters see the occasional nerfing. Bass has lost his charged shot as of Mega Man & Bass (he got multidirectional machine-gun fire instead — great for levels, not great for bosses). Zero's buster was originally his main weapon but was replaced by his Z-Saber in X4 to differentiate him from X. Since then his buster has been so weak that it's essentially an afterthought (if it appears at all).
  • Tomb Raider:
    • In the third game, the M16 was replaced by the weaker (and much harder to manoeuvre with) MP5.
    • Also between the second and third games, the Grenade Launcher was changed, decreasing accuracy by a great amount. Making players even less willing to use whatever grenades they could find.
    • Another downgrade for the third game; the Uzis - a franchise-wide favourite, present in nearly every title - are made slightly less powerful, and ammunition is extremely rare, compared to TRI and TRII.
    • In the fifth game, the Desert Eagle and Revolver (from III and Last Revelation, respectively) are downgraded significantly from their previous Hand Cannon status.
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past has the Tunic, which is a nerf compared to the Rings from The Legend of Zelda. Rings lowered damage from all enemy attacks and traps. Tunics do lower damage, however, some enemies and all traps deal fixed damage, regardless of what tunic Link is wearing.
  • Starting with the 3D games, fairies would fully revive Link if his hearts run out. It was later changed to only restore a handful of hearts. Likewise, Red Potions would fully heal Link, but by The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, the potions only restore a handful of hearts while Blue Potions became the max heal item. Milk was also nerfed in Twilight Princess by only restoring 3 hearts instead of 5.

    Action Games 
  • Merlin's Revenge 3 nerfed the Energy Beam and Monster Summon spells from the previous game, renaming them Energy Pulse and Army Summon. Energy Beam was widely regarded as a game breaker(which it was not. It was the only way to defeat the Scarlet Wizard), but the creator never gave a reason as to why Monster Summon was changed. Firstly, Energy Pulse was pathetic mostly due to the fact that as the number of enemies approached 25, a rather limiting maximum, its hit chance would approach zero. It was in fact, nerfed again, halfing its firerate. Army Summon, was, on the other hand, useful during the beta version as it seemed to be pretty much exactly the same with a different choice of units to create, until it was toned down AGAIN when the final beta map was released by only allowing you to summon friendly units that you had collected from other screens. Apart from the spells, the blue potion was nerfed next, followed by the swamp region, allied dwarves, the levelling system, enemy spawners, and finally the map itself, which was changed to a 16x4 map, as opposed the the 15x9 map of the previous game and the 18x12 map of the beta(I don't know if the exact numbers are right, but you get the idea). The map removed the scrub and desert regions, replacing them with a larger Magical Alliance area.
  • The otherwise game-breaking Spread Gun got nerfed in the arcade version of Super Contra, due to the limited number of bullets on screen, you can only fire up to three bursts of three shots at a time. With the upgraded, this is reduced to two bursts of five shots.
  • Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles has four races with different specialties, but they can all manage being a melee fighter for solo mode. In Ring of Fates, Clavats retain their Jack-of-All-Stats build, but Yukes are now definitely Squishy Wizards, the formerly Lightning Bruiser Lilties are now a support class with Magikarp Power, and Selkies remain swift but are now archers. (Granted, this seems to have a lot to do with the individual personality and professions of the main cast, but it affects the character creation for multiplayer mode too.) The next game, Echoes of Time, goes back to An Adventurer Is You format and the original builds.

    Eastern RPGs 
  • Record Of Agarest War 2 gave the biggest Game-Breaker of the first game and Zero the biggest nerf. Unleash All/Rile EX Skills usually required you to have your party members be at 25% HP which is easily achievable by having enemies go first and have all but one party member die, revive them which puts them at the 25% mark and feed either Plum or Routier the SP needed to activate their 2nd EX Skills to give the other party members the 250 sp to use their Limit Breaks. Not so in Agarest 2 where you have to a: be at 20% HP, b: manually activate the EX Skill from the character who knows said EX Skill so that other characters have the same EX Skill, and c: pray your enemy doesn't outright kill the character who has said EX Skill.
  • Pokémon:
    • In Generation 1, Hyper Beam doesn't require a recharge turn if the user defeats the target with it. From Generation 2 and on, the user always has to recharge if Hyper Beam successfully hits.
    • The Freeze status has been adjusted throughout the first few generations. Originally, being inflicted with Freeze could only be thawed out with a fire-type that had a chance to burn, being healed by a healing item or if Haze was used. Subsequent generations gave it a chance to thaw out during a turn, some moves being able to used while frozen, all Fire-type attacks could thaw out the target instead and sunlight preventing freeze from working.
    • The Psychic type was horribly broken in the original games. Psychic Pokemon tended to have huge Special stats, which accounted for both Special Attack and Special Defense in Gen I. A glitch made the Ghost type weak to Psychic moves, when they were supposed to be strong against them. The only other type that was strong against Psychic (Bug) had no decent attacks at all. Pokémon Gold and Silver nerfed the Psychic type in a number of ways: most notably, it introduced Dark- and Steel-type Mons, the former being immune to Psychic and the latter resistant to it. It also fixed the Ghost-type glitch, and introduced decent Bug- and Ghost-type moves. Finally, the split of the Special stat into Special Attack and Special Defense made Psychic-types much more varied.
    • From a less egregious example: the Ground-type move Dig had a power of 100 in the original Red, Blue, and Yellow versions, but in later games, its power was decreased to 60. Pokémon Diamond and Pearl then buffed it to a respectable 80 power.
    • Wrap, Bind, Clamp, and Fire Spin. In Generation I, all of them prevented the target from executing a move for 3-5 turns. They can switch out, but AI trainers never do this while other players basically had to switch, and as long as the attack's user was faster it was impossible to attack them until the move ran out of PP. Beginning with Generation II, Wrap and Bind prevent the target from switching out instead, while Clamp and Fire Spin simply do damage.
    • Self-Destruct and Explosion lost their defense-halving abilities in 5th Generation. They're still the most powerful move in the game, though.
    • Another Generation 5 nerf was how Taunt and Encore went from lasting 4-8 turns to exactly 3 turns.
    • The move Hypnosis is an interesting case. It was buffed from 60% accuracy to 70% in Diamond and Pearl, but Game Freak later bumped it back down to 60.
    • Hidden Power has its Power and Type based on the user's IV. In Generation 2 and 3, damaging moves are determined by type. Generation 4 introduced the Physical/Special split, which Hidden Power becomes a Special move. Generation VI set Hidden Power's Power to 60 instead of its potentially maximum power of 70 in previous games, it does make the move a lot more user-friendly since it no longer has its power based on the user's IV (which could get to about as low as 30, which is worse than basic moves like Tackle).
    • The Fairy type was introduced in Pokémon X and Y mainly to balance out the overpowered Dragon type. Originally an Infinity +1 Element, they used to be rather rare, but as new dragons were introduced in later generations, they ended up becoming Game Breakers who could easily steamroll virtually anything. Indeed, Fairy-types are outright immune to Dragon-type attacks while hitting them super-effectively, much like the Dark-type to the Generation 1 Psychics.
    • Starting from Pokémon X and Y, Steel (the defining defensive type) has lost key resistances to both Ghost and Dark, in exchange for super-effectiveness and resistance against Fairy. This makes the Steel/Psychic types like Metagross, Bronzong and Jirachi gain two extra weaknesses.
    • In Generation VI, weather summoned by ability are no longer permanent. Instead, they lasted for 5-8 turns just like weather summoned by moves.
    • In Generation V, the gems were introduced and boost the attack's power by 50% if it matches the Gem's type. In Generation VI, the gems had their damage bonus reduced to 30% and only Normal Gem is obtainable.
    • Several moves had their damage slightly reduced in Generation VI. Staples like Flamethrower, Surf, and Thunderbolt went from 95 Power to 90, while Blizzard, Thunder, and Fire Blast decreased from 120 to 110.
    • In Generation VI the move Low Sweep had its Power increased from 60 to 65, which is a stealth nerf because Technician only boosts moves with 60 or less.
    • Pokémon Sun and Moon nerfed several moves and abilities, such as Dark Void now has 50% accuracy and only works when used by Darkrai (a Pokemon banned in most tournaments), Gale Wings only works when the user has full HP, Parental Bond's second attack does 25% damage rather than 50%, Prankster won't affect Dark types and Soul Dew now only gives 20% power boost to Dragon and Psychic types if held by the Lati@s.
    • A few Pokemon received changes to their abilities, but the most notable example is Gengar, whose only ability was changed from Levitate (which made it immune to ground attacks, which it would be weak to as a Ghost/Poison type) to Cursed Body (an ability that disables a move when it hits Gengar, but due to its low defense, it won't survive too many in the first place).
    • In Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Red and Blue Rescue Team, all-Castform teams were shockingly powerful. So in Explorers, it was given a "body size" of 4 — since your team is capped at 6 total, this change put a decisive end to that strategy.
    • The Special split in Generation 2 was this to a number of Pokemon, as the original mechanics made it so that any Pokemon that could take a special attack could dish one out as well, and the move Amnesia made its user more or less invincible. Many of them got their old Special stat assigned to either Special Attack or Special Defense, and a new stat that was usually lower than the old one. Tauros was probably the most prominent victim, as it relied on its okay Special stat to handle the Rock-types its Normal moves couldn't - but its new Special Attack stat happened to be thirty points lower. Articuno suffered the exact same thing, turning it into a largely ineffective Stone Wall, which was particularly obvious as it had once boasted the strongest attacks in Generation 1.
    • In Generation VII it became no longer possible to choose which position a Pokemon is sent out in, if it's a double battle and its your last Pokemon. This was a (probably) unintentional nerf to Ditto, since you could no longer choose which opponent it would automatically Transform into.
    • Generation VIII gave us an interesting nerf, in which for the first time ever, the base stats for a specific Pokemon were actually lowered. That Pokemon is Aegislash, where depending on form, whatever its two highest stats are were reduced by 10 points each. In addition, its signature move of King's Shield now only lowers the Attack stat of a Pokemon that makes contact with it by one stage instead of two.
    • Also in Generation VIII, the infamous Moody ability (which at the end of each turn lowers one stat and sharply raises another) no longer affects Accuracy and Evasion, the latter being able to be raised being a big reason why the ability was considered such a Game-Breaker.
  • Each Mega Man Battle Network game Nerfed something that had been overpowered before (while introducing new game breakers themselves). A few examples:
    • Some chips and Program Advances did less damage in later games. GutsShoot did a whopping 500 in the first game; it dropped to 400 in the second and 300 in the third.
    • Program Advances were the backbone of many a strong folder until BN5, when a new rule was imposed: any given Advance could be used only once per battle. The hardcore PvPers were ticked.
    • You could have ten copies of a single chip in your folder in the first game. This was reduced to five, then four. Tougher restrictions were placed on summon chips too.
    • Many of the popular NaviCust parts became more awkward and harder to combine. BN4 had a particularly obnoxious HubBatch that took up the whole Command Line.
    • The big exception to this trend was the final game, BN6, which was extremely generous — some even found it too generous. (180 damage from an M-Cannon! Everything in * code!)
  • In Boktai , The Gun Del Sol is your only weapon in the first game, but it's incredibly versatile, capable of blasting solar energy in all sorts of ways (as well as launching grenades and storing tons of backup energy). In the second game, you lose this weapon early on — and when you finally get it back, it's a shadow of its former self. It can't fire spreads, lacks all the extras, and consumes so much energy you can only use it a few times before refilling. It's explained that it was damaged and that there was only enough time for a sloppy repair job, explaining its poor performance. By the third game, it was back to full strength.
    • Not quite up to full strength. The first game used batteries which were refillable, upgradeable, and you kept the old ones which you could swap in a pinch (You had 15 full meters of energy if you had all five batteries). The third uses an MP meter, so even though its consumption is the same as the first, you have much less ammo before you're empty.
  • The "Chocobuckle" in Final Fantasy VII is an early obtainable enemy skill costing only 3 MP. It deals damage based on the number of times the party fled from battle multiplied by the user's level. It got nerfed in the Western and International versions for being a Game-Breaker. Instead, the damage is equal to the number of times the party fled from battle.
  • Final Fantasy X: In the European/International Version, the ability Quickhit - an ability that allows the user to attack with virtually no recovery time - had its MP Cost raised significantly from 8 MP to 36 MP. This means it must be used much more sparingly (especially considering that Tidus and Auron, who have the lowest MP-stat, will most likely be the first to learn it).
    • From the sequel, the Catnip accessory. It basically raises all of the attack/healing numbers of the wearer to 9,999. When combined with the Gunner's Trigger Happy skill, this made for some serious game-breaking. Later releases made it so that the accessory also adds Auto-Berserk to the wearer, meaning they will only use the basic physical attack and cannot be controlled.
  • In Persona 3, having the Personae Lucifer and Satan together unlocked the Fusion Raid Armageddon, which at the cost of all of the protagonist's SP delivered 9999 damage to all enemies. It became a Game-Breaker once Lucifer learned Victory Cry, which fully restores the protagonist's HP and SP after a win. The FES Updated Re-release made it so Lucifer, now renamed Helel, no longer learned Victory Cry naturally, though creative inheritance could fix that. The second Updated Re-release, Portable, further Nerfed Armageddon by making all Fusion Raids consumable items, and giving Armageddon a ludicrous price to make it Awesome, but Impractical.
  • Persona 4:
    • In Persona 3, Tetrakarn and Makarakarn (and their item equivalents Attack Mirror and Magic Mirror) gave your entire party an Attack Reflector for physical or magical attacks respectively. In Persona 4, both the skills and items only affect one ally.
    • The "standard" Hama and Mudo One-Hit Kill spells got buffed in Persona 4 (likely to make them more useful on enemies weak to them), but the "ultimate" versions Samsara and Die for Me got nerfed from a whopping 80% chance of instant death to all enemies to 60%.
    • Speaking of which, "signature moves" in Persona 3 (ultimate attacks of various elements learned exclusively by one Persona, usually fitting with their mythology such as Surt's Ragnarok or Lucifer/Helel's Morning Star) could be passed down to other Personas via fusion, resulting in super-powerful skills being learnable by end-game Personas with no weaknesses. In Persona 4 and on, "signature moves" are now truly exclusive to the Persona that learns them: they cannot be passed on in fusion by any means. This makes the Personas that learn these skills more valuable.
    • Vorpal Blade is one of the strongest physical skills in Persona 3, especially if the user is in "Great" condition. Since Persona 4 doesn't use the same game mechanic, Vorpal Blade has about same strength as other high end skills.
  • Persona 5 has several:
    • Spirit Drain's strength got nerfed from absorbing 30 SP to only 10 SP to avoid gamebreaking early on.
    • Unlike in Persona 4, most "signature" skills are free to transfer to other Personas. With the exception of Yoshitsune's Hassou Tobi, Alice's Die for Me!, Daisoujou's Samsara, Lucifer's Morning Star, and some DLC's Personas.
    • Victory Cry — fully restore HP and SP after a battle — can only be learned in the second playthrough from Joker's ultimate Persona.
    • Yoshitsune is still as powerful as it was in Persona 4, but one of the needed Personas to fuse it is the Persona you unlock by maxing out the Magician Confidant, which only maxes out near the end of the game.
    • The ability for party members to take a lethal hit for you, which was the first ability you got when you started their Social Link in Persona 4, now needs Confidant Rank 9 in order to unlock.
    • Persona 5 Royal nerfs mental status effects like Confuse and Rage to cause the to end automatically after the target takes damage so you can't just hit an enemy with one then have the entire active team pummel them into submission. They also end much faster even when not interrupted. The Shady Commodities vendor that gets unlocked via repairing the broken laptop also got nerfed- it still sells otherwise rare items, but it no longer carries powerful end-game weapons or armor. Instead, all you can get is fusion items.
  • Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse does this with a number of things from Shin Megami Tensei IV:
    • Smirk has been depowered so that while it still negates elemental weaknesses and makes attacks super-accurate and always crit, it will no longer grant near-perfect evasion.
    • The MP cost of many high-end skills has been amplified, in order to encourage players to take advantage of the new affinity system, wherein, among other things, skill affinities influence the MP cost of skills of the same type. Did you wanna cast Mediarahan to heal the entire party, for example? Well, its MP cost has been raised from 40 MP to 90, if you don't cast it with a user with a positive healing affinity. Affinities can be negative as well, making these already-costly skills cost even more.
    • Some skills that have secondary effects in IV now have those secondary effects only kick in on a Smirk. For example, Antichton, which in IV inflicts "severe"-level Almighty damage to all enemies and reduces their status by one tier, will only do the "Almighty damage" part unless the user is Smirking.
    • IV already has a number of skills that can't be passed on via fusion except with the Demon Fusion Lite app or Demon Whisper. Apocalypse further expands the list of skills banned from being transferred and prevents Demon Fusion Lite from getting around it. No, you and your demons who aren't Alice cannot run around spamming Die For Me! anymore.
  • Traditionally in Shin Megami Tensei, attacks with the Expel element (sometimes known as Light-elemental instead) are One-Hit Kills, but in the Digital Devil Saga games, they merely chop off a fraction of the target's remaining HP.
  • Support effects in the Fossil Fighters series were nerfed from the first game to the second. In the first, viviosaurs have their full effects no matter their level, making viviosaurs with crazy support effects—like Compso, who decreases an opponent's attack by 90%—insanely good even right out the gate, and a powerful addition to the team the instant they're available. In the sequel, however, support effects need time to grow to their full potential like any other stat does, meaning Compso is available in one of the game's first areas, and only starts out offering a 9% or so decrease.
    • There's also Sopteryx. In the original, Sopteryx boasted a skill that only cost 100 FP—quite moderately-priced by the time you can obtain it, and capable of being used every single turn—but which had a 100% chance of causing a powerful "gold" Confusion effect and did damage. In the sequel, the skill's cost skyrocketed to 240 FP, making it impossible to pull off with regularity.
  • Dark Souls:
    • In Dark Souls 2, the pyromancy Flame Swathe was massively nerfed. At one point it could One-Hit Kill Darklurker, but after the patch, it did a fraction of the damage and the casting time was increased, making it easy to dodge.
    • Dark Souls 3 has the Fume Ultra Greatsword (FUGS). It was considered one of the strongest weapons in the game, and delivered a ridiculous amount of damage. A patch reduced it's base damage from 330 to 260, significantly depowering it. This made PvP much easier, as the weapon was notorious for two-hit killing players.
  • Granblue Fantasy usually only nerfs characters if they turn out to be overpowered after release; more often the weaker characters are buffed up. There were two cases where the game had to go into emergency maintenance due to how overpowered the characters were:
    • Hallessena gave herself a bonus 40% attack per turn with no limit, so long as she didn't take damage, which after maintenance was changed to 25% with a cap of 300% and also giving a one-turn attack penalty after taking damage. However, a later patch changed the buff to 35% while keeping the cap.
    • Much more infamous is Korwa, whose party-wide buffs were permanent and could stack, allowing people to clear even High Level/Impossible raids with no other help. Even after her nerf (the buffs no longer stack with themselves, and need to be recast) she's still considered one of the best characters in the entire game.
  • Final Fantasy XII gave everyone the same license board, thus allowing everyone to learn everything and become absolute powerhouses. The international version revamped the license board by making several smaller boards designed around job types like white mage, archer, and so forth so that no one character can master everything. Guest-Star Party Member Larsa was laughably broken due to having an infinite supply of Hi-Potions and X-Potions, so the international version nerfed him by having him use your supply of potions. Larsa does come with the Cura spell to make up for the nerf.
  • In the Kiseki Series, the Wild Rage craft trades HP for CP. In the first arc, the most powerful form of that craft gave 150CP, which allowed the party member to have it to be able to use an S-Break that did thousands of HP in damage to every enemy on the screen in one go. This made it easy to smash through most bosses by having Agate alternate between Wild Rage and S-Breaks, with the rest of the party focusing on healing him and each other. Later arcs reduced the maximum CP gain that party members could gain from that craft to 90, which meant that using it wouldn't guarantee the ability to use an S-Break (which required a minimum of 100CP).
    • The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III introduced a mechanic in the game called "Brave Orders" that allow characters to buff the party using the Brave Points gained in battle. Juna's Brave Order, called "Sledgehammer", that only costs 1 BP and allows the party to break the enemy Break Meter by 300% for four turns while Kurt's Brave Order reduces a party member's delay modifier that only costs 2 BP and lasts for four turns. Cue the game broken into pieces anytime these two are available (and they are available almost throughout the game). Cold Steel IV nerfed this by increasing the costs of their Brave Order and reducing their effects in half until players grab trial chests to somewhat make them viable again (though not to Cold Steel III's absurd levels).
      • Rean's Spirit Unification took a nose dive in Cold Steel IV where after three of his turns are up, he becomes uncontrollable and either he needs to be snapped out by making a character waste their turn to heal his status condition or wait out the random amount of turns it takes before he goes back to normal.

