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Power Creep

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Same attack power, same casting cost, but Ice Rager has more health. Not to mention, it's a lot cooler.

When DnD 5e was just the core rules, College of Valor allowed the bard to toe the line between sorcerer-like spellcasting and fighter-like martial capabilities. However, newer, similar options like [lists several] have all left College of Valor far behind them in effectiveness. It remains a simple, approachable bard option that’s both effective and appealing for newer players, but it’s not going to impress you mechanically.
RPGBot guide to the Bard class in Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition

Power creep is the process in multi-player games (Collectible Card Games, Tabletop Games, Video Games, etc.) in which newly-added content (such as character abilities or equipment) can be played alongside old content, but the new content is far more powerful/useful. This process makes old content no longer worth using, save for a few exceptions and for Cherry Tapping.

This makes sense, at least from a financial point of view. You want people to buy and use your new additions, but why would they do that if they can keep on using the awesome Infinity +1 Sword they already have? In order to spur sales, you 'need' to have your Expansion Pack introduce an Infinity +2 Sword which is overall better. And then an Infinity +3 Sword the next time around and so on. The level of power present in the game just keeps creeping upwards— Power Creep.

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

Power Creep virtually always leads to a Broken Base, with the most "conservative" players stating that the new unbalanced content is an insult to the original game. On the other hand, there will be players who like these new add-ons, saying that it actually makes the game more fun to play, or enjoy a particular playstyle that was poor in the original game but is now more viable with power-crept material. Additionally, Power Creep can be a boon to Tournament Play: Long, drawn-out games are harder to schedule since it's less easy to predict when everyone will finish on time, so with Power Creep making games faster, tournaments become less time-consuming and easier to plan. (This is not an idle concern; the makers of Magic: The Gathering are on record as having to reject card designs because they would bring the match to a halt for five or ten minutes.)

As a general rule, though, Power Creep has a negative connotation. The reason is that, with a few exceptions, it shows that the producers were unable to come up with something creative, and instead reused their old material with bigger numbers. Power Creep also tends to lead a game beyond its planned "gameplay style", with one of two results: it will become a competition of Rocket-Tag Gameplay and mindless speed, or of Padded Sumo Gameplay and predictable slow strategies.

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

This trope is the Gameplay Mechanics counterpart to So Last Season, Overshadowed by Awesome, Sequel Escalation and Serial Escalation, which refer to narrative or thematic elements. It is the opposite of Promotional Powerless Piece of Garbage, which is new content that is considered much worse than the existing stuff.

Compare with Revenue-Enhancing Devices. Not to be confused with Power Creep, Power Seep, which is about characters becoming more or less powerful in a crossover work.


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    Tabletop Games (Non-Card) 
  • BattleTech is a prime example due to the setting's moving timeline. The series originally started with a baseline of weaponry and equipment utilized by the Inner Sphere during 3025. As the years advance, lighter and more effective technology from the fallen Star League is gradually (re-)introduced, tremendously shifting the Metagame in favor of them. There was a stretch of years when almost every new BattleMech featured at least one of the following: CASE, Double Heat Sinks, ER PPC's, Extralight Engines, and Gauss Rifles. Everything is completely turned on its side after an invasion by the Clans, who possess a slew of super advance technology and battlefield tactics never seen before. The Jihad introduces even more changes to the status quo: superheavy 'Mechs, DropShips that can destroy WarShips, cybernetic MechWarriors, and various Doomsday Device weaponry (up to and including a planet killer mass driver). The ongoing Dark Ages has brought even more changes with advanced armor, weapons, and support systems. The one factor that keeps things relatively balanced is Battle Value. Each unit in the game receives a Battle Value score based on its armor, weaponry, speed, and other equipment it posesses. A mech that's tricked out with highly advanced weaponry, double heatsinks, and other tech will have a much higher Battle Value than one that sticks with only the original stuff available in 3025, allowing the less advanced mech to make up the difference by either having a superior pilot or possibly bring in a second mech. In this way, old machines manage to stay relevant in games.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • 3rd Edition:
      • In terms of overall design, it both played this straight and inverted it, in that its initial material is seen as containing the strongest and weakest classes in the game. This was because the designers hadn't really figured out how to balance the new system yet, and so some classes ended up hilariously broken because of abusable mechanics, and others were utterly underpowered because the designers overestimated how good their abilities were. Most classes released later in the game's lifespan ended up in the middle of the pack - for instance, the warmage and warlock are a lot weaker than the wizard but fill a similar role, while the duskblade and psychic warrior are a lot stronger than the fighter. A party of a binder, a dread necromancer, and a warblade would follow about the same party roles as the classic cleric-wizard-fighter trio, but be a lot closer in power.
      • It's played completely straight with spells and feats, though, as a lot of sourcebooks would release new ones that broke one or more limitations. Compare Polar Ray (Evocation, 8th-level, single target, does 1d6 cold damage per level, offers Spell Resistance) to Orb of Frost (Conjuration, 4th-level, single target, does 1d6 cold damage per level and target must save or be blinded for a turn, doesn't offer Spell Resistance). This is a major reason for why casters are seen as broken, since it's easier for them to grab all the nasty tricks they can do in sourcebooks.
      • Early on in the game, many casting-based prestige classes had a stunted progression, either not advancing spells or only advancing them every other level. Since very few things to a caster are worth losing their spells, most of the later ones provided either full advancement and incidental features, or full advancement barring one or two levels in exchange for really good features.
      • An odd microcosm of the gradual "this isn't actually broken" realization can be seen with Breath Weapons. Initially, it was restricted for player use to either half-dragons or the dragon disciple Prestige Class, maxed out at 6d8 damage, and could only be used once per day. Later on, there was the dragon shaman, which obtained a Breath Weapon at 4th level that did a maximum of 10d6 damage, but had a recharge time of 1d4 rounds. By the end of the game's lifespan, there was the dragonfire adept, whose standard attack is a Breath Weapon that does a maximum of 9d6 damage, comes online at 1st level, and can be used every turn, and most of their abilities focus on ramping it up even further. Coincidentally, it's considered the only one of the above to be worth the effort.
      • Another infamous one is the hexblade and duskblade - one which came out early on, the other a few years afterward. Both were designed to fill the Magic Knight role, but the designers were apparently very tentative about a character who could do magic and fight in melee - the result being the hexblade, a class that kinda sucked at both. When one compares the two classes, the duskblade comes out ahead in almost every way - better armor and saves, spells are gained earlier, stay at full caster level, and can be used more often, spell list includes 5th-level spells while the hexblade is stuck with 4th, and instead of the unimpressive Hexblade's Curse, they have the highly-damaging Arcane Channeling.
      • This is a major reason for why Tome of Battle martial adepts tend to be controversial, as the crusader, swordsage, and warblade are generally seen as better in every way compared to the paladin, monk, and fighter, respectively. Even outside of their stronger chassis and abilities, they boast access to the maneuver and stance system, which grants them a host of versatile and powerful combat tricks that the earlier classes couldn't dream of. The thing is, the paladin, monk, and fighter were generally regarded as the worst of the core classes, so many players just saw it as a way to play out those archetypes without being useless. This creates arguments as to whether the core classes were truly beyond saving such that they needed to be effectively replaced, and whether the martial adepts are refreshingly balanced, overpowered, or even underpowered.
    • Even 5th Edition, which has received a lot more effort toward being balanced, has suffered a bit from this. The biggest example comes from Tasha's Cauldron of Everything, which introduces two new sorcerer subclasses, the Aberrant Mind and the Clockwork Soul. Both of them fix the biggest complaint about the sorcerer class, its lack of spells known, by granting ten bonus spells each. As none of the previously published sorcerer subclasses were updates with such a boosy, the new ones represent a significant increase in power level.
      • Tasha's also introduced Peace and Twilight domains for cleric, both considered the most powerful subclasses of an already strong class. Peace domain has Emboldening Bond, which is basically a Bless spell that doesn't require concentration and lasts longer and at later levels can allow allies to teleport and take damage intended for someone else. Meanwhile the Twilight cleric has very strong domain spells taken from other classes, flight as a bonus action (in darkness or dim light) and a Channel Divinity that's essentially an endless stream of temporary hit points.
      • Some later sourcebooks and modules, such as Shadow of the Dragon Queen and Spelljammer: Adventures in Space, introduced character backgrounds that give you an extra feat, which are almost always stronger than the "background features" of normal backgrounds. The crux of the issue is that feats are pretty much guaranteed to be useful, whereas most background features are situational. For example, Acolyte characters from the base game enjoy free lodging and healing at temples of their faith, but are SOL if no such temples are around. Meanwhile, Wildspacers from Spelljammer receive the Tough feat (two extra hit points per level), which helps no matter where you go.
      • The Heroic Chronicle system from Explorer's Guide to Wildemount likewise allows your character to get extra skills, items and/or feats before the campaign even starts. Some people speculate that this is a secret playtest for changes to character creation in the next edition of D&D.
  • Pathfinder suffers from this trope in at least two ways: one specific and the other generalized. The latter is thanks to Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards. Newer material for melee classes does not match the Game-Breaker combinations spell casting classes are capable of, which is often summed up by jaded pro-melee members of the community as, "fighters can't have nice things." The argument is that each new book leaves melee classes farther behind the already impressive spellcaster power curve. This is especially noticeable with certain official Paizo adventures, as the "final boss" to a high level campaign is either a full caster or has inherent abilities that negate spells to keep up with the Metagame. A more direct example is the Pathfinder Unchained rule book, that offers revisions to making melee classes vastly more powerful than their vanilla original versions (via the addition of Combat Feats), to help mitigate the perceived Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards problem.
  • The Palladium RPG Rifts was notorious for having each sourcebooks introduce more powerful playable classes than the last. (In truth, it was not a steady climb, but more a zigzag.) In the original book, Cyber-Knights (cyborgs with psychic blades) were respectable combatants. By the time we get to the Phase World supplement, the setting has gone from Post-Post-Apocalyptic North America to Intergalactic Space Opera, and we get Cosmo-Knights, who can fly through space at translight speed and destory starship with energy blasts. When the Cyber-Knights were reintroduced in their own self-titled book, they got bumped to nearly Jedi-like levels, able to tell whenever a weapon is activated against them, and able to make said technological weapons subtly go off-target.
  • Warhammer had this happen to Bretonnia due to not getting update after 6th edition. The faction's entire theme was supposed to be "Excellent cavalry, decent archers, bad at everything else", except that as the 7th and 8th editions went on, Bretonnia found itself outclassed in its own niche: The Empire had roughly equivalent cavalry and archers, but also had a more complete and varied roster that gave them great flexibility, while the Wood Elves had better cavalry and archers than what Bretonnia could field.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • This is usually a problem with any codex that hasn't seen an update in a long time. The Dark Eldar and Necron codexes were infamous for this for a long time, as they were the oldest codexes not to be updated (the Dark Eldar had, at one point, gone 10 years without an update) and the Bretonnia book suffered from this as well (their old perk was being able to field a full-cavalry army with a special regiment formation, but they changed to a unique regiment formation that, due to the new rules, doesn't actually do much for them and can actually be a handicap).
    • A curious case of this happened with the Dark Angels and Black Templar 4th edition codexes. The Dark Angels, at the time, was part of a new wave of Space Marines; the cost of transports were reduced and they were given the Combat Squad rules as well as Characters who could change the force organization. This later all became moot when the standard Space Marine Codex got most of these (except for the all-Terminator army) and became completely moot when the Space Wolves gained Logan Grimnar (who could make all-Terminator armies). Black Templars, meanwhile, became the only Space Marine Codex to not have access to any of these perks during the duration of 5th edition. When 6th Edition hit, their codex instead got dropped and merged into the standard Space Marine codex.
    • The scope of the game also has drastically changed. In 2nd Edition, an Eldar Guardian is suppose to be considered heavily armored and Fast, as they possessed a 5+ armor while still being able to run. In 3rd edition, the swarm-unit Termagants cost 8 points and needed upgrades, but was still classed as a swarm creature. In the current meta, a model costing 8-10 points had to have either a fantastic gun, decent armor, high toughness, or some combination thereof. The Termagant, meanwhile, was reduced to half the points without reduction in any of its combat abilities, but despite that it's now considered one of the least competitive units unless paired with its support unit the Tervigon. Similarly, Eldar Guardians are considered to have paper-thin armor, and their running ability has become near-universal (Eldar just run faster).
    • The advent of D-Weapons, Superheavy vehicles and Gargantuan Creatures. All of these introduced new rules on top of existing rules, because they were suppose to be so powerful that the current statistic system couldn't accurately represent them without exceptions. D-Weapons in particular, as they were supposed to surpass the Strength value which only goes up to 10. In 7th edition, they were all incorporated into the base rulebook, whereas previously they were exclusive to the Apocalypse supplement.
    • In prior editions Imperial Knights and Adeptus Custodes were only available as rare supplements to other Imperial forces, in 8th edition they became their own factions.

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

    Trading Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering has an interesting situation where individual aspects of the game go through power creep all the time while the game as a whole remains mostly balanced.
    • The biggest factor is that Magic has over 20,000 unique cards and has been continuously released since 1993, and Wizards of the Coast would like to keep it going for as long as possible. Letting the game's power creep up overall would slowly kill the game, as every set would just push it higher until the game was no longer fun... but not letting new sets have powerful cards would make them not exiting for players, and would kill the game as well.
    • The solution is something that head designer Mark Rosewater likes to call the "Escher Stairwell": each new release pushes the power level up in one area of the game, while reducing it slightly in other areas. That way, each part of the game gets its time in the spotlight, and they cycle in and out every few years, keeping the game relatively balanced while still being fresh.
    • Of course, this doesn't always go as planned, and so every so often the developers make mistakes and a card or mechanic is far better than it should be (see here). To remedy this, much of Magic play is in the Standard format, which only allows cards from the last two years; this allows the developers to not worry about past mistakes as much. However, it does mean that the overall power level of the other formats - Modern, Legacy, Vintage, Commander, and so on - does creep up over time as more powerful cards are added and combos are discovered.
    • In addition, there's also been a lot of deliberate creep on the part of Wizards, as the game was extremely unbalanced when it first came out, which took over a decade of slowly changing power levels to fix. The overall pattern has been creatures growing in strength while spells got weaker. While many of the most powerful spells in the history of the game were printed in the games first few sets (including 3 of the infamous Power Nine which notably includes no creatures), the vast majority of creatures were simply terrible. For example Force Of Nature was originally the biggest creature in the game, an 8/8 (for 6 mana) that you need to keep paying mana to in order to keep alive. Nowadays, Terra Stomper - a "strictly better" version with a more flexible casting cost, the upkeep drawback removed, and a small perk added - is nowhere near good enough for competitive play (not that Force of Nature was ever close to competitively playable either).
    • Card power levels in Magic change so frequently that the term "strictly better" has entered the Magic lexicon, and to some extent the greater gaming lexicon, to describe the phenomenon. Card A is "strictly better" than Card B when they are identical in most parameters, and in the ones where they're different Card A has a clear advantage, meaning that Card A is preferable to Card B in almost all situations. Specific example: Lightning Bolt costs 1 mana and deals 3 damage, where Shock does only 2. Note that this comparison is not an example of power creep, as Shock is actually a deliberate Nerf to the very powerful Lightning Bolt; Shock is a good spell in Standard, but Lightning Bolt is a very good spell in the more powerful Modern format.
    • Finally, it should be pointed out that "strictly better" cards almost always have another downside: they're (almost always) strictly more expensive, especially in cases like Lightning Bolt vs Shock. How much more? In this case, ten times more (25¢ vs $2.50). Baneslayer Angel is infamous for this, as it's very nearly strictly better than the more common Serra Angel and cost nearly fifty dollars when it first came out. This is why competitive Magic decks for Modern or Legacy are infamously expensive to assemble.
    • Somewhat relatedly, Wizards has also identified complexity creep as an issue. The rules needed to deal with thousands of different cards make for an imposing document. The spiraling increases in complexity put the game at risk of being impossible for any potential customer to understand. This was another reason for the Standard format, as it has far fewer possible interactions that players need to track. At this point, the rules page on the Wizards website presents the basic rules, and the link to the 250-page Comprehensive Rules states that:
      The Comprehensive Rules of Magic is a reference document that holds all of the rules and possible corner cases found in Magic. It is NOT meant to be read beginning to end; instead it's meant to be consulted when specific rules questions come into play.
  • The Pokémon Trading Card Game raises the bar for each generation. In the 1st generation, Stage 2 Pokémon (Pokémon who have evolved twice, like Charizard) were lucky to have 120 HP. In the 5th generation, Basic Pokémon (Pokémon who don't evolve or haven't evolved) get published with this much HP or more in every set, with evolved Pokémon approaching 200 HP. Attacks have since increased in damage and Energy costs too. It has gotten to where Base Set Venusaur's "Energy Trans," which allows free transfer of Energy between Pokémon, was a near Game-Breaker in the card game's earliest days but the later Meganium Prime from HeartGold/SoulSilver, which has the same power, was quickly brushed aside for quicker and more powerful cards.
    • Inverted with Trainer Cards, which seem to get progressively worse as time goes on. In the original Base Set, you had a lot of draw power by using four copies each of Professor Oak, Bill, Computer Search, and Item Finder. Nowadays, cards with those effects are printed only as Supporter cards (you can only use them once per turn) or ACE SPEC cards (you can only have one in your deck), thus drastically limiting their potential.