    Fighting Games 
  • The Super Smash Bros. series (and, indeed, fighting games in general) gets a bit of flak for this, since their preferred tactic for balancing characters is to weaken or strengthen the power/effectiveness of attacks, rather than balance the characters through speed, ability to combo/be combo'd, or attack changes.
    • Pants Are Overrated "Ness, or the Woes of Change" (2009-05-26) illustrates Ness being knocked down a few tiers from N64 to Melee.
    • Thankfully, Smash 4 has done a lot to buff characters overall (even Game-Breaker Meta Knight got a few buffs on top of several nerfs), but it made a major system-based nerf on ledge grabbing. Not only is it far less effective in denying recovery, it also removed ledge invincibility abuse that was common in Brawl. What would have you auto-grab a ledge in Brawl will likely result in eating a Smash attack during your ascent if you don't space your recovery right.
  • Akuma has been nerfed repeatedly since his first appearance in Super Street Fighter II Turbo, but this was beneficial, as he was brought down from a nigh-invincible boss character to a powerful regular character.
  • Between Bleach: The Blade of Fate and Bleach: Dark Souls for the DS, several characters had a radical toning-down. Byakuya Kuchiki now uses up a Spirit Power bar for each Senbonzakura, preventing him from sitting on one side of the screen and spamming it until victory, and Aizen's moves were juggled to prevent him from being a Perfect-Play A.I., among others. Sadly, in the crossfire several balanced characters took hits as well (sorry, Orihime).
  • Mortal Kombat:
    • Mortal Kombat II featured the then-new Kitana, whose telekinetic "fan lift" maneuver led to one of the most devastating and one-sided attacks in any fighting game — corner opponent, lift, then punch or kick the living crap out of said opponent. Most of the game cabinets were eventually revved with a fix that caused a player delivering an attack on the end of the fight screen to bounce back just out of range of the attack; the fan lift, while still crippling to an opponent, was no longer a game breaker.
    • In Mortal Kombat 3, Kabal was one of the strongest characters in the game, with his (dial-a-)combos being some of the most damaging of any character. In Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, the damage Kabal's combos dished out was cut by half.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: Gundam vs Gundam NEXT was not kind to Gundam F91 at all, no new suits or stages and the F91 lost some bite with his signature's move having to be charged.
  • In Super Punch-Out!!, Bald Bull was demoted to the champion of the Minor Circuit. He was notably much slower and easier to beat than in the original NES game. However this nerf was reversed in the Wii version of the game where he was back to normal.

    First-Person Shooters 
  • In Medal of Honor: Frontline, the BAR's firing rate was somewhat reduced from previous games.
  • In the video game version of The Darkness, the Darkness' weakness to sunlight was expanded to include all strong light, since the game was set entirely at night and the lack of any limitation on the main character's powers would make every fight a Curb-Stomp Battle.
    • Further nerfed in the sequel. In the original game lights would rapidly drain Darkness energy but your powers could still be used for a few seconds. In The Darkness II, the Darkness not only disappeared completely when lit but Jackie was nearly blinded by the light, making it hard to even aim. The effect, if not the scope is arguably closer to the comics though, as the Darkness couldn't operate at all under the light it was weak to.
    • Another example is the Black Hole. In the first game it was a power you could activate at any time (if you had full Darkness energy). In the sequel the Black Hole is a throwable pickup that enemies have a chance of dropping.
  • Call of Duty: During a downloadable content cycle for a particular entry in the franchise, every entry will see a period where guns and equipment are patched thanks to community feedback and what the developers observe. The following are the most notable nerfs:
    • Modern Warfare:
      • The Model 1887s in Modern Warfare 2, were nerfed twice: Once from Game-Breaker to regular gun and then to Joke Gun.
      • Modern Warfare 2 also moved the AK-47, a starting gun from CoD4, to one of the last unlocked weapons for its multiplayer.
    • Call of Duty: Black Ops II: Toward the end of the downloadable content cycle, the DSR 50 and Ballista sniper rifles received nerfs to rate of fire and increased the time it takes to sprint into aiming down your sights. This caused ugly outrage in the Call of Duty community as quickscoping is seen as a very divisive mechanic in Call of Duty.
    • Black Ops 2 also dropped the Juggernaut perk (think the Zombies Perk-a-Cola Juggernog), replacing it with good Toughness, which decreases flinching from being shot. Whether this is a nerf or not is subjective.
  • Halo:
    • Let's start with the pistol. Dear God in heaven, the pistol. In Halo: Combat Evolved the M6D is an extremely accurate medium-range weapon with an integrated scope and high explosive bullets. It was replaced with the BR55 battle rifle in Halo 2, which was fundamentally different because of its RoF, hit-scan bullets, Aim-Assist, and its three-shot burst. The M6C pistol is regarded as a Scrappy Weapon, even with the ability to go Guns Akimbo. And the fanbase never forgave them for it and clamored incessantly for the M6D's return. Though games from Halo: Reach onward have restored the basic pistol's scope and much of its former power and accuracy, the original CE Hand Cannon didn't make a return until Halo 5: Guardians, though even there it's only available as a special REQ power weapon in Warzone.
    • The Needler was weakened somewhat in Halo 2, decreasing its homing capacity and making it a close-range weapon, though by Halo 5 the needles began to track better again. And the shotgun too — it lost either magazine size or range in every game until Reach.
    • It was incredibly easily to run over people in Combat Evolved even if you just grazed them. Hence, the ability to splatter people was nerfed in Halo 2. However, it seems to have gotten progressively nerfed each game, to the point of it being nearly impossible to ram someone with a Warthog by Halo 4.
    • They also removed the Rocket Launcher's homing ability in Halo 3, presumably to prevent it from breaking the game in multiplayer. It can again lock-on again from Reach onward (albeit only on aerial vehicles now), though it now has to compete with lots of other heavy weapons like the Fuel Rod Gun and Spartan Laser.
    • In Reach's multiplayer zombie mode, the pistols were meant to be a backup weapon to the shotgun. Of course, once people realized you could snipe zombies across the map with it, Bungie decided to "nerf" the survivors by removing it from the mode.
  • Marathon: In the original game, the pistol could kill a guy with a rocket launcher on multiplayer. Not so in the later two games. Also, thanks to the addition of the Flechete gun, the Assault Rifle's primary fire is useless, though some would claim that the latter was less of Assault Rifle and more of a Grenade Launcher with the rifle attached to it for self-defense in close-range.
  • Dark Forces Saga:
    • The Imperial Repeater Rifle could shoot very accurate blasts machine-gun style and pushing enemies back farther than any other weapon. Did we mention you can fire three barrels at once? The only drawback is you'll get so addicted to it you'll wonder where the heck your ammo went. The version seen in Jedi Outcast, though, has less accuracy, and the shots it fires are much, much weaker than they once were. The secondary trigger fires stronger blasts from a sort of underslung grenade launcher, but they're nigh impossible to aim. It even changed the Repeater from an Energy Weapon to a slugthrower (projectile weapon).
    • In addition, Dark Forces' Concussion Rifle was so powerful it was almost too strong—so powerful you could hurt yourself if you weren't careful. It was powered down for Jedi Knight, unable to trigger its concussion effect on multiple spread-out enemies, being more like an instant-hit rocket launcher but was still powerful enough to be useful—it even gained a secondary fire that used less energy, was more accurate, and targeted only a single enemy. It was one of a few weapons that couldn't be blocked by a lightsaber, though it could be Force pulled. About the only way this could be called a nerf is if the Dark Forces version wasn't broken. The gun was taken out of Jedi Outcast entirely. Jedi Academy brought it back, and while it still did hideous amounts of damage, the gun was very nearly nerfed. Rather than being instantaneous damage, it fired a projectile that, like rockets, could be Force pushed away—but it was much, much quicker, requiring split-second timing. Unless, of course, you try to use it on a computer Jedi...
  • In the Battlefield series, at least one character class or vehicle per game tends to be overpowered at release. In Battlefield: Vietnam, it was an American character that spawned with an M60 and a LAW, giving it the best anti-infantry and anti-tank weapon at the same time. In Battlefield 2, it was the Blackhawk helicopter, which had crazy powerful miniguns and captured points in seconds when fully loaded with soldiers. Both were toned down in subsequent patches.
  • One of the more noticeable nerfs in Battlefield 2142 was the steady decrease in the power of "podding," which is the practice of launching a player out of a tube in a pod, which is intended to be a way of getting players from one place to another. Aside from the pod-surfing debate (which was more of an Obvious Rule Patch closing a physics exploit), the damage of podding vehicles was severely reduced. In early versions, you could destroy APCs, damage tanks, and even kill aircraft, if you could manage the funky pod controls well enough to hit them. In later versions, trying to pod ground vehicles will usually kill the infantryman doing the podding, without hurting the vehicle much, and even the relatively weak aircraft can survive being podded.
  • Counter-Strike:
    • AWP sniper rifle is an interesting example. It was one of the most frequently benned weapons on custom servers due to its ability to kill with one shot to the body. In Global Offensive it was hit with a series of nerfs slowing movement speed and adding a delay to scoping (if you shoot before the scope is in full focus accuracy becomes random). It was also nerfed in more indirect manner. Map pool changed and maps like aztec and dust, full of sniper-friendly chokepoints got replaced by more balanced maps, where flanking becopes a possibility. Also, new physics engine vastly increased the distance smoke and flashbang grenades could be thrown, meaning players got the ability to blind most common sniping spots before entering.
  • Team Fortress 2:
    • Valve seems to be afraid of touching the damage and health values. Hence, the complaints about Soldiers and Demomen being too powerful were addressed by severely reducing their ammo (which doesn't do anything if said classes are camping near a dispenser). The Pyro on the other hand was buffed by means of a new alt-fire function for their flamethrower to deflect rockets and grenades. The alternative weapon did boost the health of the user, but that was removed shortly after.
    • And the Demoman later got a severe Nerf that took them down from Game-Breaker status: Their sticky mines can be broken by a single bullet. This is important, as the sticky mines (a) do more damage than any other weapon, (b) were indestructible and easily spammable, (c) could be detonated at any time and (d) you could have eight of them out at a time. This was then updated so stickybomb damage was reduced for the first five seconds when the Demoman is less than 512 units away, making them less useful for immediate attacking.
    • The change in Demomen from QTF to the sequel Team Fortress 2 was even more drastic than any of the TF2 changes so far. In QTF, Demos could detonate their pipebombs (which were remote-detonate like stickybombs) at any time after they were fired. This allowed them to detonate pipebombs on top of or immediately beside enemies at any range from close to medium. TF2 demos can do this to an extent, but the tactic was more effective in QTF, as TF2 demos have to wait a second or so after firing before a sticky bomb will arm. This gives the enemy at least a chance of escaping the blast.
    • The most polarizing nerf in the game was the Dead Ringer. As originally implemented, the Dead Ringer could be exploited to live forever at the cost of doing absolutely nothing useful. Obviously this was a glaring problem, so Valve quickly nerfed it. The nerf was simple: When you uncloaked from the Dead Ringer, regardless of how much charge it had remaining, it would completely decharge, and require recharge from scratch. Unlike the other cloak watches, the Dead Ringer cannot be activated manually, requiring the Spy to be hit by an enemy attack while it is fully charged; also, it cannot recharge from ammo packs like the vanilla watch can. It only lasts for eight seconds on a full charge, and requires 24 seconds to fully recharge from empty. Further nerfs have made damage taken reduce cloak, increased recharge time, and ammo and dispensers can also no longer replenish the cloak, along with some buffs like a three second speed boost on activation and preventing bump flicker for a few seconds.
    • The Sandman has also been subject to a lot of this. When it started out it could stun anyone, even people who were Ubercharged, and the penalty was that you couldn't double jump while holding it. It was then nerfed slightly in the Classless Update where the penalty was changed to 30 less HP, and Ubers couldn't be stunned anymore. It was then nerfed again in the War Update, where the penalty was only -15 HP but only the longest possible range would cause a stun. Finally, it was nerfed so that it only slows down targets, which basically does nothing.
    • The Flamethrower's history is a mix of buffs an nerfs, the net effect of which is that compared to when the game was released its direct DPS is 10% lower, but it does higher damage near the edge of its range and it also gained airblasting. Indirectly, burning has been significantly nerfed by the number of new ways for enemies to extinguish fire: originally it could only be done by a Medic over the course of a few seconds, but now the Sniper's Jarate, Scout's Mad Milk, and other Pyro's airblast can each extinguisher multiple teammates instantly. Jungle Inferno meanwhile heavily modified the flame particle and airblast mechanics in an attempt to make them more consistent and accurate, but also changed the way that flame damage is calculated, which resulted in effectively higher dps.
    • Several of TF2's unlockable items have been studies in gradual nerfing. The Spy's Ambassador, for example, was originally a perfectly accurate revolver that did mini-crit damage on headshots. This was apparently considered too powerful. Then, it became a revolver that did critical hits with headshots, but had bullet spread after the first shot or two—at which point people were making headshots in excess of 1 per second. They later established a cooldown timer for headshots, a damage decrease, and fire rate reduction. When people were still annoyed by the ambassador headshotting them from long range, it was nerfed again to be unable to headshot beyond a certain distance.
    • Another, much more quietly executed example would be the Chargin' Targe or the Gunboats. Both originally offered better explosive damage defense buffs, but over time they have gone from reducing damage by 60% (the original value of the Chargin' Targe) to 50%, then 40%. The Gunboats were originally a 75% reduction from self inflicted blast damage (all the better to encourage Soldiers to Rocket Jump) but have been reduced to 60% as of this writing. Don't think these changes have gone unnoticed by those on the Steam Forums, though...
    • The Equalizer was an effective Soldier weapon added in early in the game's life. It disabled Medigun healing while equipped and had less base damage than the Shovel, but in exchange, the less health the Soldier had, the attacks became dramatically stronger, and allowed the Soldier to go faster; as well as adding a Kamikaze killtaunt that could be circumvented through several means. A considerable history of Nerfing went from removing the killtaunt's ability to be nullified by the Gunboats equip, to dulling the max damage the Equalizer could deal, to making the killtaunt unsurvivable through overheal, to making it immune to Healing Shiv weaponry, to dulling it again along with negating Medic callouts, and finally, at its climax at the Pyromania update, splitting its abilities in half, by removing the speed boosts and putting that quality (and original visuals) into a new weapon called the "Escape Plan".
    • The Enforcer is one of the more weird nerfs. Initially it did 20+ damage at the expense of making cloak activation longer. When the Spycicle was released this, along with the aforementioned Dead Ringer, created an almost invincible spy that could two-shot most classes from a distance, and almost completely negated the drawbacks of all three weapons (the Enforcer negated the loss of a knife when the Spycicle was melted, the Spycicle removed the afterburn caused by flame-related deaths, and the Dead Ringer ignored the Enforcer's Cloak penalty). The Enforcer then got changed so that instead of a cloak delay, it would not apply the damage penalty unless you were undisguised. It also gained a 20% slower fire and no random crits. This made it rather weird when paired with its intended weapon, the Big Earner, as now both seem completely unrelated in terms of effects, and it's considered almost completely useless by most players.
    • While the Pomson was the bane of spies and medics everywhere, It's nerf came because of a different reason: the gun needed no ammo and pierced enemies; combined with MVM, the game mode released with the nerf, the un-nerfed gun would devastate the robot hordes since they spawn packed together, a single upgraded shot can take out several robots at once, not to mention medics. This is evident as the Soldier has a similar weapon, but the Soldier's Rocket Launcher outshines it, while the Engie can pair his Pomson with his primary weapon; the sentry gun.
    • The Axtinguisher was also given a nerf so that it did only minicrits when attacking the front of an enemy (attacking from the back still does full crits). It was later given a tough break in the aptly named Tough Break Update (December 17, 2015 Patch) to do less damage against burning targets (but more otherwise), switch 75% slower (slightly less with the Degreaser's switch boost), and swing slower, but regained the ability to crit from any angle.
    • The Righteous Bison was also hit with a heavy nerf in the July 7, 2016 Meet Your Match Update which “fixed a bug causing players to be hit by the same projectile multiple times, causing the damage dealt to vary wildly” (despite this being one of the weapon’s intended attributes). To compensate per-shot damage has been increased, resulting in slightly more damage on average What does this mean? . It also slowed projectile by 30% (making it the slowest projectile) and reduced projectile damage by 25% for each enemy penetrated. This nerf was not well received to say the least, since the Bison was already not particularly powerful.
  • Left 4 Dead:
    • The VS mode. People who play as the survivors would usually huddle together and spam their melee attack if they got mobbed by the infected. This prevented players using Hunters from being able to pounce on them without being shoved off. A patch now adds a fatigue effect to the survivor's melee attacks; survivors have to wait at least 1 or 2 seconds before being able to melee again. Another patch also reduced the damage done by the special infected in VS in order to keep the game balanced. Another changed the Hunter doing much more damage when on fire in VS to reducing the increased damage and only applying it to fire created by the Survivors.
    • Also not that the issue above was addressed in the sequel by allowing the stunable specials to get a free swipe at you when you shove them. It happens most often when you intercept a pounce and on harder difficulties causes a lot of damage that is near impossible to avoid.
    • When Survival mode was released, people started to get insane times, thus earning medals too easily, by using exploits (such as hiding in the corner of a wall or the like). To counter this, Valve released updates that corrected the problems by placing a random object like a soda machine in spots where people were abusing the exploits.
    • Additionally, in the sequel, getting to a place that was impossible for the Infected to get to in Survival would cause the director to fill the entire floor with Spitter acid.
    • While Valve does nerf things in VS and Survival to make things balanced, they don't touch the campaign mode so that people could exploit all they want. Most likely because it is a co-op game with zombies running after you and the players are not fighting against other players.
    • The sequel applies the melee cooldown to all modes for the sequel (except for melee weapons) and max ammo capacity for the shotgun and hunting rifle is reduced from the first game.
    • Additionally, three new Infected were introduced into the sequel with the stated purpose of making the defensive tactics developed by players in the first game less effective, along with staged events that demanded forward movement, as opposed to the "hit the button and hold out for 45 seconds" events of the first game.
    • The sequel also nerfed the damage Witches do to you. In the first game, a Witch can kill you in about 3-5 seconds while the sequel has her take about 10 seconds to kill. This is assuming you are not playing on Expert or Realism, where the Witch will just kill you in one strike instead.
    • A patch in the sequel nerfed damage done to Tanks with melee weapons. Originally, a melee weapon would do 10% damage per hit to a Tank, thus you could take a Tank down in 10 hits, which could be REALLY fast if everyone does it. This caused tons of frustration in VS where a Tank player could be quickly killed because everyone is running circles around him and smacking him with a frying pan. The patch now makes melee weapons do only 5% damage to a Tank or 20 hits to kill, so now players are better off running and gunning a Tank.
    • Spitters used to be able to incap or kill the whole survivor team by spitting acid into an elevator right before the survivors closed the door. This would kill or cripple the entire team while the survivors could do nothing about it while being trapped in a moving elevator. A patch changed the acid pool effect in elevators where it now fades a lot faster so survivors would have a fighting chance.
  • Star Wars: Battlefront:
    • Droidekas were nerfed to the sequel game, especially in shield strength and duration.
    • Another was the Republic Gunship on Geonosis, especially versus the computer. They were barely able to hit it, Engineers repaired it constantly, flying near an ammo droid refilled your rockets, the AI was too dumb to destroy the final Republic command post, so a single engineer would be able to get a gunship at the beginning of the game and fly it all game and win, even after the droids had reduced the clones to 1 point.
  • Time Crisis 3 introduces secondary weapons such as the machinegun and shotgun. The machinegun inflicts more damage per shot than the handgun and is fully automatic, while the shotgun fires seven pellets while maintaining the same firing rate as the handgun. Time Crisis 4 nerfs these weapons; the machinegun and the shotgun now inflict less damage unless used on specific enemies, and the shotgun has a reduced firing rate.
  • Combat Arms:
    • The M590 shotgun was epic pwnage at a two-shot kill at medium range, and instant-death any closer than that. Then, in a patch, its power was drastically reduced down to a two-shot kill, even at close range. Suddenly it was almost worthless...
    • The communities problem with the nerf of the shotgun, along with the hundreds of other nerfs they have done, is usually not the nerf itself. The problem is that they purposely lie about what the changed weapon's stats in the shop. They don't release nerf information in the patch notes and hide it for as long as they can, having sales so that the weapons can be bought cheaply with NX cash, the points bought in real life to get in game weapons. They get your money, and once they have it, they nerf it. It is annoying.
  • The Combat Shotgun in F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin was reduced to a Short-Range Shotgun. The game did have the longer range Automatic Shotgun, although that was less powerful.
  • Unreal:
    • The rocket launcher was pretty heavily nerfed between the first game and 2004: not only it can only fire three rockets at a time instead of the original six, damage was decreased as well so that it can no longer One-Hit Kill with direct hits. That however doesn't compare to the massive nerfing that befell the sniper rifle:
    • The original version was practically a camper's dream: semi-automatic which gave a very impressive rate of fire (compared to similar weapons, anyway), enough damage to kill players at full health with two shots and since UT doesn't have killcam, there's no way to tell where the shooter is firing from. Wide-open maps but especially CTF-Face often degenerated into stalemates due to 1) snipers spawncamping the entire enemy team from back home and 2) the only way to avoid enemy sniper fire is translocator Teleport Spam but once you have the flag, you can't use the translocator anymore or you'll drop the flag.
    • 2003 replaced it with the Lightning Rifle that has a pitiful rate of fire as well as a highly visible bolt of electricity between the target and the shooter, in order to give away the latter's position and attract counter-sniper fire.
    • Epic put the sniper rifle back into 2004 but while the rate of fire is faster than the Lightning Rifle, it still doesn't compare to the original weapon. Oh, and while it no longer gives away the shooter, each shot belches a large cloud of smoke that obscures the scope. Since the Lightning Rifle wasn't taken out between 2003 and 2004 (they use the same engine and 2004 has all of its predecessor's content), preference for either usually depends on which is available on the map (an whether the server has the swapping mutator on): maps ported over from 2003 have the LR, ones that debuted in 2004 have the SR, Assault and Onslaught maps usually have both.
  • Destiny: Bungie has done a lot of nerfing in an attempt to balance out the game's PvP mode the Crucible. The first year was dominated by Assault Rifles which proved to be an all-around good gun at any ranges. The SUROS Regime one of the game's exotic Auto Rifles was a big indicator of this problem; it was capable of gunning down enemies at long ranges and was able to compete with Scout Rifles at those distances and win. Eventually the gun class' range and damage were nerfed in order to slow down their time to kill and bring them down to ranges where they were supposed to kill at. This nerf was so severe however that Auto Rifles were non-existent in year 2 and bungie revised their nerfs making them viable again but nowhere near their Year 1 glory.
    • Year 2 was likewise dominated by Hand Cannons much like Auto Rifles these weapons were good at any range and was in some ways even faster and more annoying. Hand Cannons were monsters in PvP and like Auto Rifles could take down Scout Rifle users with 2 or 3 head shots at long ranges. Eventually the class had it's range nerfed and damage reduced. The class had one of the most controversial guns in the exotic gun called the Thorn. This Hand Cannon boasted good damage and range and was capable to 2-shotting players on any part of the body not just the head. The damage and the range were not the 2-hit problem; it's unique perk was. The Thorn perk meant that it's victim suffered damage over time and made the gun a guaranteed 2-hit kill regardless of range or placement and; it was a slow death meaning the victim was unable to do anything as they watched their health reach 0. Killing with it was very easy and it was an extremely common sight in Destiny's highly competitive PvP mode Trials of Osiris. Eventually the gun was nerfed to hell so that it wasn't able to guarantee a 2-shot kill. Moreso that gun was nerfed a second time just to spite it and make it an even less than good option in current PvP. Bungie even made a joke at the Thorn's expense during one of their twitch streams just proving how much of an annoying problem it was.
    • Year 2 also had the Pulse Rifle class nerfed. Though not as a harsh of a degree as Auto Rifles or Hand Cannons they were proving to be too good against Auto Rifles at short distances and Scout Rifles at long distances. Bungie lightly tapped Pulse Rifles with a nerf and the changes were mainly to give Autos and Scouts a better chance at fighting them.
    • Fusion rifles were prone to being nerfed at regular intervals as well since they were 1-hit KO's at short to medium ranges; these were nerfed to make them hard to use effectively. It was to the point that there was a Fusion Rifle nerf on every single weapon update even when no one was complaining about them. Shotguns had a perk known as Shot Package which made shotguns even easier 1-hit kills at short to medium ranges and far outclassed fusion rifles as weapons of choice. Eventually the Shot Package perk was removed entirely and shotguns had their ranges nerfed so that they can only rarely kill at medium range. Snipers themselves were not immune to nerfing and had many of their perks either nerfed or changed. Their perk Final Round was capable of killing with a body shot and eventually this was changed so that it only worked on headshots; and Snapshot had it's effect reduced. Eventually Bungie got sick of special ammo (shotgun, sniper, etc.) in general and nerfed it entirely: reducing how much a player begins, how much they can hold, and how long it takes for special ammo to spawn.
  • Destiny 2 nerfed all special weapons into to the ground by forcing them into the "heavy" slot for which ammunition almost never drops. Players now have two "primary" weapons to use instead. The game also massively increased the super and grenade cooldowns.
  • Far Cry 5 plays mostly identically to its two predecessors, with a few notable exceptions.
    • Signature weapons in FC 3 and FC 4 are expensive, non-customizable guns with a unique paintjob and vastly improved stats over their basic counterpart. Many, if not most of them, are hardcore Game-Breakers. Prestige weapons and vehicles in FC 5 are still expensive and uniquely colored, but no longer perform any better in combat than their much more affordable base models. The sole reason to buy them is their Disc-One Nuke status.
    • .50 BMG sniper rifles are no longer capable of stealthily killing Heavies with a single headshot, not even from behind while loaded with armor-piercing ammo. The only viable method to One-Hit Kill a Heavy without alerting every peggy in the area is a melee takedown, which makes conquering outposts undetected significantly more difficult unless you can call on Nick Rye to drop a bomb on the sucker.
    • One example that works in the player's favor: aggressive animals deal significantly less damage and are much less resilient than the crazy wildlife on the Rook Islands or in Kyrat. That still doesn't mean they're harmless, but getting jumped by a black bear is now more of an annoyance than a near death sentence, especially since most predators turn tail and flee after a couple of good hits.
  • Rainbow Six Siege, being a continually updating multiplayer shooter, has gone through multiple nerfs (and buffs) throughout its life cycle. A few examples stand out however.
    • Ela's Scorpion gun absolutely melted through enemies with its high fire rate, large magazine, and low recoil when it was first introduced. Responding to her ridiculously high pick rate, Ubisoft raised the recoil considerably.
    • Blackbeard's rifle shield, at launch, barely affected his recoil and was rarely destroyed over the course of a round. When the nerf went live, the shield could be destroyed in a handful of shots (though he did get a second one to compensate). His pick rate, however, still remained decent regardless.
    • Lion's detection scan ability absolutely tore through its first run in the Pro League, as the ability to keep enemies still proved invaluable at high levels. The scan was since nerfed heavily: Lion can only use it twice a round with a 20-second cooldown. Plus, the scan stopped working once an enemy stopped moving.

  • Gauntlet bore witness to one of video gaming's first nerfs. The warrior and wizard both took reductions to their upgraded shot power in the nefarious 'Final Revision' of Gauntlet 1, and had their food allotment VASTLY reduced in Gauntlet 2. Annoyingly, they weren't 'too strong', people simply picked them the most often due to stereotypes of warriors and wizards in RPGs.
  • Many of the entries in the Dynasty Warriors franchise do this, especially the ones based on licensed properties. Dynasty Warriors 6: Empires nerfs Lu Bu, heretofore the most fearsome badass in the game. There is nothing quite like the emotional roller coaster of having Lu Bu defect to join your side ("HELL YEAH! Let the rampage begin!") only to see him get spanked by some generic NPC officer.
    • One Piece: Pirate Warriors seems to be the most guilty of this out of all the entries, for understandable reasons. Since the source material that it's based on is a shounen manga that features extremely powerful characters, it makes sense to take them down a notch for a video game in which they're playable, to avoid making the game too easy. For example, Law's Room only spans a few meters in the game, despite being able to cover entire mountains in the manga.
  • Capcom seems to have intentionally watered down Issen (One-Hit Kill) attacks in Onimusha 3: Demon Siege. Now, rather than zipping through each level and timing your attacks correctly to kill everything in sight, it's a coin toss whether or not the Issen can be pulled off. Unfortunately, one of the game's unlockables requires beating twelve waves of increasingly-tougher enemies using only Issen. Under these requirements, even The Goombas can wipe you out.