    • The current record holder for most HP is Magikarp & Wailord GX, with an astounding 300 HP as, mechanically, a Basic Pokémon. For comparison, M Charizard EX, the current record holder for most damage in one attack, can still knock it out in one hit, with Crimson Dive, which does 300 damage. In general, EX cards (and their derivatives GX and V) seem to be fully leaning into the upward power creep.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! suffers heavily from Power Creep corresponding with the release of each new anime. The idea is that, to make the new game mechanics and wealth of new cards playable, they have to be stronger than what's already available. Most of the old cards that are still used tend to be "staples". This is sometimes subverted through the Forbidden & Limited List which attempts to balance the game out and can sometimes make older cards useful again.
    • The addition of new ways to Special Summon monsters (specifically, Synchro and Xyz) represent a major form of Power Creep. In the old days of Yu-Gi-Oh!, certain Special Summons (Fusions and Ritual monsters) required their own cards for set-up (such as Polymerization, Fusion Material monsters, or the Ritual Magic Card), and generally could not be as easily deployed. The metagame tended to favor powerful single-Tribute monsters at highest (such as Summoned Skull). Nowadays, the right deck set-up can swarm the field with Special Summoned level 7 or 8 monsters.
    • A common criticism of the game is that, unlike Pokémon and Magic the Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh! lacks any "Standard" format - a format that would only allow players to use cards from the last "n" sets. This has caused a constantly-fluctuating and extensive banned list, as well as older cards completely breaking the new Summon types.
      • The lack of 'standard' format is justified due to Konami periodically assessing the banlist, removing some older cards from it, since the meta game has changed. For example, in 2015, Raigeki (a spell with the effect to wipe out all opponent's monsters on the field without cost) was removed from the banned list, because most modern decks can handle getting hit by one due to easiness of special summoning in the meta-game than compared to the past.
    • And then there is the "Traditional" format that is used in some unofficial tournaments, which does not operate under the banned list. The thing is entirely dominated by FTK decks and old ones have about just as much chance to win as new ones. You could say that this format perfectly determines how broken some cards actually are.
    • The franchise's fondness for this was evident extremely early on. In the first set ever released in Japan, the strongest monster that could be summoned without tribute (that is, after the introduction of the Expert ruleset that added Tribute Summoning to the game) was Hitotsu-Me Giant, with 1200 ATK and 1000 DEF. One month later, Celtic Guardian showed up with 1400 ATK and 1200 DEF. By Volume 4, just six months later, Gemini Elf was running around with 1900 ATK, and 2000 DEF monsters were downright common—many cards came out already powercrept because they couldn't stack up to Gemini Elf's statline. Equip Spells like Laser Cannon Armor and Legendary Sword, which gave a 300 ATK boost and could only be equipped to a specific type of monster, were rendered useless by Sword of Deep-Seated, which gave a 500 ATK boost and could be equipped to any monster. Ookazi, which did 800 burn damage, rendered Sparks (200), Raimei (300), Hinotama (500), and Final Flame (600) all strictly worse. All of this happened inside of the game's first year, and nearly all of the above cards are completely forgotten by the meta today. Part of the reason Effect Monsters were created was that they allowed more avenues to make a monster good than just jacking up its stats; thankfully, the upper limit for low-level monster statlines has more or less stayed at 2000 since the late GX era, though this has led to Normal Monsters being something of an endangered species outside of decks relying specifically on their support.
      • Effects as well. Early on? Monsters could often rely off of pure stats, while effect monsters were weak but made up the difference with effects. Effects became the more prioritised aspect of determining whether or not a card was useful, outside of a few cards which could be powerful enough (And often still required attack to be around 1700 or 1800 and/or defence of 1800-2000 to see play as anything more than tribute fodder) statwise to stand on their own. Effects later became more and more complex - which would require people to have a magnifying glass or be very good at reading small print.
    • Oddly inverted with Spells and Traps. Many of those from the beginning of the series had simple, yet powerful effects like Monster Reborn (Special Summon any monster from either Graveyard at no cost), Pot of Greed, (draw 2 cards at no costs), Raigeki (destroy all your opponents monsters at no cost), and Change of Heart (take control of any monster your opponent controls at no cost). Later cards would have a cost and/or be less efficient. In particular, Mystical Space Typhoon stayed in use for over a decade, only finally falling out of use when cards like Twin Twisters and Galaxy Cyclone showed up (and even they're more sidegrades than upgrades; it's just that said sidegrades happen to be very favorable in the modern game)
      • Power creep has led to formerly banned or limited cards coming off the list because a lot of recent cards are more resilient or have ways to get around getting blown out by powerful cards. Modern Yu-Gi-Oh is filled with boss monsters that negate, are impervious to destruction, or have bonus effects if they leave the field, such that just a single boardwipe alone isn't a foolproof way of dismantling the opponent's advantage — it is now more favorable to have ways to negate the opponent's effects that would otherwise keep you from getting to combos that blow them open. To illustrate this, Raigeki came down from Forbidden to Limited in 2014 in the TCG (2019 in the OCG) without really breaking the game that much, and was loosened to three copies in 2022 in the TCG.
    • A side-effect of this power creep is to suddenly make previously valid strategies actively detrimental, or make previously weak cards insanely broken, for example:
      • In the early days of the game milling (sending a player's cards from the deck to the graveyard) was detrimental as you'd risk losing a key card or being decked out. By the late GX era, so many cards had useful effects in the graveyard that milling your own deck has become a benefit rather than a cost—first demonstrated by Lightsworns, which used it as their primary game mechanic.
      • Tokens at one point were of limited usefulness due to taking up space on the board and frequently not being usable for a Tribute Summon, and some cards like Ojama Trio specifically relied on giving a Token with negative effects to your opponent. Nowadays, Synchro and Link Summoning allows tokens to easily be removed, netting you free material for a strong monster in the bargain, so giving them to your opponent is a very bad idea.
      • Ancient Fairy Dragon destroys all Field Spell cards on the field and lets you activate one of your own from your deck. This was a mediocre effect when the card was released since most Field Spells were not very useful, but since then Field Spells have become much more powerful with valuable effects on activation and often act as the lynchpin of the deck, so the card that destroys your opponent's Field Spell while netting an extra activation for yours now spends time on the banlist.
  • One of the (many) Dragon Ball Z trading card games saw this to an extreme degree with its very first expansion. The base set was overall pretty balanced - the more powerful characters had limitations, and sub-par combat cards in the set served as a balancing factor for specialized "style decks" due to the restricted card selection of those decks. Then the first expansion came out, and introduced characters with power levels several times those of the base sets cards, and combat cards that were flat-out better than previous cards with no trade-offs. The second expansion set introduced new versions of the basic characters with power levels so much higher as to make the original version worthless. And it went on from there. While this does follow the course of Dragon Ball Z's story (which is essentially Power Creep manifest), it represents a complete failure of Gameplay and Story Segregation.
  • As new cards were introduced to Hearthstone, Power Creep inevitably followed. For example, when released Piloted Shredder was so much more powerful than any existing four mana minion that in most cases it became the only card worth playing at that cost. The following expansion had to include several cards designed specifically to counter it because the card had become so dominant. Extra Credits discusses this specific case in detail here.
    • In this case, some Power Creep is seen as positive when it is used on something that was already worthless to begin with. The two cards in the page image are actually an example of this. The Ice Rager is "strictly better" (as Magic players put it) than the Magma Rager, having two Hit Points instead of one and being identical in all other respects (3 Mana to cast, 5 attack); if you have access to both, there is never a reason to play Magma Rager instead of Ice Rager. Having said that, there was also never a reason to play the Magma Rager in the first place, because it's an awful card.note )
    • Players actually called this with two cards introduced in The Grand Tournament expansion: Evil Heckler is exactly the same as Booty Bay Bodyguard (A 5-Mana 5/4 minion with Taunt), but costs 1 Mana less, and Ice Rager marginally beats out the infamously bad Magma Rager in usefulness by the merit of having a single point of Health more than Magma Rager (as a 5/2, as opposed to a 5/1). This was acknowledged by Blizzard, and even parodied (see below). However, as pointed out by Extra Credits, Neither Magma Rager nor Booty Bay Bodyguard ever saw use except as throwaways by new players who didn't have anything better, and even then, they were probably ditched after two games tops; as such, Ice Rager and Evil Heckler aren't strictly examples of power creep since they're straight upgrades to cards that might as well not exist to begin with and themselves saw next to no play.
    • Blizzard seems to be addressing the Power Creep issue with the introduction of Standard format, which forbids older expansions from being used. Coincidentally, the two expansions that are first being rotated out of the format (Curse of Naxxramas and Goblins vs. Gnomes) contains many of the most dominant cards in the game since. It also ensures that even new and possibly overpowered cards will eventually get cycled out, or at least possibly receive indirect nerfs by removing older cards that had strong synergy with newer ones. For example, Mysterious Challenger, the single-most notorious card at the moment, got less powerful with the removal of Avenge and Muster for Battle. note 
    • Parodied in Whispers of the Old Gods with Am'gam Rager. As the name implies, it's the aforementioned Magma Rager in reverse, and its flavor text is "peerc rewop". The joke is that a 1/5 is for three mana is about as bad as a 5/1.