  • Ultima Online is an early example. Developers made a change early in the game's life that turned all melee weapons down to a bare fraction of their former strength. Players compared the end result to hitting the enemy with a Nerf bat, and a new term was coined.
  • EverQuest received its fair share over its long (and still ongoing) lifespan. Since the game had a much stronger focus on PvE than PvP, the developers spent most of their time focusing on PvE balance and, as a result, player-versus-player combat was rarely ever balanced. This is but a small list of the more notable and popular nerfs.
    • At the game's inception, Warriors were surprisingly powerful. Even in mediocre gear, a warrior could easily best enemies several levels higher than themselves without assistance due to excellent damage output and very high innate damage mitigation. Their abilities were brought more into line with other classes, and to make them more dependent on healers as was the original intent of the designers.
    • Initially, summoned minions' attack rate would drop to either their default delay, or the delay of whatever weapons they had equipped but still use their level-based damage. Because of that, equipping a minion with a pair of daggers (low damage, fast attack speed) made them attack insanely fast without any loss of damage per hit. This, combined with the Necromancer's ability to feign death and make himself untargetable by NPCs, led to many players farming XP while sleeping as hostile NPCs attacked their new blender-style pets. This was nerfed when the developers fixed minion delay at a set amount regardless of the equipped weapon.
    • Another minion-based nerf was the ability of minions to activate weapons with the "dismiss summoned" line of spells on any type of creature (they normally only work on elemental-type creatures). Dismiss summoned (and its higher-tier version) inflicts a lot of damage and kicks off very often, and the weapons with the effect could be summoned for free by Magicians, making any minion equipped with them insanely powerful. This effect was eventually fixed to work only on the proper target type.
    • Enchanters used to be highly feared in PvP for their ability to charm other players in combat, effectively robbing the victim of control of their character, which then became a fully controllable minion for the enchanter while the affected player could only watch. This led to some enchanters keeping their opponents charmed for hours unless the offending player logged out, or could result in the enchanter sending the charmed player off to attack enemies far too strong for them to kill, resulting in a non-PvP death (and the resulting loss in XP that entails). Player-cast Charm spells were eventually changed to not affect other players.
    • The Manaburn spell, when introduced, would allow a wizard to convert all of their mana into an incredibly powerful one-shot spell. Sounds like a balanced tradeoff at first. Cue entire groups of wizards running to raid zones and all collectively manaburning raid bosses in an instant. The spell was modified so that it applies a temporary debuff that makes the target immune to subsequent manaburn spells for a short period of time.
    • Initially, area-effect spells had no limit to the number of targets they could hit, so classes such as Druids, who had the ability to slow down enemies, speed themselves up, and cast area-effect damage spells, could gather up dozens of enemies and then blast them down for massive XP gains in short periods of time. Eventually, targeted area-effect spells were limited to only four targets, which led to AE kiting being named "Quad Kiting" by the community.
  • Granblue Fantasy: When certain SSR characters are ridiculously overpowered, they'll quickly get nerfed by Cygames.
    • Hallessena could apply 40% attack buffs to herself for every turn so it got nerfed to 25%. Given that she loses the buff upon taking damage, it was later changed to 35% and given a cap.
    • Korwa was subject to a nerf because of her buffs being permanent and stronger than any other character released in the game at that time, letting players beat high level raids solo. The nerf changed it so she has to constantly reapply buffs.
    • The Luminiera Sword Omega possesses the passive skills "Horus's Majesty"note  and "Light's Might"note . While the weapon isn't much at base values, the way skill-ups and damage modifiers work makes this a contender for best weapon in the game at max power. The nerfbatting, while not directly aimed at the sword's stats, came in the form of locking the "Light's Might" skill until the weapon reaches level 120note , making it so only seven swords can be bought with Renown per account, and making the drop rate so abysmal that players often consider the sword a worthy use of a Damascus Bar.
    • Threo's Ground Zero skill was used in the Arcarum mode to clear through enemy mobs since no enemy had HP that went higher then her skill's damage cap. With the Extreme mode update, its damage is now halved whenever playing in Arcarum.
  • Improbable Island's food system received a major overhaul in August 2012 to solve the problem that cooking the meat you get from monsters was much less effective than simply buying food from restaurants. One of the changes was that restaurant food was nerfed. It now gives less stamina, costs more and is not always available.
  • In Final Fantasy XI, which emphasizes cooperative play more than the average MMORPG, any perceived "nerf" of a job class can grossly affect that class's invitation rates for years to come, often far out of proportion to the actual impact of the change. The most infamous was the "Dragoon nerf", actually a nerfing of multi-hit weaponskills in general that prevented them from being spammed, which happened to hit the Dragoon's most famous weaponskill particularly hard. For years, despite the introduction of enemies that a Dragoon would work well against and some shoring up of the job's most glaring weaknesses, Dragoons had a very hard time getting invited to experience point parties; this state of affairs only changed with a controversially large Buff to all two-handed weapons.
    • Ranger was at one point stupidly overpowered. They could used ranged attacks within melee range, while still melee attacking, which allowed them to build TP (used for weaponskills) at an accelerated rate, could subjob Ninja in order to dual wield daggers with bonuses to ranged attack, buy really strong arrows, and generally wreck everything, 'especially' things that were weak to piercing. Non-RNGs complained that RNGs were basically turning gil into damage, and SE eventually nerfed ranged attacks so that they were at their strongest and most accurate from well beyond melee range, so that rangers would actually be a ranged class.
    • The two-hand weapon buff mentioned above had to be slightly nerfed within a month of its implementation. Originally, 2 STR translated to one extra point of attack. The buff caused it to be a 1-to-1 increase for 2 handed weapons, which made WAR, SAM, DRK, and even DRG absurdly powerful. They "adjusted" it back to where 1 STR was worth .75 attack.
    • Square Enix once comically broke the game when they buffed Scholar's unique damage-over-time attacks. They wrote the code such that they stacked exponentially, instead of just doubling every time. The math worked out to 18 SCHs in an alliance all stacking one of those damage-over-time attacks to be doing something like 18 million damage per tick. The resulting nerfed was joked to be the "World's Fastest Patch," as Square Enix (successfully) scrambled to nerf it back to balance.
    • A minor one happened to Ninja. Ninja would tank using the ninjutsu "Utsusemi" to create "shadows" that would absorb attacks for them. One shadow meant one physical attack completely absorbed. Normally, when a player is attacked by a mob, their hate is dropped by a tiny amount, presumably to make tanks actually try. Originally this was not the case if a shadow absorbed the attack, the NIN's hate would not be affected. They nerfed it such that there was a normal hate decrease when the enemy hit a shadow.
  • City of Heroes:
    • "Enhancement Diversification" ("ED"). Pre-ED, you could enhance a given characteristic (damage, accuracy, etc.) of a superpower up to six times for the same cumulative boost (Totaling a tripling of the power's statistic in some areas, doubling with defensive powers). With ED, players started seeing a loss of returns at around the third enhancement (doubled effect for most offensive effects, about a 60% boost for defensive effects), in order to encourage players to spread the wealth around and enhance different characteristics. Naturally, a lot of strategies that relied on powers being pushed to their limits or breaking the game no longer worked.
    • Later, Invention Enhancements were introduced; they could circumvent the limitations of ED in a variety of interesting ways, often resulting in characters much more highly customized and/or powerful than they were before ED with clever slotting. The Devs claimed this was the point behind previous nerfs; they needed to make the absurdly powerful heroes weaker to enable them to do neat things to power them up again.
    • Prior to ED, the Regeneration powerset had been significantly reduced in effectiveness at least once every update. This reduced it from ridiculous, allowing the DPSer to absorb more damage than the tank, to merely very good.
    • And not too long before ED, there was a rather more straightforward nerf to nearly all defensive powers, officially described as a Global Defense Reduction. The lone upside of all this was almost all the defensive powers were reworked so that they stacked.
    • At around the same time, agro limits and AoE target caps were introduced. Before, one could herd/damage every enemy on a map, provided they stayed in range. Now, you cannot damage, mez, or affect more than 16 foes with the most massive AE power (caps usually range from 5-12 on most powers, though), and a single player cannot have more than 16 AI trained on him/her. (This can actually be an advantage in extraordinarily large fights).
  • While Champions Online goes through the same regular nerf and buff cycles as other MMORPGs, particularly notable was the Gadgeteering On-Next-Hit debacle. Developers weren't happy with the moves Sonic Device, Toxic Nanites, and Miniaturization Drive, because players could combine all three into a single, overpowered attack, and the abilities were too effective against multiple opponents. So, in a single patch, the two weaker abilities had their cooldowns raised to match the stronger Sonic Device, all three were given a shared cooldown(effectively removing any point in getting more than one), and they no longer triggered on attacks that hit multiple opponents(destroying their usefulness with numerous players, considering the emphasis CO puts on multitarget fights). Needless to say, no one liked any of these changes, much less getting hit with all three at once. Amusingly though, the announcement of these changes weeks earlier wasn't met with vitriolic hate, but with pages and pages of calm, rational discussion about much smarter ways they could've solved the same problems without rendering the three abilities completely worthless. Fortunately, it wasn't long before developers realized what a moronic move they made, and redid the changes, using some of the same suggestions users had provided, but had gone ignored.
  • Star Wars: Galaxies:
    • At its release, and for at least two years afterward, it featured Mandalorian armor, a ridiculously overpowered set of equipment. All crafting relied on a combination of player stats and material stats. While this led to no two pieces of equipment being the same, enterprising industrialists soon discovered methods to create armor with resistance to damage >90%. While fine in the beginning (the price of the armor meant meeting another player with a full set was a rare sight), the entire system of manufacturing the armor soon hit the point where full sets of 99% resistance Mandalorian Armor were (relatively) cheap to obtain. Players soon became immortal. Eventually, SOE responded and dropped the nerfbat in the hardest way possible, limiting resistances to 90% and making anything above 80% or so ridiculously difficult to obtain.
    • In an inversion of this trope, the game featured Bone Armor, a cheap pile of useless armor everyone wanted in the first weeks of the game. No one noticed when the armor was suddenly buffed so it actually resisted damage.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • World of Warcraft has been through many nerfs and buffs over the many years it has existed - to the point that people who take a break for a few years find their old class requires a new learning curve. There are endless debates as to what Blizzard is or should be balancing for - often the developers say they have to plan for the end raids, which change each expansion, but this frustrates the casual non-raiders who claim they play the same game and pay the same money yet have to learn a new playstyle for something that doesn't affect them.
    • In the original release, physical classes tended to receive nerfs fairly often, although it's arguably the wrong way to address the balance issue — the real problem is that physical stats scale far better than magical stats. The prime example is Agility versus Intellect. Agility improves damage for rogues, hunters, feral druids, and enhancement shaman, critical hit chance, and pretty much every physical defensive attribute. Intelligence only increases mana and spell critical hit chance (at a much lower rate). Strength also being a strong attribute for Death Knights' parry also doesn't help matters.
    • Individual Cycles tend to be seen too. Spell functionality changes are common as one class becomes too dominate or one style becomes the one true style to play. It gets very strange when spells get nerfed for being too powerful but come back at a higher level. Sleep becomes a huge example as in Beta it was the end all be all Mez before being removed for being too powerful and was put back in the game a few years later.
    • Prior to the introduction of The Burning Crusade shaman were essentially designed to act as near counterparts to paladins in terms of functionality. While difficult, it was entirely possible to have a shaman cover all three roles in a party: Tank, heal, and dps. When paladins and shaman became available to both factions, the talents and stats required to make a shaman tank were removed, while the talents and skills required to make a paladin tank were brought up to a level near the Warrior (long considered the only "real" raid tank class).
    • With every expansion, each class in the game (and in fact some basic game mechanics) gets a complete overhaul, in preparation for the raising of the level cap. The developers try to balance these newly-changed classes on their Beta realms, but these Beta servers just don't have enough players to get a broad statistical sample. As a result, when the overhauls do go live, there is at first a great class imbalance (e.g. retribution paladins in 3.0, fire mages in 4.0), followed quickly by a flurry of nerfs, followed slowly by occasional buffs here and there until the game settles down.
    • An odd case of a perceived-nerf-that-was-actually-a-buff, shadow priests in 4.2 had their damage tweaked where direct damage spells were buffed by 12% and damage-over-time spells were reduced 12%. To the uneducated who assume shadow priests are wannabe affliction warlocks, it was assumed that shadow had lost its teeth. However, with the addition of Dark Archangel and stacking max shadow orbs implemented at the start of Cataclysm, direct damage spells grew in power exponentially with their buff while dots were nerfed linearly. Now, shadow priests can compete with other top-graded dps like hunters and mages.
    • In Mists of Pandaria, warlocks got a talent called Soul Leech that gave them a damage absorb equal to a percentage of the damage they deal. Said damage absorb was renewed with even more strength each time the warlock did damage, eventually stacking up to 100% of their health. Due to the imbalance this brought both PVE and PVP, including warlocks being able to No-Sell many boss mechanics, Soul Leech's cap was eventually brought down to only 15% of their health and made a baseline ability along with having a shorter duration.
    • In Battle for Azeroth, one of the new Allied Races, Zandalari trolls, were given a racial ability called Regeneration that healed them to full health over four seconds and could be used every two minutes, far stronger than the two other racial heals availablenote . Even those not playing the beta immediately called out how overpowered the racial was. Come the live release, Regeneration had it's cooldown increased to two and a half minutes, duration increased to six seconds, and was interrupted by any damage taken.
  • Kingdom of Loathing has had nerfings, as with any game of its type, but it also makes fun of the concept with the "foam dart" item, which can be used on any player to give them the "Nerf'd" condition. The condition prints messages that makes it sound like you're doing less damage and getting less item drops, but it doesn't in fact actually do anything.
  • Because of its highly competitive and balanced PvP, skills in Guild Wars are almost constantly being tweaked, adjusted, buffed and nerfed to keep things balanced; some skills were even split into PvP and PvE versions to make them balanced in 2 totally different game modes. However, a controversial change saw the balance team blatantly destroy the PvP version of one skill (Smiter's Boon) by nerfing it as absolutely as is physically possible (maximum energy cost possible which is 5 times the previous cost, duration nerfed to 1/6th of its previous length and recharge changed to a ridiculous 45 times its duration). They openly admitted their intention was simply to stop people from using the skill in PvP at all and they succeeded since it is now completely and utterly unusable under any circumstances whatsoever. There was much rage. Heck, the S-Boon nerf became SO well-known that they turned it into an Ascended Meme and had one of the enemies use it on your characters!
  • EVE Online:
    • A big one was the HAC speed nerf. This eliminated a tactic use by many 0.0 alliance to essentially be invulnerable to damage yet completely dominate targets.
    • Also the Falcon buff and revision. They decided that the best jamming ship in the game needed a boost. This led to fights where half or more of the opposing fleet was out of action because Falcons could jam tagets from far beyond engagement ranges. It took a year and very vocal opponets but they returned it to its orginal stats. Now if they'll just fix rockets...
    • In almost every update of the "Tiericide" ship-rebalancing initiative, some ships end up getting hammered. For example, prior to 2012, the Minmatar Hurricane was one of the most popular battlecruisers around (second only to the Drake, and preferred in PvP), capable of fitting very powerful autocannons or artillery, backed up by paired energy neutralizers that would flatten the capacitors of any ship that got close enough to threaten it. Then with the Retribution patch, suddenly the Hurricane didn't have enough powergrid for its traditional roles, and then battlecruiser rebalancing proposed yet another hit from the nerf-hammer...
  • Wizard 101: One of the few explicit examples of this being the Waterworks equipment compared to the best equipment from the the previous release. Previously in to balance Ice school's horrible attack power (literally less than the The Medic), Ice was the only school that could equip gear that granted resistance to all attacks. Other schools gear gave them resistance to spells that were either their own school or the other school in their on their side of the element/spirit line. Waterworks gear not only gave all other schools resistance to all attacks, but it also gave Ice less resistance to all attacks than the previous gear. Although Ice school still has greater resistance to attacks and blocking critical attacks than the other schools, the next closest schools resit is only 3% less and three other schools have a little under 2% less chance of blocking critical hits than Ice does. Compare to the boost other schools received from their gear.
  • Final Fantasy XIV has Holy, a powerful spell for White Mages that can do massive damage (if the user has Cleric's Stance on) and cause Stun to all enemies caught in the blast. People started to rely on Holy to clear out cluster of enemies, which outpaced some damage dealing classes like Dragoons and Black Mages. Square-Enix nerfed Holy's power so that White Mages would stick to their role as a healer instead of a damage dealer. However, Holy would get nerfed a 2nd time by using diminishing returns for its power. In other words, the more enemies that the spell hits, the less damage it does to each target beyond the first target. The Black Mage's Flare spell received a similar nerf and both Black and White Mage players were not happy having their most powerful spells being weakened.
  • Dawn of the Dragons had several items that were quickly nerfed, largely due to massive imbalance.
    • "Omer's Collar" was an equippable item that was rewarded in a World Raid for hitting a high-enough tier of damage, and was likely intended to only give a chance at double attack to Human-class raids. Instead, the item gave a double proc to all raids, thus allowing people who had obtained to autolevel several hundred levels in a short time frame. The item was quickly patched and had its description reworked to add the limitation after it was discovered by the devs.
    • "Guster's Fault" was a magic that dropped random boxes at a 20% hit rate, with items inside that ranged from low-tier skill books, minor potions and legion materials to high-level stat boosters, volatile pots (which restore 25% of the user's energy) and powerful skill books. The problem came in implementing the hit rate - it was a consistent 20%, regardless of whether the user hit a raid with a "1-hit" or "20-hit" attack. As a result, the servers lagged constantly for a day, users farmed raids in order to get hundreds of boxes, and new users soon found themselves swimming in tens of thousands of stat points, along with boosters that normally aren't available to anyone except high-level players. Despite the devs originally claiming the magic was "working as intended", it was quickly patched to remove the high-level items and limit the drop rates on the boxes.

    Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas 
  • Most MOBAs in general exist in a constant state of nerfing and buffing characters, spells, and items.
    • In League of Legends, two champions with extended stealth options, Evelyn and Twitch, were deliberately overnerfed because their abilities were so frustrating for new players to deal with. It wasn't until their reworks were finalized where they were un-nerfed, a process that took approximately one year.
    • Another notorious example was Olaf who, after being a dominant force for a long time, was intentionally nerfed to the point of being unviable and left in this state for several seasons. As a result champions who are similarly nerfed are said to have been "Olaf'd".
    • "Better Nerf Irelia" and "Better Nerf Sona" became memes at points in the game's lifespan. Both champions were nerfed several patches in a row and nerfed fairly heavily, until the players started spamming things like "X champion is OP? Better nerf Irelia (or Sona)."
  • DOTA 2 is interesting in its philosophy of nerfing: If a hero is overpowered, don't nerf the OP ability, nerf something else. This leads to heroes who appear overpowered, but have severe weaknesses to make up for it.
  • The Assassin in Monday Night Combat was never very good at actually assassinating anything (since doing so requires that the enemy team ignore you while you do a five-second grapple on your target), but her cloak, speed, and high DPS made her useful for controlling bot lanes and pub-stomping. Naturally, this led to a bunch of complaining from pub players, and she was nerfed into the ground, making her useless against teams with anything resembling coordination. Not that this has stopped people from complaining about her, of course.

    Platform Games 
  • Mega Man 2: Atari De-Make: The original Metal Blade was regarded as too overpowered. Here, it can no longer be fired upwards nor downwards, and there can only be two blades at the time. Also, instead of instantly killing Metal Man, it deals him a great damage.
  • Rockman 4 Minus Infinity:
    • The Balloon Adapter is a version of the Rush Jet Adapter, but Mega Man can only use it 3 times.
    • Hell Wheel was nerfed in one release, before getting buffed in the May 2011 update (namely, taking more projectiles and not getting cancelled by ladders). Still doesn't stop it from being a Game-Breaker, though.
  • If you try to exit a level with Yoshi in the Something Rom Hack series, you immediately lose him. This is because Yoshi was a Game-Breaker in the original Super Mario World.
  • In Super Mario World, the Cape Feather was regarded as a Game-Breaker as you could easily fly through levels with ease. Although the feather has never appeared in a main series game since then (minus ports and Super Mario Advance 4's eReader), some hacks have made the Cape Feather's "flight" feature null, preventing you from easily flying through levels. Still doesn't stop you from defeating Dry Bones though.
  • In Sonic Generations some of the returning abilities got a nerf. The Boost's ability to draw rings was severely reduced from Unleashed, the elemental shields from Sonic 3 & Knuckles lost their ability to deflect small projectiles, and Super Sonic costs a lot more rings to use in normal levels compared to every other time the power shows up, including this game's final boss.

    Puzzle Games 
  • Several spells in Puzzle Quest: Challenge Of The Warlords were drastically nerfed in the port from consoles to the PC. In particular the Knight's Stun and the Wizard's Fireball, which were both give two-turn recharge times and slightly reduced damage.
  • In Tetris DS, as well as some other "Tetris Guideline" games, offers a "T-Spin Triple" bonus for using a twist to clear 3 lines with a T piece. Said bonus came out to be more than for a Tetris. Tetris Zone and some other newer official Tetris games attempt to nerf this problem by simply not recognizing T-Spin Triples, counting them as normal Triples instead.
  • The Tetris: The Grand Master series has combo multipliers that multiply the amount of "grade points" you get for a line clear. In TGM2, due to an off-by-one error, you can get this multiplier with single line clears (which in turn causes Tetrises to be stuck with a 1.0 multiplier regardless of combo). In TGM3, this was corrected so that single line clears will never have a multiplier.
  • In the original DS version of Meteos, Forte has pathetically weak horizontal matches but incredibly strong vertical ones. With this attribute, Forte could launch massive garbage block attacks on the opponent, as skillful use of its ignition scheme created a technique known by high-level players as a "piston" in which blocks are kept in midair through horizontal matches, scoring points and building up the garbage meter, until the player feels like removing the blocks by making a vertical match anywhere.note  In Meteos Wars, Forte's garbage block output is by far the lowest in the game, with less than half of the average planet in proportion to blocks cleared. This change drastically altered Forte's means to victory, from overwhelming the opponent until they're eliminated to outscoring the opponent while timing out the clock. There were other planets nerfed between these two games, but it's the most pronounced with Forte.

    Racing Games 
  • Burnout Paradise:
    • Before a certain patch, one could go into a Road Rage and the timer would go up forever so long as you kept taking down drivers. People would get in excess of 100 takedowns. After that patch, if you do a Road Rage, the timer will stop going up once you hit the target number of takedowns.
    • Another patching effect was to make beginner cars slower.
  • Mario Kart:
    • The infamous snaking technique. In the DS version, players snaked by quickly drifting left to right on straight roads and doing mini turbos. Only certain characters could drift this way effectively without losing control and the mini turbos they got were almost like a mushroom. Naturally, flame wars broke out over whether this technique was fair. The Wii version changes the drifting and mini turbo mechanic, making snaking near impossible to do.
    • The Red Shells are also tweaked from Mario Kart DS. In the DS game, Red Shells were smart and attacked drivers from the side instead of behind, making the "hold item behind you for a shield" strategy almost useless. In the Wii version, the shells go back to the old "follow directly behind the target" behavior.
    • Bikes for Mario Kart 8 can no longer pop a wheelie for speed boosts, due to everyone using bikes only in Mario Kart Wii sorely for the speed boost. Bikes still retain their sharp cornering ability, making them good for sharp turns.
      • The same game also changed how holding items work. In the past, people would hold a banana peel or green shell behind them and then grab another item box to have a second item on reserve, effectively giving them two shields. While items can still be dragged behind you, the items will still be in your inventory until you drop the item on the track.
    • Mushrooms were extremely overpowered in Super Mario Kart to the point where you could pass by several people at once. However, Mario Kart 64 nerfed Mushrooms too heavily, resulting in speed boosts becoming worthless. It took a few more games for the developers to find the right balance for the Mushrooms.
    • Being hit by bombs or shells were sometimes a death sentence because being hit by said items would send you tumbling sideways and sometimes off the track. Mario Kart 8 changed the tumble mechanic to have you simply fly upwards and cancels all momentum.
  • Missiles got nerfed in Diddy Kong Racing DS. In the original game, collecting a red balloon three times gave you a full supply of ten missiles, which could be fully replenished simply by running over a red balloon again. In the DS version, you only get five missles, and they've been reduced to the second-stage weapon, meaning hitting another balloon upgrades you multi-missiles into a single homing missile instead.

    Real-Time Strategy 
  • Warcraft III: Much like its successor, World of Warcraft, the game saw many units and abilities nerfed to balance online play. These occurred via patches and, especially, when the Frozen Throne expansion was released. A few notable examples include:
    • The cooldown time for the Demon Hunter's Mana Burn ability was increased in one early patch when it proved to be too overpowered. Prior to this, when attacked, the Demon Hunter could stand near the Night Elf Moon Wells (which instantly recharged mana,) allowing the DH to deal both damage and drain the mana of the enemy heroes using Mana Burn until the wells dried up.
    • The Witch Doctor's Healing Wards saw their HP reduced so that nearly any unit could destroy them in one hit. Prior to this, it was a popular technique to have a group of "docs" all place Healing Wards near the player's army, healing said army and forcing to the opponent to focus their fire on the wards to destroy them.
    • The additions of extra weapon and armor types in Frozen Throne were seen as nerfing a number of units. No longer could spellcasters, who now did magic damage instead of piercing damage, be relied upon for anti-air duties. (Air units being strong vs. magic damage.) Likewise, Huntresses went from medium armor to unarmored, making them useless as a primary melee unit. (Unarmored being weak to the piercing attacks of most ranged units, and vulnerable to siege weapons. [1])
    • A buffed example in Frozen Throne is the ability of the Night Elf buildings to defend themselves without uprooting. A popular tactic prior to this was for attacking armies to "rush" the Night Elf player, forcing him to uproot his trees to defend himself and thus, cut off resource flow and unit production until the buildings were re-rooted. Unlike the Orc burrows and Human militia, which could each return to work immediately after the attack, the Night Elf player would be delayed waiting for his gold mine to become entangled once again.
    • Humans were gradually toned down and buffed in other aspects over time for Competitive Balance sake, but the most pronounced change was in the towers they can build; in counter-chronological order, the "Masonry Upgrade" (Building HP) effectiveness was reduced in half for all three tiers which also affects every building the Humans can build, the towers were nerfed to gain 1/2 the armor points from the same upgrade, the tower's initial phase (before an upgrade is selected) was reduced in hitpoints and given ZERO armor mitigation and in The Frozen Throne expansion's release, the towers were changed to an armor class that takes full damage from all attacks, but is vulnerable to magical damage. This was all likely an effort to nerf the effectiveness of using towers to fortify an attack on an enemy town and the annoyance of attacking a human town that is swarming with towers. The Sole EXCEPTION is the Cannon Tower upgrade, which was allowed to keep the "Fortified Armor" attribute.
  • In the original Age of Empires II, one of the Tutons' civilization bonuses was +5 range to their Town Centers, which was supposed to make them better on the defensive. Instead, players took advantage of the boosted range to use Town Centers as offensive weapons, building them near enemy towns and fully garrisoning them, slaughtering everything in a large radius with massive arrow volleys. This led to Tutonic Town Centers being nicknamed "Death Stars" by the community. In The Conquerors Expansion Pack, Tutonic Town Centers now get +5 Line of Sight instead of range. Archery technologies were also changed to boost Town Center Line of Sight rather than Range, as they could get really crazy when stacked with this bonus. (These changes also encouraged players to use buildings defensively as intended)
  • Brütal Legend had some infamous exploits before the November balance patch. Ironheade's Single Player properties made the hero's army too powerful in Multiplayer. Eddie could use Facemelter to butcher the opponents units right when they walk off the base, they could summon animals anywhere they want with Call of the Wild, and of course, spam dozens of Fire Barons to wipe out enemies in a short amount of time. In response, Double Fine made all the Facemelter solos weaker and unavailable until Tier 2, Call of the Wild only summoned the animals at the base, and Fire Barons became weaker and more expensive. Ironheade was more severely nerfed than the other two armies.
  • Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight: The beta was horribly unbalanced. One particular unit was the GDI Offence Class Striker. Easily the fastest land unit in the game, it could jump cliffs, be upgraded to fire faster, more accuratly, and be faster. Plus its laser was strong aginst the heavy armor of the Crawler, your Base on Wheels. Yeah. That was patched VERY quickly, but it wasn't uncommon for whole teams of Nod Players to ragequit as soon as they saw ONE.
  • The StarCraft games go through continuous buffing and nerfing to improve game balance, given the franchise's incredible popularity in the Professional Gaming scene. For example, StarCraft: Brood War's Corsair, an air-to-air Space Fighter flown by the dark templar, features a power called Disruption Web that targets an area on the ground and prevents ground units and towers from attacking while inside it, helping with airdrop deployments among other things. This ability's duration was severely reduced in the 1.08 patch, which also gave several nerfs to other protoss powers and units, buffs to the terrans, and a mixture to the zerg; the Corsair nerf is notable because it has noticeable effects on the difficulty of the unit's introductory mission in the protoss single-player campaign.

    Rhythm Games 
  • Not even Rhythm Games are safe. The Rock Band franchise has a few examples:
    • Some note charts can change noticeably when exporting songs between Rock Band and Rock Band 2, making them just a bit harder to pull off, due to the hammer-ons and pull-offs now being decided in the note charts themselves instead of the game automatically applying them. This is especially noticeable in "Thunderstruck", which has an intro section consisting entirely of hammer-on/pull-off notes in the original Track Pack release (making it very possible to play nearly the whole intro with one hand), but in Rock Band 2 half the notes need to be strummed as normal.
    • Rock Band Blitz: The Flame Notes power-up has downgraded from a Game-Breaker to Joke Power-up in an update... then was restored.

    Shoot 'em Ups 
  • In Raiden II, the Spread Shot's damage was decreased.
  • In RayStorm, the R-Gray 2 is the better ship to use for scoring, as it can achieve 16 lock-on shots and a x256 point multiplier (in contrast to R-Gray 1's 8 lock-on shots and x128 multiplier). In RayCrisis, R-G1's counterpart Wave Rider 01R has the same number of lock-ons as WR 01R, but now the shot multipliers go up to x256 at the maximum of 8 lock-ons, making it a more effective scoring ship than 02R (R-G2's counterpart).
  • Thunder Force VI nerfs the game-breaking Free Range weapon from Thunder Force V, decreasing its range and damage output. It also nerfs Over Weapons by reducing your speed to 25% while one is active, making you a Glacial Glass Cannon.
  • DoDonPachi Dai-Fukkatsu:
    • There is a special shot type called Strong Style that gives your ship broken firepower. In Dai-Fukkatsu Black Label, picking Strong Style will turn up the game to 2nd-loop difficulty to balance out your immense firepower.
    • DFK version 1.5 grants you auto-bomb, which fires a Smart Bomb for you every time you get hit as long as you have bombs left. In DFK Black Label, you can switch it off. In DFK version 1.51, auto-bombing will take away all of your remaining bombs instead of just your current one.
  • Asteroids Deluxe nerfed the original game's weakness (you could rack up points by leaving a large rock remaining from the first wave, sit in one spot and just pick off the saucers one by one) by having the saucers shoot at the rocks as well as the player ship.

  • NetHack: Yeenoghu's confusion attack as originally implemented had its own proper effect combined with that of Death's deadly touch due to an improperly coded switch statement. This bug existed for a surprisingly long time before being patched.

    Simulation Games 
  • X-Universe:
    • In X3: Reunion the Split Python was one of the best destroyers in the game: average shields, top-of-class speed and maneuvering, and great weapons coverage. It was the victim of a serious nerf in X3: Terran Conflict that removed its ability to mount flak weapons, forcing it to use corvette guns for fighter defense.
    • In X3: Reunion, Paranid M3-class fighters could mount the Phased Shockwave Generator, a stupidly powerful Wave-Motion Gun that could be used against ships ten times the size of the fighter and win. The Phased Shockwave Generator was nerfed so that only Paranid capital ships (frigates and above) could mount it.
    • Likewise, in Terran Conflict a properly flown Split Panther frigate could solo a Standard Starship Scuffle against heavy capital ships (it does take fancy flying, mind you), since it has excellent weapons coverage and selection, average shields, more fighters than some full size carriers, and maneuvering and power generation stats equal to its fighterless sister design the Tiger. The weapons generators were nerfed in X3: Albion Prelude, to the annoyance of Panther-lovers.
    • Up to the 3.0 Terran Conflict patch, the Terran Tokyo carrier was somewhat of a Game-Breaker because its weapons generators were strong enough for it to fire its anticapital guns indefinitely. The 3.0 patch nerfed said generators, but nobody really minded since carriers aren't supposed to be able to do that.
  • Descent:
    • Fusion Cannon was significantly nerfed in Descent II, only dealing half the damage of its D1 counterpart, and losing its damage increasing glitch (fire through an enemy and it gets stronger). The Plasma Cannon and Mega Missiles were also weakened somewhat.
    • In the third game, the Vulcan and Gauss cannons were replaced by the Vauss cannon, which is weaker than the Gauss, but stronger than the Vulcan. The Gauss cannon was a major Game-Breaker in Descent II.
  • There was a heated debate in the Oolite forums about the announced removal of the Energy Bomb from the next test version of the game. Ultimately it was left in, but only until the Mythical Next Stable Release.
  • The MechWarrior games have seemingly swayed back and forth on which weapons receive nerfs in a series update and which get buffs.
    • The first MechWarrior game saw the use of Hitscan energy weapons and missile/ballistic weapons with some travel time to them. This made PPC-carrying 'Mechs a game-changer, especially since it was the game that also offered some of the the easiest cockpit kills in the series.
    • MechWarrior 2 rather literally changed everything; 'Mechs now had cockpit 'panels' rather than heads, to prevent a 100-ton monster from going down from five shots from a 20-ton light 'Mech's medium laser. All energy weapons now had a travel time, with PPCs in particular seeing a distinct speed and damage nerf. Most ballistics were nearly useless because of the way the game read damage, and missiles became a mainstay. Enemy 'Mechs now took considerable time and effort to bring down, above and beyond whatever the tabletop game or fiction mythos might have suggested, and your double-PPC rig could no longer reliably decapitate an 85-ton Assault 'Mech.
    • MechWarrior 3 changed several things again. While missiles went unchanged, lasers returned to their original Hitscan status. Ballistic weapons saw a much-needed boost, and even the PPC class of weapons got improvements in speed and damage. Strangely enough, Mech survivability itself received a nerf as a result of the game's engine. While the second game allowed a Mech to survive (if futilely so) with just one leg, the third installment considered any 'Mech with a severed leg as 'destroyed' and out of the fight. This made the game both surprisingly easy or frustratingly tough, depending on what you were facing at the time (Operation 2-4, anyone?).
    • MechWarrior 4 changed things up once again. Strangely enough, the biggest nerf from a strictly canonical angle was the hangar phase. This was where you could go in and change the loadouts, armor, and equipment on your Humongous Mecha to suit your own tastes. Prior games since 2 gave you the ability to change your design considerably. 4, however, introduced the slot system, a move that was not universally beloved. Where previous games would allow, say, a six-PPC Assault 'Mech to be piloted, 4's system limited 'Mech loadouts by weapon type, and the multi-PPC machine was usually just a dream. This became most unusual when some of the largest 'Mechs in the series could only mount a single PPC while having weight for several more even when a design 25% lighter could carry four of them. Furthermore, the weapons in their entirety seemed to suffer from raw damage limitations while survivability has increased. For instance, the Autocannon-20 class weapons in 3 were nightmarish armor-slicing buzz saws, capable of shredding any 'Mech's armor with worrying speed and usually annihilating smaller 'Mechs outright with a single shot. By the end of the 4th generation games, an AC-20 shot could not penetrate the intact centerline armor of the smallest 'Mech in the game. A Mech that weighs just 6 tons more than the AC-20 itself. Similar damage nerfs followed practically all the weapons in the series' generation.
    • MechWarrior 5 is currently trapped in Development Hell thanks to lawsuits from Harmony Gold, but if the trailer is to be believed as gameplay footage (which is unlikely at best), Mech damage soaking might again be nerfed given how quickly two of the three major players in the trailer are destroyed, and how much damage the third absorbs. Oddly enough, machine guns, which have been uncommonly strong in the face of multi-ton armored war machines in all prior game incarnations, seem to have been nerfed as well.
  • Ace Combat had the Quick-Maneuver Air-to-Air Missile, starting in Ace Combat 04. While restricted to three aircraft, it was pretty much the Game-Breaker anti-air missile, which could chase a plane constantly until the missile gave up or ran out of fuel. Later games had this weapon nerfed, though it's the weapon everyone likes to use in 6 because certain aircraft carry it in spades, up until Ace Combat: Assault Horizon where the missile finally got a needed re-buff.
  • SimCity 2000 had the hydroelectric power plants, which, unlike other power plants, didn't need to be replaced every 50 years. That meant that one could build a city dependent entirely on hydroelectric power plants and, as long as you had some sort of positive cash flow, leave the city running overnight and come back to find your treasury pleasantly loaded with funds from thousands of years of tax revenue. It was removed entirely in Sim City 3000, with its spiritual successor being the far less game-breaking wind power plant

    Sports Games 
  • Madden NFL provides several examples over the years:
    • '06 added the QB Vision Cone, which nerfed the players who overly relied on the mobile Michael Vick (because his Awareness stat was so low, he had one of the smallest cones in the game). This backfired — after enough practice, with a normal or small vision cone you could effectively deke a defensive back into covering the wrong player; players with large vision cones such as Tom Brady or Peyton Manning could not, effectively nerfing the best pocket passers in the league. The vision cone was removed two years later.
    • '12 removed the easily abusable option plays from the wildcat formation.
    • In the games from the early-mid part of the 2000s, you could manually move defensive players before the snap into positions which could break the offense's blocking AI, thus creating unstoppable blitzes. Starting around Madden 08, the defensive players would return to their designated spot once they are no longer manually controlled, preventing this.
  • NBA 2K typically nerfs a feature or two every year as the Dev team improves:
    • It was pretty easy to dunk on people up to 2k14; all you had to do was run left and right in front of a defender until you got even the tiniest free step to the basket. Then, you could hammer down the sprint button and charge to the rim, instantly entering an animation and posterizing whoever was there. Come 2k15 and 16, defensive physics were improved so it's no longer as easy to lose defenders, and furthermore, you're much more likely to miss the dunk or get blocked if you charge to the rim when taller defenders are there.
    • It was incredibly easy to draw a charge in 2k14 and 15 because the ballhandler would automatically enter the "charge" animation if they sprinted too close to a guy trying to draw one. In 2k16, unless you build up a lot of steam and go right into somebody, it's more likely that you'll just bump them slightly.