    • A general issue with the Basic/Classic Sets is that they heavily overvalued effects like restoring health and Taunt while undervaluing effects like gaining attack and Charge. Later expansions have power creeped heavily to give effects their proper cost, to the complaints of almost no one... though a lot of players would enjoy the original cards being adjusted to match instead of simply being replaced. A commonly-touted example is Silverback Patriarch, a 3-cost 1/4 Beast with Taunt who even at the time was criminally understatted (basically paying 2 mana for 1 attack when compared to the 0/4 Shieldbearer, and even in the 3-mana slot, the 3/3 Ironfur Grizzly beat it out by 1 stat point total). Silverback Patriarch is so infamously bad, the Hearthstone wiki has a page cataloging every card superior to it.
    • There's a minor joke about this. Back in the day, the 4 mana 3/5 statline would net you one word: Taunt and people used it all the time. Nowadays it takes a paragraph and fills your board with minions, and people are maybe considering using it.
    • To put the game's power creep in perspective: Chillwind Yeti and Boulderfist Ogre, a 4-mana 4/5 and 6-mana 6/7 respectively, were considered the gold standard of stat efficiency in the early days of the game. Any minion with their mana costs that have actual effects would have worse stats in exchange... for a while. It wasn't long before Chillwind Yeti was power-creeped by cards that share the 4-mana 4/5 statline but also have actual effects, and Boulderfist Ogre eventually followed.
    • Battlegrounds, the alternate Auto Chess-like game mode, also went through surges of power creep, especially for the heroes. Early in the game mode's life where strategies weren't as refined and heroes weren't as strong, one of the best heroes were Millificent Manastorm, who got free stats on minions even though it was Mechs only, and Infinite Toki, who could find a random minion of a Tavern Tier higher each turn. Both are considered mid to low tier by today's standards. Arch-Thief Rafaam set the gold standard of top tier heroes, who gains a copy of the first minion he kills each turn for 1 Gold (1/3 the cost of purchasing a minion), giving him a significant early game power and economic advantage. Most top tier heroes would follow the same trend: they have either a cheap or free Hero Power that lets them steamroll the early game against anyone that doesn't, or gets extremely gold-efficient later on that it makes up for the risk they took spending Gold to upgrade Tavern Tiers early. The game mode favoring early-gamers also made late-game heroes and tribes significantly worse, because losing an extra turn or two limits much they scale to make a comeback. Take a look at George the Fallen: before, giving a minion Divine Shield for 4 Gold was considered pretty strong even though it was slow. Now, his Hero Power costs 2 Gold and he's considered a mid tier hero.
  • In Cardfight!! Vanguard, to see pure Power Creep in action, just look at how mechanics have progressed - at first, we had normal grade 3 units. Then, we got Limit Break and Break Rides, the former of which commonly added 5000 power to the vanguard, and the latter adding 10000. Legion kept the roughly-10000 power increase but eased up the activation conditions, as well as giving it to the vanguard for the entire time they are in Legion, not just the Break Ride turn. Now we have Striding, which adds 15000 power to the vanguard's attacking power, and it's fairly difficult to not be able to Stride at all. However the next mechanic works, it's a safe bet that it will add 20000 power to your vanguard.
    • It's present on the other end of the scale as well; first, every card was either 5000 shield or 10000 shield. Slowly, more units came out that could go from 5000 to 10000 shield, as well as being passable units in their own right (if not amazing). The G-era gave most clans a card which was worth 15000 shield once a condition was met. Now, we get G-guardians, which are always the full 15000 shield, as well as adding all sorts of useful abilities (including gaining even more shield) on top.
      • Perfect shields/null guards/complete shields have had their own style of creep. The base units were able to stop any attack by discarding a card. Newer versions only did it for your vanguard (i.e. the only unit that usually gets attacked with huge enough numbers to warrant a perfect shield anyway), but gave you a counterblast back if there was another copy of itself in the drop. Now, keyword perfect shields frequently lose the reflip ability, but give you some way to bounce back to the hand from the field, letting you use it as an actual unit without sacrificing the ability to defend from high-power attacks at all.
    • Costs in general for abilities also lower over time. What once cost three counterblast now is free with new support, as well as adding 10000 power on top to make sure the front row gets pummelled... And even that wasn't even good enough to play, on release.
  • Shadowverse has its fair share of Power Creep like any other card game, in not just general card quality improvements, but also with high-cost cards having exponentially stronger game-ending effects.
    • Take a look at Fafnir from the original set: It's a sizeable 8/10 Dragoncraft follower for 9 Play Points and deals 2 damage to every other follower to clear out multiple small or dying followers. Now compare that to Bahamut, who costs 1 more Play Point, is a 9/9, is Neutral, and completely destroys every other follower, regardless of their defense. Now which of these would you include in your deck?
    • Compare Maelstrom Dragon, a 2pp 2/1 which gains Storm if played during Overflow, with Dragoon Scyther, which only costs 1pp more, has 1 extra defense, gains Storm like her predecessor, but also packs Bane that lets her pick off enemy powerhouses. Naturally the latter is used much more.
    • Spectral Wizard and Magic Owl both do the same thing — Spellboost cards in hand twice on evolution. Magic Owl, however, has entirely eclipsed Spectral Wizard, being 1pp cheaper and being 1 attack stronger after evolution, on top of being a Bronze card to add insult to injury.
    • Skullfane was one of the most comically tragic cases of Power Creep from the original set. A 7-cost 4/4 follower is terrible on its own, but while its effect of destroying all amulets might sound good on paper, but it's impractical to have multiple worthwhile follower-summoning amulets to set up before playing Skullfane (not to mention the best you can get out of an amulet was a 6/6 follower back then), not to mention it also destroys any amulets without Countdown that aren't meant to be destroyed. Two expansions later, Eidolon of Madness is added to the game, which while it requires evolving for an instant effect, it does what Skullfane does but does it every end of turn as long as it's alive. When that wasn't good enough, two more expansions later, Heresy's Avatar gets added, which does the same thing but is permanent after it's destroyed, and it also affects only your Countdown amulets — the only ones worth destroying. Oh, and you can even combo it with Zodiac Demon to kill it off instantly. With that many layers of Power Creep, Skullfane has gone from a bad legendary to one of the worst cards in the game.note 
    • The Power Creep seeped into design philosophy starting from the Rise of Bahamut card set, and came to a head in Tempest of the Gods and Wonderland Dreams, where the blatantly overpowered cards had a massive hand in creating the most dominant decks of their time which pushed out everything else. It was so bad that as of 2018, Cygames has nerfed at least twelve cards each from both the Tempest and Wonderland expansions to keep things in check, and even then some of the more dominant decks in the Rotation format hinged on cards from those expansions that have managed to avoid getting nerfed. Their design philosophy has shifted away from blatant Power Creep, but it will take time for the powerhouses of the past to leave the Rotation format to give their new ideas the breathing space to grow.
    • ...Except even after those sets rotated out, Power Creep continues to run rampant, only in a different way, and depending on your point of view, worse. Cygames prints less cards that are bloated in raw value (usually), but because of their philosophies shifting towards archetypes and their continued insistence on believing games should not last more than 10 turns on average, Power Creep is now geared more towards utility and making win conditions better. Post-Wonderland Shadowverse is extremely tailored towards specific archetypes and full of cards with permanent leader effects, and keywords like Choose, Accelerate, and Invocation create more cards that are less "dead draws" and decks easier to sift through. Cygames also has a habit of printing the perfect curve filler, combo piece, or just way to deal face damage effortlessly to underwhelming archetype one or half an expansion later and have it suddenly jump up a tier. What this means is that any deck that doesn't build itself entirely around these "win condition" cards has almost zero chance of winning against decks that do (even budget aggro decks struggle if they don't have a good mid-cost - and probably Gold or Legendary - finisher). Power Creep has also started to affect stats as well, with since Omen of the Ten the gold standard stats for 3-cost followers jumping up from 2/3 to 3/3 and way more cards with Evolve effects getting the full +2/+2.

    Video Games 
  • This happens a lot in each Civilization game with each expansion pack. As new mechanics are added, older civilizations may not be able to perform the same play style as effectively, while new civilizations may have unique units, buildings, and abilities that seriously outclass those from the vanilla game.
    • In Civ V, America's unique ability, "Manifest Destiny", cuts the cost of buying tiles in half (and gives all land units +1 sight, a comparatively minor buff). Come the Brave New World expansion, you have the Shoshone's unique ability, "Great Expanse", which gives every newly-founded city eight free tiles and gives military units a combat bonus when fighting on friendly territory (i.e. on the home front). This thoroughly outclassed America's unique ability, which many fans felt should have been beefed up in Brave New World to make up for it. One of America's unique units, the Minuteman, did get a minor buff (it now generates Golden Age points from victories), but not enough to compensate.
    • Also from V, the Aztecs did not get a rework in Brave New World. Before that, their unique ability, "Sacrificial Captives", giving them Culture for kills meant that they could be used to pursue a Cultural Victory (which involved accumulating culture points and using them to buy social policies), counterintuitive though it might seem. Under the Tourism system introduced by Brave New World, which heavily redesigned the Culture system, including Cultural Victories, that is no longer possible.