    Survival Horror 
  • The 2002 remake of Resident Evil cut down the probability of decapitating zombies with your shotgun and magnum from 100% to about 80% and removed the magnum's ability to consistently score a One-Hit Kill on them. Granted, it's not a common occurrence, but few things in the game are more frustrating than putting two shotgun shells or magnum rounds into a zombie's face, and then realizing that you'll still have to deal with it again once it revives as a Crimson Head.
  • Resident Evil 2 took the reasonably decent knife from the original game and turned into an utterly useless Joke Weapon. The knife in the first game was hardly powerful, but it was entirely possible to take down a single zombie or even Hunter (if you're lucky) with it and live to tell the tale. In the next game, however, it takes anywhere from 20-30 strikes just to knock one zombie down; forget about trying to use it on anything stronger than that. Fortunately, the knife got a minor buff in Resident Evil 3 (though not enough to make it worth the item space to tote around), followed by a massive buff in every game from Code: Veronica onward.

     Third Person Shooter 
  • Splatoon: Several of the special attacks have been nerfed to make them less dominant. The Kraken special (which turns the player into an invincible, ink-spreading Kraken with an instakill melee attack) was modified to suffer increased knockback from attacks. In a later update, the Echolocator and Inkzooka were also nerfed; while the weapons themselves are unchanged, they take longer to charge, meaning they can't be used as often.
    • A common practice in the games involves an observant player timing an opponent's jump point (which is visible unless the player uses Stealth Jump) and opening fire in time to catch them landing, which gives the landing opponent a one-way trip back to the spawning pool nine times out of ten. In Splatoon 2, however, the Splashdown special causes the user to jump up and come down with a blastwave which instakills players in proximity; this move can be used during a super jump to touch down explosively, making such tactics without a Charger a risky proposition.
    • However, in exchange for the above, the stealth jump ability, though slightly compensated for by no longer taking longer than a normal jump, no longer hides your jump if an opposing team member is close to your jump destination.
    • The Quick Respawn ability was nerfed so that you have to get splatted at least twice without downing a single opponent, making it less practical for competent combatants. Also Respawn Punisher can slow down the respawn of anybody who splats them, however due to that rule it can't interfere with Quick Respawn as it requires they splat them, punishing reckless fighters who might value splatting wildly over taking a more careful approach.This, combined with the above nerf, is especially notable for basically destroying the infamous chain jumping strategy that used to dominate tower control in the first game.
    • Another common practice against lopsided teams is for the dominant team to gather in close proximity and fire upon access to the enemy spawning pool to fence them in. The Tenta-Missiles, also introduced in Splatoon 2, acquire a thermal lock on to opponents within the user's cone of sight; teams that bunch together and fire upon a common point can be forced to disperse this way, making them easier pickings for the rest of the user's teammates. Also, due to the fact that this is a thermal lock and not an optic lock, Charger twitch campers can be forced from their nests with absolute impunity.
  • DICE re-balances Star Wars Battlefront (2015) periodically through updates and patches. Most noticeably, Boba Fett saw a drastic decrease in usage and effectiveness after an update increased the rate at which his shots lost power over distance and removed the homing feature on his wrist rocket, which also now caused a smaller explosion.

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • Lash's units in Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising gain an additional 10% attack for each level of defense they receive, meaning a unit on a city or mountain had nigh-impenetrable defense AND inflicted 1.5X the damage. If you used her defensively, she was UNSTOPPABLE. This bonus was dropped to only 5% in the sequel, and she's still the best CO in the game.
  • Disgaea:
    • Every installment after Disgaea: Hour of Darkness seems committed to weakening the Gun as much as possible to the point that's it's becoming a Running Gag. The first two installments had the Gun relying on HIT to deal damage. While the weapon wasn't designed to deal out major damage, it was still marginally useful in Combos.
    • Disgaea 2 added a slight damage penalty compared to other weapons, as well as reducing it's attack range to a straight line. (Fair, given that only two classes properly specialized in the Gun and the best one had a trait that acted as an offset)
    • The Gun became a worse weapon once Disgaea 3 transformed it into a split-stat weapon, adding SPD to it's damage formula, and giving it some of the weakest skills in the game. (With one sole exception) While many of these skills became multi-target skills, the weakness the skills suffered from made them barely useful, even in Combos.
    • Disgaea 4 saw the Gun at it's weakest, having no skills stronger than 'C' Grade, and these skills were out-shined by pretty much any other weapon skill learned in the same time-frame. Come Post-Game, Guns were all but useless in any situation other than combo-starting.
    • Disgaea D2, whilst providing one skill above the Power Level of 'C,' (Which required a vast amount of in-game currency to retrieve) added a modifier based on how close the attacker was to the enemy. This means that Gun-toting characters, almost all of whom have low HP and DEF to balance their long-range and evasion prowess, had to be in direct danger to deal the most damage. This was devastating early on in the game, since counterattacks now applied to Special Skills as well as regular attacks. If your Gun-toter was fighting an enemy it was statistically on-par with it couldn't one-shot at close range, you better believe that character will be punished for it. This forces Gun-toting characters to fight at at least half of their strength if they aren't overpowered compared to their target (To be fair, the second-strongest Gun skill "Point-Blank Blaster" moved the Gunner out of harm's way.)
      • What brings all of these weaknesses home is the fact that Gun-Toters from Disgaea 3 and onwards tended to specialize in one required stat and be "meh" with the other. So adding to the Gun's inherent weakness is the chore of having to continuously customize and balance the character's HIT/SPD ratio, which further deteriorates the Gun's already horrid damage potential, which is little more than a handicap in a game that's about big numbers. (The only exception to the rule is Asagi in Disgaea D2. note 
    • Disgaea 5 seems to be reversing the trend as the new Pirate class deals more damage the further they are from their target when they use guns due to their evility and the nice addition of skill upgrading also increasing a skill's Grade (with SS+ being the highest).
    • Speaking of Disgaea, the Majin class. Starting out as an absolute Game-Breaker in Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, the Majin class (and in 4, its Expy the Android) saw cut after cut of it's stats per gamenote  to the point that it was out-shined by the starting classes in base stats. It got so bad that Disgaea D2 and Disgaea 5 omitted the class outright.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • In the Jugdral games, the Bard class were a better version of mages, with higher speed and defense. In the Elibe games they became a Spear Counterpart to Dancers, who were also nerfed by taking away their swordsnote  rendering them a non-combat class.
    • Mages are usually a combination of Fragile Speedster and Glass Cannon. The Tellius series downplayed both the Speedster and Cannon parts. This resulted in the massive lack of use of them and many Character Tiers having them very low.
    • The FE Nerf most fans remember is the Luna tome, a Dark Magic tome that negates the enemy's Magic Resistance. This is 'balanced' out by the weapon having 0 Might, so you're effectively doing fixed damage equal to your Magic stat. Except the spell also has an ungodly high critical rate (very rare for a magic tome), and the final two bosses have such massive Resistance stats that negating them makes a HUGE difference. Add the fact that Canas and Athos, the two characters who can use Dark Magic, are both Game Breakers, and you get, well, this. In Sacred Stones its critical rate was cut in half and its hit rate went from 90% to 50%, immediately taking it from game breaking to practically useless.
    • Another weapon nerf, Javalins went from 7 might in Shadow Dragon to 3 might in its sequel New Mystery. Their damage output is now comparable to actual Nerf Bats.
    • in Fire Emblem Awakening the weapons from prior games returning lost many stats and usefulness.
    • Awakening also nerfed the forging system from Shadow Dragon and New Mystery, where the amount you could buff a weapon was really only limited by how much money you had. Awakening imposed a hard limit of 8 'increments' per weapon (so you could buff Might 5 times and Critical 3 times, or Might 3 times and Critical 5 times, but not both 5 times) Of course, forged weapons used by enemies can and WILL break these rules.
    • The way parents pass on stats to children has also been nerfed from the Fire Emblem Jugdral games. Instead of Child's growths = same gendered parent's + 1/2 * opposite gendered parent's, their growths are now the average of their parent's growths and the child's "base growths", which means they may end up with worse stats than their parents in some areas. It also means that the difference in stats between pairings is nowhere near as dramatic as in the 4th game, so Shipping is more down to personal prefferance than gameplay benefits.
    • The famous Forseti tome from the Jugdral games granted its wielder +20 Speed and +10 Skill (+20 Skill in Thracia 776), instantly shooting whoever wielded it straight into their own "God" tier. In Awakening, you can fight two wielders of it, Lewyn and his son Ced, but in order to give you any chance at winning the fight Forseti lost that huge bonus and just gives +5 Speed instead. The other Crusader weapons were similarly nerfed.
    • The pair-up mechanics were also nerfed between Awakening and Fire Emblem Fates. Partially by the system being expanded so only offensives or defensive bonuses could be active at one time (as opposed to getting all or neither), and mainly because the enemy can now use them too.
    • With the abolition of Breakable Weapons in Fates, stranger weapons which previously used fragility as a balancing factor generally had additional drawbacks added. In addition to an accuracy drop, steel weapons now slow you down (in Fates, -2 speed is -2 speed, no ifs, buts, or maybes), silver weapons lower stats for a while after use, and mixed-range weapons weigh you down immensely.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics A2 nerfed several classes that were overpowered in the prequel by a variety of means:
    • MP starts out at 0 every fight, limiting the higher level spells such as summons. On the other hand, most abilities use up less MP now.
    • Standard Status Effects are much less powerful or much less likely to hit, prevent Mezzer classes from locking down enemies with ease (they are far from useless though).
    • Perhaps most importantly, Judges were nerfed. Only one law per battle, and breaking it only forfeits a few advantages, rewards and the ability to revive teammates during battle.
    • Thieves were toned down significantly. All it took in the first game was to inflict Stop on an opponent, and a Thief could steal every piece of equipment they hadnote  as well as their abilities, significantly weakening them. Now they can only steal loot and one accessory (you can still steal armor with a Viking though), and even then they can only steal up to 4 things from one person.
    • The stats themselves seemed to be nerfed as well. Offensive and Defensive stats could hit 400-500 points in Advance, but in A2, they don't go any higher than the 300 range. Damage is also nerfed, making a 999 damage hit impossible unless you use an ability of some sort.
    • The reaction ability Damage > MP from FFTA was broken where even if you had 1 MP left, all damage would be dealt to the MP and would not rollover to the HP. In the sequel (where the ability is now called MP Shield), the reaction ability uses MP to reduce damage and remaining damage transfers to the user's HP. Plus with the aforementioned "MP starts at 0" thing it doesn't effectively give you your entire Max MP in HP at the start of battle.
    • The Beastmaster class in FFTA could control a monster until the Beastmaster's turn came up again. Now a Beastmaster can only force a monster to attack immediately on that turn. This inadvertently nerfs the Blue Mage as well, since it is now much more difficult to teach him all the available moves.
  • Super Robot Wars usually does this in every single franchise. However, the most notable example is ''Second Original Generation where they make two important pilot skills (SP Regeneration and Attacker) skills be unavailable as a purchase for pilots. This means that SP is going to be limited to pilots and attacks are not going to be as powerful as what they should be. However, because of these nerfs, they are offset with new gameplay mechanics that do balance the game out like the ability slot system and the "Maximum Break" mechanic.
    • The "Invincible" Spirit Command in Jigoku-hen; unlike previous SRW games, damage is automatically reduced to one-eighth of total damage taken instead of the minimum ten units of damage. Jigoku-Hen also took Valor away from a LOT of characters. Yoko, Darry, Asuka (who used to get Soul), Four (she has Valor, Love, or both), Ozma, Lasse (he had it in UX), Canaria (she doesn't have it in the Z games but she does in UX and L), Emma, Quatre (he and Hilde are the only Wing characters without it), Kurz, Mao, Clousseau, Tieria, and Shakko.
    • Choryujin and Gekiryujin are permanently combined in Super Robot Wars BX, to prevent abuse of the combination system like in Super Robot Wars W
    • Some skills were nerfed from previous games in Super Robot Wars V:
      • "Attack Again"/"Second Attack" only triggers when the pilot who has the skill has 30 points more than the enemy's skill instead of the usual 20.
      • "Will Limit Break"/"Focus Over Limit" has 3 levels and pilots who have this skill by default only max out at 160 morale instead of 170 morale, thus requiring players to put one more level at the skill. Without it, ace bonuses or abilities that require characters or units who need 170 morale are stuck at 160 morale.note .
      • Unlike the Tag Tension Gauge where it requires only two stars to activate a skill, players need to gather three Extra Command Gauges to initiate movement again after killing an enemy. Even if equipping the "ExC Laser" partnote , at some point, players will run out of Extra Commands unless the pilot has the "Zeal"note  spirit command.
    • Just like in V, there are gameplay mechanics that were nerfed from the previous entries in Super Robot Wars X.
      • Wing Gundam Zero Custom's Rolling Buster Rifle is still post-movement, but only has a 1-2 range rather than its 2-5 range it had in the previous Z games.
      • Lelouch's "Tactical Command"note  is no longer post-movement and must be done on that turn. Getting his ace bonus however allows him to use it after movement.
      • Vilkiss' base evasion is no longer the highest in the game at 130 instead of compared to V at 140.
      • X has the lowest amount of characters having the "Zeal"note  spirit command, two of which are on sub pilots. The game does make up for it with the "Resolve" spirit command.
  • Galactic Civilizations 2: in vanilla, the Neutral alignment was very powerful because it could just skip the entire Terraforming tech tree and just use all of the squares on its planets from the get-go, leading to massively enhanced infrastructure from quite early in the game; having a really good research point generator, trade advantages, and a diplomacy bonus were just the icing on the cake. The Dark Avatar expansion modified it so that while the Terraforming upgrades would be applied without needing to wait for construction, you had to research the appropriate technologies first.
  • Valkyria Chronicles
    • In the first game, Scouts had maximum AP and were considered to be a lot more useful than the other classes, especially when given Orders. Valkyria Chronicles II reduced their AP by a lot to prevent them from becoming too broken.
    • Orders were sometimes broken due to how little CP some of them cost, making it easy to put several of them onto one character, who could then in some cases solo missions. Valkyria Chronicles II upped the amount of CP Orders cost in order to prevent this, with some of them now costing as much as 6 CP.
  • Wisps in Ancient Empires give nearby allied units a status effect that increases their attack. In the first game, this status (which lasts one turn) was refreshed every time something happened: whenever the Wisp made a move, and whenever any other unit made a move. In the second game, the status is only applied when the Wisp moves and/or attacks: units that move into the area of effect afterwards won't get the status.

    Western RPGs 
  • Baldur's Gate
    • Charm and Dominate spells (which allow you to control enemies) last as long as the original Dungeons & Dragons equivalents (ages in game time). Combined with an item that gave you infinite uses of Charm and an exploit that allowed you to use the item while invisible, a player could charm every enemy in the area, and use them to kill each other. Baldur's Gate 2 addressed this not just by removing the item and the exploit, but also by changing the charm and domination spells so that the choice of targets was highly limited, the spells became easier to resist, and the time they lasted was minuscule.
    • Summon wands in BG1 could spam massive hordes of weak monsters to help the player. Enough of those could either kill any major opponent, or distract them long enough for the player to kill them. BG2 not only removed summon wands from the game (there was one in the first dungeon, but by the later stages the creatures conjured by this were essentially useless cannon fodder), but also restricted the number of possible summoned monsters in game to five. Whether or not that was a good nerf is up to the individual player. Summoned monsters were further nerfed by the inclusion of two mid-level Wizard spells (Death Cloud and Death Spell) that automatically killed all hostile summoned creatures in their radiuses with no saving throws, regardless of the strength of the summoned creatures. Enemy wizards usually had this spell ready, though it didn't work on the most powerful summons you gained in Throne of Baal.
    • Skeleton Warriors in BG2 were silly powerful even if they were capped in number, especially against mages and Illithids because they were immune to magic, psionics, and intelligence drain. The Enhanced Edition removed these advantages, removing their main use except as generic summoned Cannon Fodder.
    • The HLA traps in Throne of Bhaal were accessible to both Thieves and Bards (who level up very fast) and could duplicate or outdo the effects of 9th level wizard spells. This meant that, with a little forethought, a Thief/Bard could dog-pile a single enemy with the equivalent of six rounds of being bombarded by the party wizard in one go. The Enhanced Edition nerfed this by capping the amount of active traps one could have out depending on one's Set Traps skill — a skill the Bard couldn't take.
  • Dragon Age II: In the first game, mages were majorly broken, and a mage Warden could be an unstoppable steamroller with the right skills. Most of those broken skills are eliminated in the sequel, which include a lack of access to Storm of the Century, which dealt enormous damage late in the game and no longer having the Arcane Warrior specialization, which had major attack and defense during the game. Some of the skills that were kept to the mage character have been nerfed too, which included Fireball and Cone of Cold having a much lesser area of effect.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • In Morrowind, the Robe of St. Roris initially had a constant effect Restore Health and Restore Fatigue enchantment, essentially making the wearer invincible to anything other than a full health One-Hit KO. Furthermore, it was found in a cave not far from the First Town where a sneaky or just very lucky player could obtain it very early in the game. Bethesda seems to have noticed, as they heavily nerfed it in a patch, making the enchantment "Cast When Used," and it could be cast 5 times before being drained.
    • Between Morrowind and Oblivion, many changes were made to rein in the insanity of abusable exploits.
      • The biggest one was the Alchemy skill; In Morrowind, it was possible to use intelligence-boosting potions to give your character godlike intelligence, and since intelligence affected your alchemy skill, each subsequent potion only got stronger. But since all skills are affected the same way by their base stats, this could get ridiculous quickly. The changes in Oblivion are obvious from the start; You can only have four potion effects active at a time, skill boosts past 100 (the set maximum,) have no effect, and stats don't affect skills nearly as directly as in Morrowind, the sole exception being Speed.
      • In Morrowind the Fortify Skill spell could be used to increase the caster's Restoration skill for a short period of time. Because the Fortify Skill spell was a Restoration type spell, using subsequently increasing magnitudes of the Fortify Restoration spell (up to 800) could allow for the exploitation of the Enchant (or any other) skill. A ring could be enchanted to allow the caster to jump across half of the map. Using a combination of a damage effect and Fortify Enchant, the maximum amount of damage over the maximum range could be dealt hundreds of times with one charge of a ring. This was rendered impossible in Oblivion because the stats were limited to 100 even with fortification effects.
    • From Oblivion: Due to a glitch in the original game, paint brushes aren't affected by physics, and thus don't fall, leaving them floating in midair wherever you place them. They also have surface area to them, albeit a very small surface area. It is entirely possible for a player with a sufficient supply of paintbrushes and good hand-eye coordination to create a stairway made of paintbrushes, or to create the perfect sniper's nest for archers and spellcasters. Needless to say, this was patched up with the first wave of downloadable content.
    • Standard magical spells got this treatment in Skyrim as a justification for the new Make Me Wanna Shout powers that you can unlock throughout the game. In practice this led to spellcasters having a very awkward growth where they would struggle with enemies as they scaled beyond the set damage of the spell(s) until they had enough to get to the next level (Apprentice -> Adept -> Expert -> Master). When the school (Alteration, Conjuration, Restoration, Destruction, Illusion) reached master level that was it; there was no way of making stronger spells and you had to face against stronger and stronger foes with spells that Can't Catch Up. Shouts themselves only had set effects too, with the stronger the effect having a longer cooldown period. This may have been done to make sure that the completely broken Magic system in Oblivion wouldn't be abused again but led to only weapons scaling instead and improving with Smiting, Enchanting, and Alchemy.
  • The Realms of Arkania series removed the Dwarves ability to use two handed weapons and the Druids ability to use bows in the second game (turning them into second rate Squishy Wizards instead of competent magic wielding rangers). Quite a disappointment if you were planning on importing your old characters.
  • Mass Effect
    • Biotic Abilities were often considered a Game-Breaker in Mass Effect, so when the sequel was released it came as a shock to majority of the players that the powers were extremely nerfed. While not useless, the powers could no longer work on enemies who have any form of protection. Fair enough, but on the two highest level of difficulties EVERY enemy is protected in some form and by time you strip them of their defenses a Why Don't You Just Shoot Him? mentality takes hold. However this mentality mainly applies to the control powers that could incapacitate large groups of enemies. Warp's ability to deal damage was upgraded, especially with detonations, and Throw can now be curved around or over cover, giving you more control of the enemies that are vulnerable to it.
    • Several game-breaking weapons from Mass Effect 2 got nerfed for Mass Effect 3. The Viper semiautomatic sniper rifle had its ammo capacity and rate of fire cut, the Locust and Hurricane both became very heavy and much less damaging, the Revenant became even less accurate and had its ammo cut, and the Mattock got a cap put on its rate of fire. The Geth Plasma Shotgun, Widow Anti-Material Rifle, and Claymore Heavy Shotgun were actually the only weapons from Mass Effect 2 that stayed at the same power level in Mass Effect 3.
    • The biotic power Reave was nerfed between Mass Effect 2 and 3. In 2, it inflicted damage over time and, if the target was alive, healed you while doing so. In 3, instead of healing it grants resistance to damage. Given that it was still quite powerful an ability in 3 and an utter Game-Breaker in 2, this was not really seen as a bad thing.
    • The multiplayer mode features balance changes whereby the developers nerf and buff weapons and powers on a weekly (now fortnightly) basis. The vast majority of changes have been buffs, but the few nerfs have been more controversial - in particular, the infiltrator's tactical cloak was shifted in a way that forced players to choose whether they wanted to use it to enhance their damage or go invisible, and the turian-designed Krysae sniper rifle was ruthlessly de-clawed when it was found to make certain types of enemy all but trivial.
  • Fallout
  • In Icewind Dale, the druid spell Static Charge which shock all opponents in the room every round. In the sequel, it only shock one random monster per round.
  • In Neverwinter Nights 2
    • Knockdowns have been nerf from the previous game. They no longer cause damage and now have a 2 rounds cooldown. On the upside, it no longer has a -4 penalty to hit.
    • In NWN1, Boots of Haste gave a permanent boost to your run/walk speed. In the sequel, it only works three times per day.
  • Eye of the Beholder:
    • The complete disappearance of the Stoneskin spell in EotB2, even with an imported party from EotB1, for whom it vanishes from spellbooks (and a Stoneskin scroll can't be saved either). See the Game Breaker entry for why.
    • The Turn Undead power also get modified between the two games. In EotB1 it is an automatic function, as long as the character is holding a holy symbol. Starting with EotB2, it becomes an action like any spell-casting, though not limited in use.

    Wide-Open Sandbox 
  • In Saints Row 2, the Boss can automatically dual-wield pistols and submachine guns, kill a non-boss enemy with only three or four shots, take a bunch of damage before dying, and consume health power-ups if he/she starts running low. In Saints Row: The Third, the health power-ups were eliminated, the initial damage output of guns was severely reduced, and dual-wielding was no longer automatic, all to encourage the player to use the new character and weapon improvement systems.
  • Minecraft had several nerfs over the course of the game during its beta stage and even beyond the 1.0 release:
    • Fires caused by lava or the flint and steel used to be able to spread very quickly if the fire were on a flammable object like trees and this was made easy for griefers. An update slowed down how fast fires spread.
    • Swords did quite a bit of damage but once the enchantment system was introduced, swords became slightly weaker to encourage players to enchant them.
    • Golden Apples used to restore 5 units of hunger and gave health regeneration for 30 seconds. The crafting ingredients changed in the 1.1 update to make it easier to craft the Golden Apple, but the effects got nerfed to making hunger recover only 2 points and regeneration last only 3 seconds. They have continued to be changed for balance, now both types cost nine times more gold.
    • Bone meal, which acted as fertilizer for trees and crops, was changed to require several uses before the plants fully grow instead of requiring just one bone meal.
    • Mobs that spawn in with tools/weapons and/or armor (when it was first introduced) was altered to have their dropped equipment be worn down so that players don't farm for free items with little effort.
  • Terraria introduced the Molotov Cocktail back in version 1.2.4: all you needed was some silk, a torch, and 10 mugs of ale—stuff you could craft right in the beginning of the game, with materials you could find anywhere in huge quantities—and you had a high-powered, area-of-effect explosive that (unlike the bombs and grenades) didn't hurt you in the slightest. With a handful of Molotov Cocktails, you easily could clear out a spider's nest or deal with the pre-Hardmode bosses with no problems whatsoever. Version added pink gel to the recipe—a drop from a rare monster spawn—and scaled the damage back from 40 to 23.
  • Grand Theft Auto:
    • In Grand Theft Auto III the M16 had a ridiculously high firing rate, approaching that of a minigun. It was decreased to a more realistic rate in the following games.
    • Money was also nerfed. GTA 3 had cash rewards from missions ridiculously high (the first mission, picking up someone and returning them home, paid $1000!) and you gained money from ramming other cars. This led to a huge dive into Money for Nothing since there was nothing to really spend money on other than weapons. Vice City reduced the monetary rewards to more reasonable levels and it reflected how people would pay you in the 1980s. San Andreas took it a step further by making some missions only reward you with respect points instead of money. By Grand Theft Auto V, money is barely rewarded at all and the only times you get paid are for the very few heists that you do in the story. Side jobs barely pay anything and while you could make money from the stock market, it's too complex to do casually. This becomes a plot element where the main characters keep doing jobs for shady people with the promises of them being paid for their work.
    • Grand Theft Auto V also heavily nerfs the Rhino tank. In the past, it was Nigh Invulnerable and the only way it could be destroyed was by flipping it over or shooting a lot of rockets at it. Here, the Rhino can be destroyed with a handful of rockets and running over cars is heavily advised against since explosions can damage the armor quite badly like a rocket.
  • Foxhole nerfed fists in version 0.2. Originally they were a One-Hit Kill to enemy soldiers since you'd have to risk getting shot to reach melee range to deal it; when bayonets were added the instant-kill was given to the bayonets to serve as a direct upgrade to fists, which now dealt half damage.

  • When Hearthstone makes changes to existing cards, it's almost always a nerf, and often its targets are extremely overpowered cards:
    • One of the earliest nerfs was to the Freeze Mage archetype back in beta. Freeze Mage was a deck that stalled the game out using mass freeze effects over and over (prevents minions from attacking for 1 turn) and killing the opponent with burn spells. In an era where healing and armor were scarce and minion combat was king, this was a serious Game-Breaker. It resulted in Cone of Cold, Frost Nova, Blizzard, and Frostbolt all going up by 1 mana. Frostbolt was quickly reverted, but the rest have stayed at that cost for the game's history.
    • The old Undertaker is a 1-Mana 1/2 which used to gain +1/+1 every time the player plays a Deathrattle minion. To abuse its effect to the fullest, Undertaker was often drafted into aggro decks filled with cheap Deathrattle minions to ramp up its stats to unstoppable levels. A turn-1 Undertaker usually meant instant victory due to how slow most cards that could remove Undertaker was at the time. Undertaker was eventually nerfed from gaining +1/+1 to just gaining +1 Attack, and Undertaker's viability in competitive decks was taken down several notches.
    • The Warrior card Warsong Commander used to have the effect "If you summon a minion with 3 or less Attack, give it Charge." At first, it used to be a decent card on an aggro deck, but its effect got completely out of hand with the Grim Patron, a 3/3 which summons another Grim Patron if it survives a hit. This led to insanely powerful combo decks that play the two cards plus several cheap minion-damaging cards like Whirlwind and Revenge to fill the player's side of the board with several Grim Patrons to hit the face with. If Frothing Berserker was also included, this combo would resulting the Berserker gaining a huge amount of Attack from the combo while also gaining Charge, resulting in the opponent getting hit in the face for 15+ damage from a single minion. All the player had to do was have these cards in hand and survive long enough to play Emperor Thaurissan to reduce the cards' Mana cost to be able to play them all in one turn. This combo became so dominant and overused that Blizzard had to deploy a patch just to nerf Warsong Commander, changing its effect into a completely underwhelming "Your Charge minions have +1 Attack" and completely destroy its viability.
    • As of the introduction of Formats, Blizzard began "soft nerfing" decks by rotating cards from the Classic set into the Hall of Fame, a set that can only be played in Wild Mode. Infamously powerful cards like Ragnaros, Divine Favor, Ice Block, and Ice Lance can be removed from Standard meta without having to nerf them into worthlessness.
  • In Poker Night 2, CL4P-TP suggests by name "nerfing" Max when he invites Sam & Max into the Borderlands franchise.
  • An in-universe example from King's Quest V 's strategy guide is the spell Ring of Fire. Its noted in the section talking about it that Ring of Fire seems weak in comparison to other flame based spells because its limited to a single target. This is actually an intentional design flaw because the type of fire the spell turns the caster into only affects living targets, leaving everything else untouched. The narrator shudders at the thought of any mage both powerful and insane enough to remove this limitation and turn the spell against, say, a village, or even a city.

Non-video game examples:


  • The Smart Missile in Jurassic Park (Data East), available only once per game, collected every lit shot, making getting the T-Rex Triball rather easy. Its sequel, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, makes it only work on Multiball-related shots. But in the later game you can get more then one of them. Also last action hero had the smart missile. You lose out on a lot points by just useing it to get Triball started.
  • Due to the advent of post-release patches, pinball can have update-related nerfs too. One example is AC/DC's "Thunderstruck" mode. (This song seems to get nerfed whenever it appears in a game, as seen with the Rock Band example above.) When the machine was first released, "Thunderstruck" allowed the player to start scoring jackpots by hitting any of the three Thunderstruck targets. An update a few months later restricted it to start scoring Jackpots only when the player hits the one with the flashing light. In general, though, balance patches are more likely to buff by decreasing difficulty and increasing scoring of certain things.