    • The big one in V, though, is India. Their unique ability, "Population Growth", is the only one that carries a penalty: namely, it doubles unhappiness from the number of cities, with the fact that it halves unhappiness from total population (a very powerful buff) making up for it. It was crafted with the intention of building a very "tall" nation with a small handful of very densely-populated and built-up cities, which was optimal for a Cultural Victory in the vanilla game (more cities increases the culture cost of social policies). Brave New World, however, changed Cultural Victories such that a large empire is now preferable, precisely the sort of thing that India's unique ability pulls against. The result is that one of the best empires for a Culture Victory in the vanilla game and Gods & Kings becomes a Low-Tier Letdown in Brave New World.
    • The fact that this trope was averted with Arabia and France in V, who both had their unique abilities completely redesigned for Brave New World to take advantage of the new systems in place (and in France's case, also got a new unique improvement to go with it), was especially stinging. Many fans felt that what was done with Arabia and France should've been a model for how to redesign other civs whose abilities were made redundant by new civs or changes to gameplay mechanics.
  • Dungeon Fighter Online is pretty good on this matter but some of it still occurs mainly with higher caps making some of the lengthy quest for gear at a certain point useless to some new subclasses and class tweaks being quite strong but they don't remain that way for long. It's rumored that some of the recent tweaking (in regards to the game's raid content) in the Korean version threatens to invoke this on a massive scale.
  • While not a multiplayer game, the Dynasty Warriors franchise exhibits this greatly, due to having so many successive entries, with each entry adding more and more new playable characters. Newly added characters usually have more powerful and/or flashier movesets, while older characters are left in the dust.
    • This is painfully apparent in the fourth main installment of Samurai Warriors, where the returning characters are still using their old movesets from their first appearance, some as old as 10 years ago, while the new characters added in this entry have generally stronger and more effective movesets.
    • Musou Stars is a crossover game that puts new and old characters together, including some of the older characters from the above mentioned Samurai Warriors. It attempts to rectify this by adding new moves to the older characters' movesets and injecting various enhancements, such as new attack animations, larger hitboxes, and smoother movement.
  • Elsword is pretty bad about this in both releasing overpowered new content and the nerfing of things, often resulting in an uneven level of power. Like the League of Legends example, people suspect the new classes are overpowered to cause people to buy class change items to change them. All the while they're very slow to really bring up older classes/characters up to speed to the newer ones. Tellingly, despite being a Character Title game, players of Elsword -the first character on the roster- are vanishingly rare in the end-game.
  • EverQuest was probably one of the first MMORPGs to face this problem on a large scale. When the game first launched, a weapon with a damage/delay ratio of 1:3 (for example, 8 damage, 24 delay) was considered nearly endgame in terms of its damage output, and some of the endgame weapons were barely better, boasting ratios of 1:2.5 or so. With the release of the very first expansion, Ruins of Kunark, it became possible for characters in their mid 20s to obtain weapons with comparable ratios, and characters in the high 40s could obtain weapons with a 1:2 ratio, which would've been unheard of even as endgame loot in the base game. Fast forward just a few years (and expansions) down the line and weapons with "upside down" ratios of 1.5:1 and even 2:1 started showing up. It became so bad that the endgame loot from the first few expansions wouldn't even be seen as worthy for handing down to lower level alts, since it was far easier to get better gear without even having to raid for it.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy XI is fairly good on this track since the release of the Abyssea expansion, first raising the maximum player level from 75 to 99 and then providing equipment that "simulates" player levels well above 100 by equipping it (in the later Adoulin expansion). While previous expansions did provide increases in equipment, those were mostly marginal or situational, but newer equipment has escalated on the improvements to such a degree that, for example, the legendary "Pandemonium Warden" boss (which gained some notoriety outside the community) can now be beaten by a single player, and there seems to be no end in sight, with nearly monthly updates that add new equipment (compared to the previous policy of roughly two updates a year that mostly fixed bugs or other issues). The developers have attempted (and at times succeeded) in keeping older content up-to-date by creating copies of it with higher statistics and level requirements and consequently level-appropriate rewards. The game's population has continued to decrease on many servers, but whether that is because of a case of "Broken Base" or despite the changes made by the developers is hard to say.
    • Final Fantasy XIV:
      • This invevitably happened where player stat(s) and damage per second often double over the course of an expansion. A level 50 player from A Realm Reborn would be slaughtered by level 50-51 Mooks in Heavensward, for example. This is why the game would scale players' item level up during mandatory post-game dungeons as well as provide a secondary set of gear after the next expansion is out. Additionally, tomestones of lore can be used to purchase gear from previous expansion content with item levels that are well on par with the highest level gear from that expansion back when it was new, good enough to last the next four-ish levels.
      • The exponential growth of player stats over time actually made the devs have to perform a stat squish in Endwalker. Tanks could generate so much Enmity that it was able to cause an overflow error and reset it back to 0.
      • Power creep also has an affect on older content due to how level syncing works. Level sync reduces a player's power and disables skills that are beyond the "cap" imposed by the level sync. Item level, which is the player's stats based on their gear, is usually not synced down. This creates cases where a high level player doing early game content can quickly kill enemies compared to another player whose gear is weak. This also has the side effect of players' technically being at the intended level, but the power creep from the item sync has them much much stronger than when they first did it, thus they are technically approaching it with maximized best-in-slot gear. The game does have an item level sync as a self challenge option for those that want to experience old content at the intended difficulty, but one can't queue for that without a party of four.
  • Granblue Fantasy: Many characters have become less useful over time not because of their raw stats, but because they don't offer the variety that new characters often bring. However, there's a number of rebalance patches that attempt to bring older characters up to a more current standard, though some older characters' kits are just too flawed to improve much.
  • Kingdom of Loathing has the "Item of the Month", purchasable in the cash shop (or with loads of in game money) which serve as the game's source of revenue. These items are usually the most powerful thing you could put in the 'slot' that it occupies, with several slots only being usable by these items. The items need to be worth purchasing for even old players, and so a small amount of this can certainly be seen as time goes on. However, a fair amount of the power creep owes to the very idea of what these items were allowed to do, as early items were just mildly buffed versions of existent items, or else just a bit more versatile or fun. Later items are much more powerful, in general, than early items because of a change in design philosophy to make these items much more unique, which usually translates in practice to more powerful.
    • The developers are somewhat keen on averting this, however, although the limited availability of these items doesn't help matters. Some particularly popular old items have been "re-released" in different forms. In some cases, they provide the same "important" option as before, but with some minor differences. New players can more easily obtain the useful item, and old players (who are generally obsessed with gaining every advantage they can) will find a way for the slight differences to give them a reason to use both. On the other hand, there have been instances where the new versions are almost complete upgrades, obviating the need for the old versions.
    • Kingdom of Loathing, however, is for the most part a single player game. As such, it manages to avoid a lot of the problems generally caused by this trope. Players without a single Item of the Month can happily play the game, and still share quite a few strategies with those who own every single one, since the only real competition is indirect, and there's no need to worry about those who have been around longer and spent more money ruining the fun of those who aren't willing to spend money themselves.
    • Many of the boss drops in the expanded Sea quest are unambiguously better than anything that came before them. The Stick-Knife is one of the most ridiculous: its +200% Spell Damage property is equivalent to the highest-end magic staffs, but the Knife is not a magic staff, comes with additional powerful add-ons that staffs don't have, and can, unlike staffs, be dual-wielded.
    • The game also has the unusual problem of "adventure creep." Its Anti Poop-Socking mechanism limits the turns available per day, but there's no hard limit, and many items allow you to gain extra turns—rare or expensive ones tend to be more efficient. Some things directly increase the free chunk of turns you'll get the next day, or allow you to do certain things more times per you'd expect, this leads to people spending more and more time on the game, and the developers aren't sure if this is a good thing or not.
  • League of Legends is a Free-to-Play Multiplayer Online Battle Arena that updates frequently, usually accompanied with new characters. Accusations of Power Creep are frequent, and its developers have made it clear they are intent on avoiding it. Nerfs regularly happen in updates — to the point that some players accuse the developer of releasing characters Purposely Overpowered to cause players who like winning to buy them with Microtransactions, and then Nerf them in the next patch to placate their fanbase after raking in cash for a few weeks. That being said, numerous characters have been dubbed underpowered on release as well. While power creep has definitely set in over the years, Riot does seem to be making an effort to keep it from getting out of hand, which is best evidenced by their tendency to nerf strong champs rather than buff weak ones (as an overabundance of buffs tends to lead to the game turning into a trigger-happy crowd control and burst-fest).
    • A particular example where the developers think they have failed to avoid the trope are many melee-range "fighter" characters being "overtuned". In a game where being melee-ranged potentially means up to five enemy players attacking you at once, while you can't hit more than one of them at a time in return, Riot have responded by making melee characters with sustained healing potential, movement-hampering crowd-control effects, high durability, good damage, and low cooldown Flash Step abilities to quickly place them next to targets (compared to movement-speed-increasing abilities that still force the user to run up to targets and are countered by slowing effects). The problem is, this puts the onus back on the ranged characters, who have little chance to avoid being gap-closed without the help of allies, or having a Flash Step of their own to dodge with. In other words, the only obvious drawback to this new breed of melee characters is they are not ranged, especially when earlier examples of fighters tended to have some clear lack of one of these aspects. A sentiment among some of the game's players similarly believe "gap-closer/gapcloser"s as a concept is overused by newer characters, numerous popular characters have them, and this has caused a "mobility creep" in new releases. To be fair, a lot more of the mobility options are conditional or otherwise involve some amount of risk, which is better than the targeted blink gap closers or click-and-escape abilities that used to be far more numerous.
  • Power creep has taken form in Grand Theft Auto: Online's multiple years of content updates. Here are a few examples:
    • Car performance has been slowly escalating as the game has gone on, although with super cars the slowly part doesn't really apply. When the game was released, out of all the super cars released with the game, only the Adder is still technically the best in its given skill set and it's not by much. Cars like the Entity and Zentorno (which itself made several super cars obsolete when it was introduced) were surpassed by newer DLC cars like the Osiris and T20. After these cars came the X80 proto which functionally dethroned the Adder as the fastest car in the game while also having incredible acceleration and handling. After that came the cunning stunts cars, which had lower speed and or acceleration but even better handling than the X80.
    • Cars' abilities also suffer from this. The basic cars the game had from the start are your typical get-you-from-point-A-to-point-B vehicles, but slowly cars were introduced that had mounted guns, bulletproof and later explosion-proof plating, and even homing rocket launchers.
      • One notable example is with the Ruiner 2000, a car that has a jump-and-glide ability that gives you Video Game Flight. The following update had a DeLorean Expy that just straight up gave you the ability to fly.
    • Better and better ways to make money have come out as the game has progressed. First grinding contact missions were the only real way to make the big bucks without resorting to Shark cards. Then heists were finally released giving the players access to huge payouts and shattering the standard set by contact missions. Then CEO work added to the game which boasted even greater money-making in the same amount of time at the cost of being much riskier due to both investment in product and by virtue of taking place in free roam lobbies. Then Motorcycle club businesses were released which don't offer quite the same money for total time but require a far less active role and don't require the player to risk investment in product. After that Import Exporting was introduced with an even safer and faster way to make money than the MC businesses. And after the July 2018 After Hours update, you have the nightclub, the first business that allows you to have a truly passive method of making money, needing only to do a mission every half hour to maintain nightclub popularity.
  • There have been complaints that the co-op portion of Mass Effect 3 is feeling the effects of this, with accusations that each expansion's new weapons and character classes are deliberately overpowered compared to the vanilla ones in order to encourage spending more in-game credits/Microsoft Points on equipment packs.
  • Pokémon:
    • The franchise has generally averted this for Base Stat Totals (the base numbers that determine a Pokemon's stat distribution). BSTs of fully evolved Pokémon generally range from 450-550, legendaries have 550-600, and a few super-legendaries have 600-700. However, power creep has instead occurred in BST spreads becoming more specialized as time goes on, while competitive Pokémon highly prioritizes Min-Maxing over being a Jack of All Stats. For example, Machamp was the premier physical Mighty Glacier Fighting type at first, but then Gen 5 introduced Conkeldurr, another 'mon in the same niche, the same BST of 505 and most of the same moves and abilities as Machamp, but with its stat spread geared more towards Attack/HP/Defense, in exchange for a lower Special Attack that is irrelevant for it and a marginal decrease in Special Defense/Speed. Conkeldurr has completely surpassed Machamp competitively ever since. Mega Evolutions from Pokémon X and Y and Ultra Beasts from Pokémon Sun and Moon are also designed along these lines, having lower BSTs than top legendaries but being highly specialized and punching well above their weight.
    • A similar situation also occurs with Abilities (passive effects that Pokémon possess). An ability that was introduced in Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, the game in which abilities were created, would provide something simple: For example, the ability Water Veil prevents the Pokémon from receiving a burn. An ability that was introduced later might provide the same effect plus something extra: Water Bubble (an ability introduced in Pokémon Sun and Moon) not only prevents burns, but also halves the damage received from Fire attacks and doubles the power of Water attacks (this last effect isn't even mentioned in its in-game description). However, this one is downplayed as Water Bubble is the Secret Art of Dewpider and Araquanid whereas Water Veil is a fairly widespread ability.
    • Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire brought along Mega Evolutions for its Legendaries. Primal Groudon and Primal Kyogre are exempt from the "only one Mega per team" rule, — essentially allowing three in a single party. Meanwhile, Mega Rayquaza requires no held item to Mega Evolve (it just needs to know a specific powerful attack), possesses an Ability that removes its Flying type weaknesses and other Weather conditions, has a base Attack of 180, and tied with Mega Mewtwo X/Y's 780 BST for highest ever in the franchise. It has the infamous distinction of causing Smogon (a competitive Pokemon website) to create a new tier called "Anything Goes" for the sole purpose of keeping Mega Rayquaza out of the previously-highest Uber tier.
    • While earlier Pokémon generally have inferior stat spreads compared to later ones, many Pokémon from early Gens can combat power creep by getting new moves, abilities, evolutions, and other changes to mechanics that make them much more playable. One such major change was in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, when all moves were now denoted as physical or special on an individual basis, rather than it being determined by a move's typing, which breathed new life into the many Pokémon whose typing made them previously unable to effectively utilize their better attack stat. The above-mentioned Mega Evolution mechanic was also given to older Pokémon.
    • Although BST ranges have remained fairly standardized for normal Pokémon, the aforementioned Olympus Mons have seen more straightforward power creep. Newer legendaries are more powerful in general, but the most egregious case has to Arceus, the creator deity of the Pokémon universe, who has 120 in all stats for a total of 720, at the time of its debut the highest stats in the series. Now that title is held by Mega Rayquaza, Mewtwo X and Mewtwo Y, each of whom has a 780 BST. Later legendaries are able to functionally exceed even that, through mechanics such as the attack boost given by Zacian's signature Intrepid Sword ability.
  • Hits the later MechWarrior games quite hard. In MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries, the mechs added by MekTek when the game became Freeware are often blatantly better in many roles than the vanilla mechs. In Living Legends, the later added mechs are better overall than the older mechs due to superior chassis characteristics and often better variants - though the older mechs were buffed to competitiveness in the final update. Power Creep will be a game mechanic in Online, which takes place right at the time when Lost Technology is being rediscovered, and when the Clans invade with their superior technology - the old mechs with 3025 tech will be curb-stomped by the later 3049 or 3050 series of mechs.
  • Team Fortress 2 almost always subverts this; virtually all unlockable weapons have downsides (the few exceptions are gimmick melee weapons, which are technically better than the stock weapons, but worse than most of the other options). Anything that's considered a must-have tends to be a utility item that doesn't replace your primary weapon, such as the Heavy's Sandvich (replacement for shotgun) which they use to heal their Medics, or the Sniper's Jarate (replacement for SMG) which gives the character a team player tactic.
    • Melee weapons play the trope straight - the original intention for classes (outside of the Spy, with his one-hit kill backstab melee weapon) was their melee weapons being used as a universal "last resort" attack, should they run out of ammo or just be caught off-guard. However, since ammo is always plentiful and the base skill of players has gone up, for the most part stock melee weapons are rarely used, ditched im favor of ones that provide utility (usually movespeed) or gimmicks (like more damage in certain situations).
  • The Battle Royale game Call of Duty: Warzone suffered from the problem of new guns that are more powerful than existing ones. When the game mode started out as a spin-off of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019), it shared the same meta weapons from the base game like the M13 assault rifle and HDR sniper rifle. However, subsequent Modern Warfare seasonal updates added new weapons like the Grau 5.56 assault rifle and SP-R marksman rifle, which supplanted the base guns thanks to their competitive stats and additional benefits like better sights and faster bullet velocity. Then integration of Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War into Warzone brought in new weapons like the MAC10 submachine gun, C58 assault rifle and Swiss K31 sniper rifle, which are superior to their Modern Warfare counterparts with better recoil, damage output and handling. Some have accused Activision of intentionally introducing better weapons to incentivize players into buying COD points with real world money to unlock these weapons.
  • Found all over the place in the Mario & Luigi and Paper Mario series. To elaborate:
    • In Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, the weakest enemy has 4 HP, the first big boss has either 30 or 50 HP depending on which one you count, and the final boss has 1200 HP. In Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, the weakest enemy has 8 HP, the first boss has between 96 and 288 HP depending on which you count, and the final boss has 2417 HP. Bros Attacks, Badge effects and gear have also got progressively more powerful as the series has progressed. Averted with Battle Ring/Gauntlet bosses (the ones in Bowser's Inside Story are stronger) and Partners in Time's later bosses (which are harder than those in the last two games).