  • Fencing has an attack called a flick. A flick takes advantage of the flexibility of a fencing sword (a safety consideration) to whip the blade around and hit with the tip. The tip of two of the weapons (foils and epees) are actually spring-mounted buttons that complete a circuit when pressed, allowing an electronic scoring machine to register the hit. No real smallsword or rapier would bend like that, so a flick is a very strange attack. Flicks became so dominant in high level tournaments that the governing body, the FIE, actually changed the length of time the button must be depressed just to make flicks a less viable (but not useless) attack.
  • Baseball:
    • Major League Baseball did this to pitching after the 1968 season, which was dubbed The Year of the Pitcher due to some of the most ungodly numbers ever put up by pitchers (to the point that those numbers will most certainly never be touched again). The mound was lowered five inches and balance towards the hitters was restored. Some of the video-game-like numbers put up in 1968:
      • Bob Gibson setting a modern-era ERA record of 1.18 (in 300 innings!)
      • Denny McLain becoming the first pitcher since Dizzy Dean in 1934 to reach 30 wins (and due to the current structure of the game with five-man rotations and a heavier reliance on relief pitchers going along with the mound nerfing, suffice to say McLain will be the last pitcher to ever hit that mark)
      • Luis Tiant led the AL with a 1.61 ERA and set a record batting-average-against, with hitters hitting an anemic .168 against him.
      • There were 339 shutouts in baseball that year; 30 of them came from the Gibson-led St. Louis Cardinals, which also set a 162-game season record of fewest runs allowed (472) that will never be eclipsed.
      • The AL hit a collective .231, the lowest in MLB history, and its .340 slugging percentage was the worst since the dead-ball era.
      • The Chicago White Sox set 162-game single-season records in fewest runs scored and times being shut out, both of which still stand.
    • Before 1968, baseball underwent two other major nerfs:
      • In the late 1890s, shortly before the American League was founded, a batter's first two foul balls were made strikes. Before that fouls didn't count against the batter, and a good one could tire out a pitcher by fouling marginal pitches until he got a hittable one (just as still happens when there's two strikes). That was even easier since they changed balls less frequently, and the balls were of lower quality than today's so they sometimes weren't even perfectly spherical anymore late in a game.
      • The infield fly rule, before which infielders could get cheap double plays in such situations with runners on first and second. With it, there's no force outs and you actually have to make the play.
    • Former New York Giants'note  player, later a manager, Eddie Stanky caused an early 1950s nerf almost all by himself. Whenever he was on third with less than two outs, he would stand behind the base, up the foul line, rather than taking the slight lead as is usually done. Through practice he had learned to time fly balls passing overhead and start his run toward home so that he touched the bag as soon as the fly was caught and could thus start running toward home at full speed, rather than have to get up to it after tagging up. As a result he scored almost every time he was in this situation, especially when flies were hit to right. Outfielders and opposing teams complained vigorously, and it has been illegal ever since.
  • The West Indies Cricket team complained that the "One bouncer per over" rule was designed to nerf their bowlers when it was introduced.
  • When the javelin throw reached a dangerous record (104.8 meters, 114 yards), the record was lowered and spears were redesigned to prevent potential danger to audiences (current record is 98m, or 108 yds).
  • The NFL does this every year, implementing new rules to keep the defense from bumping wide receivers, hitting WRs in the head, hitting the quarterback, etc.
    • To see this taken to a ridiculous level, look at the Pro Bowl regulations, which include no blitzing.
    • The NFL's greatest nerf (ahem) of all time was 1978, opening up the passing game by:
      • Limiting bump-and-run pass coverage to a single bump within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage before the ball was thrown. (Which has been "emphasized" in 1994, 2004, and 2014, leading to a massive increase in defensive penalties and offensive production.) This is known as the "Mel Blount Rule", named after the famed Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback.
      • Stiffening the penalty for defensive pass interference from 15 yards to automatic first down at the spot of the infraction.
      • Allowing offensive linemen to extend their hands and use open palms to block on pass plays (essentially legalizing holding in those situations).
      • Adding the "in-the-grasp" rule to protect quarterbacks (the only one of these rule changes later repealed).
      • Changing the penalty for intentional grounding from 15 yards to 10 (later nerfed even further by making it only apply when the quarterback was between where the tackles had originally lined up, aka "the tackle box").
  • What the rest of the world calls football (soccer to North Americans, Australians and the Japanese):
    • It was nerfed sometime in the past when the rules specified that every throw-in had to be made using two hands overhead, stepping forward as you did. This was in response to some English player who honed the skill of making long one-armed throws downfield distances that would be competitive with an NFL long bomb. It sort of took the "foot" out of "football."
    • Another ancient nerf happened when a certain goalkeeper started handling the ball, as was legal back then, all the way to the halfway line. This was adjusted with the limiting of a goalkeeper's ability to handle to the 18-yard box.
    • The 1990 World Cup, after complaints of being boring, led to the backpass rule, which prohibited players passing back to their goalkeeper and having them pick it up.
  • NASCAR originated with cars modified by their owners almost any way they liked: The first use of carbon fiber in a car was by Junior Johnson who happened to know someone working with it in the aerospace industry. As time went on restrictions were made limiting engine and aerodynamic technology, most infamously with Ford's 427 Cammer and Plymouth Superbird. Thanks to restrictions, today's cars are nearly identical and fuel injection won't be adapted until the 2014 season.
  • Depending on who you ask, men's field lacrosse has either been nerfed or buffed by the addition of time limits and other rules designed to discourage stalling and deliberately slow offense. Back in the 1980s a team that took possession of the ball after a saved shot or turnover could take as long as it wanted to get the ball upfield, and if/once it did, could just pass it around all it wanted. Nowadays, it has 20 seconds to get the ball across the midfield line, and then another 10 to get into the opposing team's boxnote , otherwise it's a technical foul and they lose possession. The college game adds a 30-second shot clock to the mix. Teams that are leading by less than four goals in the last four minutes of play must also keep it in the opposing team's box once they get it there, and aren't really supposed to just pass it around and kill time, or they can be called for stalling.

    This tends to reflect the increasing use of turf surfaces, indoor venues and the game's spread to warmer regions. In the 1980s, when most games were played on grass, which often becomes a muddy quagmire in the early spring in the more temperate regions where lacrosse has been played for the longest, it made sense to encourage a more physical game as the surface was less friendly to speedsters (and hits against defenseless players were also allowed at the time). But turf doesn't have those problems, so a speedier game becomes more preferable on turf.
    • A definite nerfing of lacrosse happened when the rules regarding penalties were changed so that only a goal by the man-up team can release the penalized player (where the penalty is releasable). Formerly it was also possible to secure a player's release by getting the ball into the opposing team's box. As a result, in blowout games where there was a large skill differential between the two teams, players on the better team were often serving very little time for whatever fouls they had committed.
    • This also might be more of a buff. In the 1980s it was also possible as well to secure possession in the other team's box at the beginning of the second and fourth quarters—instead of having a faceoff—by getting the ball into the other team's box at the end of the preceding quarter. Today, if a team has possession of the ball at the end of the first or third quarter they simply get it when play resumes wherever they were on the field when the previous quarter expirednote .
    • Some college teams also used to have their defensemen stand on either side of the goalie when the opposing team was attacking the goal in order to make it much harder to score. This is now illegal; in fact starting in 2017 the high school rules require the referee to immediately stop play if he sees anyone other than the goalie in the crease, acting as the goalkeeper, and assess a 30-second penalty against the offender.note 
    • In the middle of all this there has been one definite minor buff: the goalie is now allowed four seconds in the crease with the ball as opposed to three.
    • Another definite nerf: the limit to the amount of long sticks allowed on the field. In the '80s, teams with sufficient depth began adding midfield lines with three long sticks in addition to those used by the defensemen. Some college teams, like Syracuse, put nine long sticks on the fieldnote  during opposing clears. This was seen as stifling to offensive lacrosse, and teams were soon limited to four long sticks on the field at any time.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Perhaps the oldest known example, in the board game Xiangqi, there are records suggesting that at some point in history, the General (the most important piece) could move anywhere in any direction. In the modern game, the General can only move orthogonally, and is restricted to a fairly small area. One imagines that since defeating your opponent's General wins the match, trying to hunt down a highly evasive target made for very annoying and drawn-out endgames.
  • For Exalted, the Twilight caste's overpowered anima banner effect was nerfed in errata (and then totally rewritten into something more appropriate for the caste). The endless string of absurdly broken Charms in "Dreams of the First Age" wasn't so much nerfed as deleted entirely and replaced by a set that was actually balanced. Later, the combat system was rewritten to nerf perfect spam and lethality in one shot, so people can actually be hurt in Exalted without dying instantly and armour is actually useful.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • In 3.5 Edition a primary source of argument is the haste spell, which was changed from being extremely useful to everyone to being mostly worthless to anyone who does not engage in conventional (melee or ranged weapon) combat — meaning most spellcasters have no reason ever to cast it on themselves. Of course, in this particular case, 3rd Edition was the only edition where haste was useful to spell casters in the first place. However, since it affected your caster-level worth of allies within a 30 feet radius, it made for a semi-decent group buff (albeit not nearly as good as it used to be) for the combat characters. Eventually, it was somewhat revived in the form of "Celerity" and its variants.
    • Wizards of the Coast also seems very, very afraid of polymorphing effects. They've reworked the rules so many times that trying to keep track of them is an impossible task. Some of the changes were arguably good, such as changing the spells from Polymorph Self and Polymorph Other, the latter of which could be abused, to Polymorph and Baleful Polymorph. Other changes were to cover up such "abuses" as the possibility of parrots being able to pronounce command words for wands that the character could use in normal form. Despite all this, polymorph and similar effects (such as wildshape) are still really good.
    • Shapechange was, bar none, the most powerful nonepic spell in existence and vastly powerful even on an epic scale. The overpowered nature of that spell is, in part, what led to the massive nerf on polymorphing.
    • With the changeover to 4th Edition Wizards of the Coast definitively Nerfed Wizards and Druids from what they were before, where at certain levels, every other character was second fiddle to whatever scroll a Wizard had. Druids were healers, and Fighters, and Sneaky. The new versions in 4th edition are much lower in power and have a different gameplay purpose.
    • 5th Edition saw much new nerfing, primarily to spells with a duration longer than instantaneous. In 3rd and earlier editions, most spells had a duration based on caster level, sometimes as great as one hour per caster level. This mean that a high-level spellcaster could cast a whole load of buff spells on themselves in the morning and have them last all day. The big changes in 5th Edition were to make most spells have a duration of about a minute (plenty of time for a fight) and to also make them Concentration based. A spellcaster can act normally (still cast spells and take other actions) while concentrating, but they may only concentrate on one spell at a time, so if you're using Slow on some enemies and you find you suddenly need to protect yourself with a Globe of Invulnerability spell, your Slow ends.
      • The errata for the 5th Edition's spell Healing Spirit changed the spell from being able to heal the entire party in a minute, to a slightly more powerful Cure Wounds.
  • Paizo's Pathfinder, an update of D&D 3.5E, nerfed a great many things spammed by 3.5 players, including metamagic feats (especially Quickened Spell) and the ubiquitous spiked chain. They also nerfed some options indirectly, by improving everything, but improving some things less. For example, all Pathfinder base classes and monsters got upgrades compared to 3.5, but spell-casters generally got less new crunchy bits, effectively nerfing the casters by not buffing them as much. Likewise, letting players choose any base class as their character's favored class and giving them a bonus for sticking to it, then giving each base class a powerful bonus at max level made base classes more attractive. The effect was a nerf to Prestige Classes. Players are not always thinking of their first five levels as "filling in the checklist for my Prestige Class." Finally, eliminating Empty Levels, the high level bonus, and the favored class bonus nerfed 3.5's ubiquitous "dipping" into classes. How successful these changes are is entirely up to each gaming group, but it's generally agreed that casters still surpass everything by a hefty margin past a certain point.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • Many cards in the Trading Card Game suffer through this every once in a while. Usually it comes in two flavors: either the card itself or the rulings for its use are changed to make it more situational and less powerful. It's become even more of a problem post-Invasion of Chaos, as Konami attempts to prevent another Envoy incident.
    • Many cards are nerfed in the transition from anime to real life cards. One of the most infamous examples is Card of Sanctity. In the anime, it allowed a player to draw until they had 6 cards in their hand (the legal hand size limit). To put that in perspective, Konami banned a card that allowed a player to draw 2 cards while this one would have allowed a player to draw up to six. Instead of just not releasing it, Konami made it so that you have to remove everything you controlled (hand and field) from play, and only draw 2.
    • Most cards were just banned instead of nerfed though. The only time cards are genuinely nerfed is when the cards are mistranslated, like with "Bazoo the Soul-Eater", "Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer", and "Skull Lair". Their very powerful effects were very easy to activate, kinda similar to the two Chaos envoys though not as powerful. However, the envoys were banned whereas these two cards were changed. Ironically, many people did not use "Skull Lair" despite it being broken since it was only a common card.
    • The Effect Monster versions of Egyptian God Cards, especially The Winged Dragon of Ra, the most powerful of three Egyptian Gods. In the manga and anime, special summoning Ra was totally abused. In real life, this card cannot be special summoned, making it the hardest Egyptian God Card to play. Also, its effect is also nerfed in a bigger way than Slifer and Obelisk's. Ra's Phoenix does not destroy all monsters, but only one. And it's impossible to use the Point-to-Point-Transfer effect after using the Phoenix Mode.
    • Starting in late 2014, Konami has begun to nerf long time banned cards so that they can be brought back. Such cards currently include Ring of Destructionnote , Crush Card Virusnote , Exchange of the Spiritnote , Temple of the Kingsnote , Sinister Serpentnote , Chaos Emperor Dragon - Envoy of the Endnote , and Dark Magician of Chaosnote .
  • Magic: The Gathering goes through this from time to time, with Wizards of the Coast banning or limiting cards that prove unbalancingly powerful.
    • In times past, Wizards would sometimes nerf overpowered cards by issuing errata. Most of them have since been changed back. The current policy is to make all cards function as originally designed (though they'll still issue errata to fix genuine errors, or to bring cards in line with new rules). There are a few different "formats" distinguished by which cards are banned, allowing players to choose what level of nerfage they want to deal with.
    • Occasionally, a de-nerfed card will immediately be banned thanks to their newfound power level. One short-lived tournament environment featured a newly-de-nerfed card that allowed very quick wins. With the right four cards in one's opening hand, the card could be used to win the game at the beginning of the first turn of the game - even if that turn was the opponent's.
    • Magic, because of its rotating set formats, can nerf a card simply by replacing it with a new one. If Lightning Bolt is too powerful, wait for it to rotate out of the main format and then print Shock, which is the same cost for one less damage. Ditto Counterspell, which was replaced with Cancel - the same thing, but with a mana added to the cost. Lightning Bolt and Counterspell still see vintage and casual formats, but since a lot of things are in Vintage, they fit in the end.
    • It is more common for a strategy to be nerfed, rather than an individual card. This is often accomplished by releasing a card which is devastatingly effective against the currently dominant deck type, but of limited usefulness against other decks.
    • Very rarely, an outright rules change can nerf a strategy. Case in point, there are certain cards categorized as "Legendary", which are intended to be unique characters (or items, or locations), so logically, only one can exist at any given time. Originally, there was a "Legendary rule" along the lines of "If one legendary card is in play, and another legendary card with the same name comes into play, they both get taken off the field." With this rule, a player could get rid of a troublesome legendary card merely by playing a copy of it themselves—some players put troublesome legendary cards in their decks just to deal with other people playing the same card, even if it was otherwise useless in their own deck, and Clone was occasionally packed by players reading it as "destroy target Legendary creature". The rule was later changed to only apply to cards on one side of the battlefield. In other words, a player can't have two copies of a legendary card in play at the same time, but two players can each have a copy simultaneously.
  • This also happens sometimes with Legend of the Five Rings via similar methods to M:TG.
  • Warhammer:
    • Back in 7th edition, Dark Elf Sorceresses were some of the best mages in the game due to their access to the Power of Darkness spell, which was easy to cast and granted bonus power dice. The spell has not been changed, but the 8th edition of the rules put a cap on how many power dice you can get each turn, making it much less useful.
    • Similarly, the entire army Daemons of Chaos was considered so broken that some tournaments banned it, and many players refused to play against it. Almost everything caused Fear/Terror, everything had some kind of Ward save, and the magic was atrociously undercosted for what it did; in short, you'd find your troops fleeing, dead, or otherwise incapacitated in short order without much chance to strike back. With the advent of 8th Edition, psychology has a much less damaging effect and magic has been capped in many ways. There's a reason 8th Edition has been called 'The Daemon Nerf' by some.
  • IronKingdoms:
    • Going from MK I to MK II the game over went a massive overhaul. Removing most of the extremely glaring balance issues.
    • The designers have confirmed that MK III is going to nerf more mechanics and rules. Namely those that are frustrating or not fun to play against.
      • Most Heavy Infantry units are having their durability lowered in response to how they've dominated the meta.
      • "Fury Management" is being reduced among the Hordes faction, since its too easy to keep warbeasts from going out of control despite generating massive amounts of Fury.
      • The Tough rule is being changed so that it goes inactive once a model is knocked down. This is to prevent a single model from being able to soak hits and avoid dying just because a player keeps rolling 5s or 6s.
  • BattleTech:
    • Earlier editions had a piece of equipment known as the Targeting Computer. This equipment not only made it easier to hit opponents, but also allowed for called shots, otherwise impossible in the normal course of play. Called shots usually took their shot at a penalty, but pulse lasers possessed a hit bonus largely negated the penalty when used for called shots. It has since removed this ability from weapons with hit bonuses to avoid Game-Breaker status.
    • Another piece of equipment that nearly broke the game was the Null Signature system, which in its Maximum Tech incarnation forced opponents to take a +6 penalty to the target number (on a roll of 2d6!) at long range, and even at medium range was still a +3 penalty. This was quickly nerfed in later releases to just +2 at long range and +1 at medium range in the interests of not utterly destroying the range equations.
  • A couple of cards in Munchkin required a Nerf (though, really, what else would you expect in a game about that kind of player):
    • The Kneepads Of Allure got nerfed. Originally, they could compel anyone to help you in a fight. Now, they cannot be used to win the game, and the target cannot be lower-level than you.
    • Loaded Dice originally allowed the player to ignore the result of any one roll and call any number they want. The Exact Words meant that soon enough people were calling numbers like 10 million or negative 30 thousand, which ended up breaking the game in really weird ways; newer versions changed it to allow the player to physically reorient the die the way they want.
  • The Pokémon Trading Card Game nerfs cards by releasing a less powerful substitute after the Game-Breaker has been rotated out. One example is Energy Removal, which allows the player to discard any Energy card attached to an opponent's Pokémon. Its replacement was Crushing Hammer, which has the same effect but requires a coin flip of heads for it to work.
    • There is a case of a card being nerfed directly. Pokémon Catcher let the player switch their opponent's Active Pokémon with one of their Benched Pokémon, which became a problem when combined with Junk Arm, which lets the player take a card from their discard pile, effectively letting Pokémon Catcher be used eight times. When Pokémon Catcher was re-released, it was changed to require a coin flip to work.
  • In X-Wing Miniatures, Fantasy Flight regularly releases an "FAQ" that clarifies or changes particularly nasty cards and combinations. March 2017, for example, saw changes to Emperor Palpatine (you now declare you're using him before you roll, stopping you from pulling him out as an emergency save), the TIE/x7 title for TIE Defenders (it's now an Evade action, rather than a free Evade token, meaning it can now be stopped by stress and obstacles), the Jumpmaster pilot Manaroo (her ability to give benefits to other ships now has a fairly harsh range limitation, stopping her from spending the entire battle on the other side of the map generating buffs), and the Zuckuss crew card (which can take stress to penalise enemy defence rolls - but now can't do it if already stressed). It also confirmed that Kylo Ren's crew card (could dictate a specific Pilot critical effect that would hit an enemy ship and bypass shields next time they took critical damage) didn't interact with Darth Vader's (whose ability to Cast from Hit Points to inflict a point of critical damage applies after attacks, and Kylo's condition only applies during attacks).
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Alternative Title(s): Nerfing


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