    • This is easy to spot in Paper Mario, with the first game's weakest 'real' boss having 10 HP, Thousand-Year Door's having either 12 or 20 HP, Super Paper Mario's having 20 or more HP and Sticker Star's having 90 HP. The final bosses also have 99 HP, 150 HP, 200 HP and 500 HP respectively. The power of most attacks also went up in each game.
    • Though all of these are cases of Power Seep when compared to the forerunner to both of those series, Super Mario RPG had numbers similar to other RPGs of the time and even now: the player's HP caps at 999, enemies can have upwards of four digits, and the strongest attack does 9999 damage.
  • Super Mario Bros. has its iconic Fire Flower, which has seen its usefulness diminish as the series has gone on. In the first game, it was the only way you could attack outside of a Goomba Stomp, while in Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World, you had the Super Leaf and Cape Feather that also provided you with a decent attack, but added mobility boosts on top of that. New Super Mario Bros. Wii added the Ice Flower on top of that, which is basically a better Fire Flower — instead of just defeating enemies, it turns them into ice blocks you can use as platforms or projectiles. It's even worse in the 3D titles because you have to worry about aiming at your targets.
  • MapleStory takes this trope and runs with it. Due to the age and lifespan of the game and the nature of it being a constantly-evolving MMORPG, this is bound to happen. Characters that are added later down the line have abilities that are astronomical compared to characters present during the game's launch. To their credit, Wizet often overhauls the older classes with new skills and animations to the point where they are still exceptionally viable alongside the newcomers. While the newer classes tend to be more visually impressive, the older classes can easily keep up damage-wise.
  • This has been a problem with Star Trek Online concerning PVP as the game keeps tossing more and more starships with stronger weapons and abilities. The worst of the bunch is the Romulan Scimitar warbird. Outfitted the right way, you could essentially one-man an Elite PVE match and dominate PVP. In the same vein, people use this as to dump the Galaxy-class and Galaxy-X-class ships as this as they focus more on tanking than actual DPS, leading to them thinking of it as "useless".
    • Star Trek Online has had this problem since the arrival of the Romulans in the first expansion Legacy of Romulus. Romulan Bridge Officers have the ability "Subterfuge", with makes them fearsome when coming out of cloaking as they get a hefty damage bonus doing so. Getting an entire set of Bridge Officers with the better "Superior Subterfuge" means you can wreck things immediately coming out of cloak. It gets worse as many players will tell you that, if you want to get the best effect, have your Romulan character choose to side with the Klingon Defense Force as they'll tell you that their Vandal Destroyer (which includes the power level-booster Plasmonic Leech) and the Romulans' Valdore-class (which include the shield regenerating Shield Absorptive Frequency Generator) makes you a fearsome foe.
    • The Tier 6 ships introduced in the second expansion Delta Rising has seen calls of this, especially towards older ships as they include an extra console slot, an extra Bridge Officer power slot, involve new powers and include abilities that make you even stronger.
  • Warframe suffers from this a lot for two main reasons. First, the game's mechanics are constantly getting refined and overhauled, but older equipment rarely gets revisited to make it work with the new mechanics. Second, there's the reason most power creep occurs: the developers want the new equipment to be relevant. Here are a few notable examples:
    • Before Update 13, heavy weapons ruled the melee world thanks to their powerful charge attacks. When Melee 2.0 removed charge attacks, heavy weapons didn't get anything in return, leading them to get outclassed by faster weapons which could be more easily used as mobility tools. Surprisingly, they did get a significant damage boost much later, allowing them to become relevant once again.
    • The Boltor Prime is the most blatant example for primary weapons. Compared to their non-Prime counterparts, most Prime weapons have damage bonus between about 20% and about 40%. The Boltor Prime has a 120% bonus over the Boltor. And unlike most guns its accuracy doesn't suffer much from the damage-boosting Heavy Caliber mod. It's widely considered to be the "default" endgame rifle, to the point where many players dislike it because of how often it gets used. DE seems to have learned their lesson here, since while many primaries since have been on par with it, nothing has outright been able to outclass it.
    • Newer Warframes tend to have more cohesive kits (compare Mirage to Saryn), but the real example is Prime Warframes. Initially, they were fancy reskins with different default polarities and a special interaction with the Death Orbs in the Void. That lasted until the fifth one, Rhino Prime, was released. In an unprecedented move, Rhino Prime had a statistical advantage over his base counterpart: his movement speed had been increased from 0.9 to 1.0. While the change wasn't game-breaking (without an Arcane Vanguard helmet, at least), the damage had been done. The very next Prime, Loki Prime, featured a significant boost to his energy pool, making it the highest in the game at the time. Then Nyx Prime came with two stat boosts, both modest and not especially helpful for her; this didn't stop Nova Prime from getting two significant stat boosts, one of which covered one of her weaknesses and the other of which tied her with Loki Prime for highest energy pool in the game. The real sign that things had gotten out of hand was when Volt Prime not only sextupled his armor, but also doubled his energy pool, putting him above even Loki Prime and Nova Prime. As of Update 16.11, we now have Ash Prime with three moderate stat boosts. Excalibur Prime, Ember Prime, and Frost Prime were later updated to have minor armor or shield buffs over their base variants, but they're still nowhere close to the improvements of later Prime Warframes.
    • Damage 2.0's scaling worked just fine when it was announced and still plays nicely until you get to enemies about level 50. Once you cross that threshold, however, enemies start to become Lightning Bruisers at all times. The Grineer in particular become nightmarish for being Nigh-Invulnerable if you don't have a way to strip their armor from them.
    • Energy system has suffered heavily from that. At the start, the only ways to restore energy were to pick up energy orbs from enemies, use a small consumable or have a Trinity. Abilities would cost a considerable chunk of your total energy pool and the potential to reduce energy costs was limited to a 30% decrease. Then, they added passive regeneration through Energy Siphon aura mod. Later, came larger consumables that could replenish your entire energy pool. Trinity got buffed to have a much more powerul and easy to use form of energy restoration. The aforementioned Prime Warframes started getting larger energy pools. Prime Flow mod allowed any Warframe to have more maximum energy. Corrupted Mods allowed you to reduce energy costs by up to 75%. Focus came with Zenurik school that had extra energy regen. Arcane Energize also allows bursts of energy. As a result, it is absolutely trivial to completely ignore energy costs entirely. And considering that the game has Energy as the only limiting factor of ability usage, it led to even the most powerful abilities becoming endlessly spammable. If in the past, full energy would give around 4-5 uses of your most powerful ability before you're out, later it got closer to 20 uses, with a couple of Large Energy Restore consumables refilling all of your energy in seconds.
  • Played straight between the first two Fallout games, where all the weapons in the original title were reused for the sequel. The presence of the heavily armored Enclave soldiers meant that classic heavy weapons like the Rocket Launcher, Flamer and Minigun were superseded by the accurate, devastatingly powerful Bozar as a reliable endgame loadout. Energy weapons received a similar treatment, with the rare Pulse Rifle receiving a special 80% Damage Threshold reduction perk that former standbys such as the Laser and Plasma Rifles lacked. In general, the endgame equipment of 1 is more like mid-lategame equipment in 2.
  • World of Warcraft used to have a problem with this with different gear of the same level. The level progression is almost endless — from one to 110 with the sixth Expansion Pack — so obviously old enemies and gear are going to become weak compared to the new. The problem, however, was that the new starting gear from an expansion would be more powerful than the max-level gear from the previous one. Most commonly used are three tiers of gear, Uncommon, Rare, and Epic, in order of increasing power. Starting from the first expansion, people used to say that mere Uncommon gear from the expansion was as powerful as Epics from the original game. This wasn't really true, but the new Uncommon was roughly the same as the old Rare; this gave more incentive to go into the new content, but it also removed incentive to eg. go through the trouble to craft some old Rare items or do some old quests. The same happened between the first and second expansion, and by the third one, it became true that the new Uncommons were as good as the previous Epics. After that, though, they revised all the power levels of everything in the game so that there was no longer any such gap with either the new expansions nor even the old ones. You still don't need to go to old raids to get powerful enough stuff to move into the next expansion, but if you've done it, you'll be overgeared at the start of the expansion.
    • One particular example came to life at the start of the seventh Expansion Pack, Battle for Azeroth. The current one gives players Artifacts, a whole set of different powerful weapons both in game and in story. The minute Battle for Azeroth is released, they became no more then a waypoint between level one and the up-to-date content. This was justified in-story by the player having sacrificed the power of their artifacts at the end of Legion.
    • This happened with Trinkets. During Classic, Trinkets were an extra equipment slot that held a variety of purposes. Some were little toys that did things like put a disguise on the player. Others did things like toss a boomerang that dealt damage or summoned a cannon that fired on nearby enemies. Others removed debuffs. Others were functionally useless but boosted stats. Others gave a temporary buff to the player. And some did a combination. Naturally, the stat-boosting and buff-granting (Especially if it was a combination of both) were the much more popular ones amongst the players, because why bother wasting time summoning a ghostly ally to fight alongside you for a couple seconds when you could just be attacking? And why bother carrying around that neat little toy that makes everyone around you dance if you can have something that makes you deal more damage? As a result of this, most trinkets at max level just temporarily buff the player and give stats, since players would much rather use a Stat Stick that's lower level than a max level trinket that just tosses a bomb at the enemy. Future expansions would sometimes feature toggleable effects, but would combine them with stat boosts so that they would see play, while moving the trinkets that were useless in gameplay to the "Toys" collection instead.
  • You get this in World of Tanks due to older tanks not being adjusted to new tank stats. For instance, the Super Pershing is a premium Tier 8 medium tank that used to be a decent choice in older builds of the game, trading agility and firepower for amazing frontal defenses. However, with the advent of fast, accurate tanks such as the Panther 58 Mutz and Patton Korea, as well as larger guns with ever-increasing penetration values, the Super Pershing is now considered one of the least favorable, least profitable of the Tier 8 premiums. This also happened to the KV-1 with the introduction of the O-I Experimental, a tank in the same league of armor and firepower but was a good 33% faster even though it was almost twice as heavy. To Wargaming's credit, they did try to buff the Super Pershing back to being a defensive powerhouse and nerfed the O-I series of tanks to make them less ridiculously potent, so they are at least aware enough of the trope to try and head it off.
    • As a whole, all vehicular combat games from Wargaming.Net — World of Tanks, World of Warships, and World of Warplanes — constantly have this problem, largely due to Wargaming's business model. The games are free to play, but players can spend money to buy premium vehicles, or to buy in-game currency to allow you to mostly skip the grind and quickly unlock the higher-tier tech tree vehicles and special equipment for your vehicles. What this means is, in order to maintain a continuous revenue stream, they must constantly introduce new premium vehicles and new tech trees to induce players to spend money, and there has to be something to make those new vehicles different from the existing ones and desirable. They can't make anything too overpowered compared to the current meta, or they risk alienating people who previously spent money on the game, but it's common to make each new thing just a little bit more powerful than the last... meaning the vehicles that have been in the game since the beginning get a little worse by comparison with every new addition. Every so often a blanket re-balance is undertaken but this rarely solves all of these problems. This has also become frustrating for gamers who are into the history of the vehicles in each game; as the developers run out of historical vehicles to add, they start turning to prototypes, never-built design studies, and in some cases purely fictional vehicles, which necessarily outperform the originals.
  • War Thunder suffered badly from this after the introduction of supersonic jets and modern tanks.
    • As the game added more Cold War planes, the game balance became skewed with newer aircraft outperforming the Korean War aircraft. When the F-100 and the MiG-19 were introduced, they simply outperformed any other jet that was in game at that time (even the Hunter F.1 and the CL-13 couldn't do much as they weren't fast enough to catch them). Then, missiles came, and while some subsonic jets got more competitive against supersonic jets (unless they ran out of missiles...), they became also frustrating opponents for those subsonic jets without missiles. Then the F-4 Phantom II came and even the F-100 became outperformed in every way. Thing is, in order to avoid getting a terribly long waiting time while searching for battles, tier matchmaking is compressed. Had the F-4 been put to fight only other F-4s or the MiG-21, then waiting times would have grown exponentially for players. So now for example you get the English Electric Lightning, which is a Mach 2 supersonic jet, at a battle rate of 9.7, the same for the Italian G.91 YS which is subsonic. Both have missiles, thus lowering the latter would cause it to face slower, underarmed Korean War jets.
    • Ground combat has went in a similar trajectory in higher tiers. The introduction of guided missiles with HEAT warheads made late World War 2 and Cold War-era heavy tanks obsolete as such rounds can cut through their thick armor like a hot knife through butter. Then the addition of modern tanks with composite and explosive reactive armor beginning with the T-64A and Chieftain Mk. 10 shifted the higher tier meta towards armor-piercing fin-stabilized ammunition, which are the only type of ammo capable of reliably penetrating new armor. At the same time, new features like gun stabilizers, night vision and thermal sights drastically altered the gameplay in favor of modernized vehicles.
  • The The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind has this happen in the expansion packs. For example, the natural enemies you encounter in Bloodmoon (such as wolves and bears) are as powerful as enemies you find inside the Ghost Fence in Vvardenfell, home of the 4000 year-old Physical God Big Bad. The expansion also contains some of the few weapons in the entire series which are stronger than Daedric.
  • Terraria has gone through several infrequent but major content updates, expanding the number and variety of items available to the player at almost every stage of progression. Unfortunately, in many cases the newly-introduced items are invariably superior to their contemporaries, though the degree to which this happens varies.
    • For instance, one update introduced Tin, Lead, Tungsten, and Platinum, ores which are functionally identical to the game's original Copper, Iron, Silver, and Gold ores - any recipe that calls for one will have an identical recipe that calls for the other, and produces the same result, such as a Gold Watch versus a Platinum Watch, which both do the same thing. In fact, a newly created world would randomly pick just one ore of each tier to generate with. Hardmode introduces another set of ores which have similar alternate mirrors that the game will randomly pick from. However, weapons and armor made of the alternate set of ores are strictly superior to the original ores.
    • Besides that, there's also a number of items which behave quite different from their old, in-tier cousins, but are nonetheless vastly superior. For instance, among Melee weapons, good early game weapons included Flails which could hit lots of enemies but were difficult to use, and Spears which were great for playing keep-away but had much less range than Flails. The Ice Blade was introduced later, and can be found randomly in chests at the very beginning of the game if you're brave/skilled enough to explore. Between its projectiles fired on swing, good DPS, autoswing, and ease of acquisition, the Ice Blade managed to completely blow every other pre-Hardmode melee weapon out of the water except, arguably, for the Infinity +1 Sword that requires a complicated crafting process to obtain and another sword that has a low chance of appearing in one of a handful of shrines that generate in a world.
    • And then Patch 1.3 came along and introduced Yoyos, with a behavior set and damage output that rendered every other melee weapon in the game almost completely obsolete, starting with the fact that they can effectively stunlock foes without effort and attack enemies around corners and through one-block-wide gaps with impunity.
    • The power creep in Terraria can be best exemplified through what was once the game's true Infinity +1 Sword; the Terra Blade. Creating through an extremely long crafting sequence spanning the entire game, the Terra Blade had extremely high DPS, a projectile attack and didn't cost any mana for it. An extremely useful weapon and very powerful at the time it was introduced... Then the Influx Waver was introduced. Higher base power, a projectile attack that hits enemies twice and it has around the same swing speed as the Terra Blade, without the need to go through the Chain of Deals to get it. All it takes is farming a boss from an event to get it... An event that opens up around the same time one would be able to craft the Terra Blade, effectively rending the Terra Blade useless!
    • As of, the Influx Waver has gone through that itself with the introduction of the Zenith, which is not only stronger than the previous two swords, but can also attack anything that the cursor aims at. In fact, the only use that the previous two swords have now is to serve as crafting ingredients for making the aformentioned Zenith.
  • Expansions for The Binding of Isaac have a tendency to introduce items that are objectively superior versions of items already in the game. The procedural generation keeps the old items relevant in lieu of better options showing up, but it does mean the power level of the average run has trended upwards with each expansion.
    • One example would be the case of flying - in the original game, getting the ability to fly was a rare ability only handed out by three items - Lord of the Pit, Transcendence, and the Pony. Of those three items, Lord of the Pit costs two red heart containers to obtain, Transcendence is one of the rarest items in the game, and the Pony takes up the active inventory slot that could be used to hold an item with a more helpful active effect. However, Wrath of the Lamb introduced four flying items that were either easier to obtain or came with additional benefits. By Rebirth onward, it was rarer for a run not to stumble upon at least one permanent flying item or transformation, making the initial flying items seem redundant.
    • The ability to carry more than one consumable was limited to Little Baggy and Starter Deck originally, which have the downsides of removing all cards/pills from the rest of the run unless the other was also obtained. Afterbirth added Deep Pockets, which unconditionally lets the player carry two consumables but is earned by playing a Secret Character who is a massive grind to unlock and easily the worst character in the game, making the reward well worth it. Then Afterbirth+ came along and added Polydactyly, which has the same effect as Deep Pockets, is a boss item instead of a shop item (so it can be obtained for free), is unlocked by default, and even spawns an extra pill or card on pickup. The other choices are kind of bad in comparison.note 
  • Fire Emblem Heroes has slowly developed this problem over time. Characters who were in the game at launch or released in early banners are generally outclassed by counterparts released later, due to newer characters having better stat spreads and more useful default skills and weapons. The devs occasionally update the weapons of old units to help bring them more in line with the current power curve, and the ability to give one character the skills or weapon of another can also help close the gap, but for some units even this can't make up for their weak stats. The later dragon flower mechanic that allows you to put in flowers for a buff in stats helps but even a fully invested, that means 10 merges and 15 dragon flower point boosts, year one unit just barely matches year 4 and beyond base stats.
    • For a good example, compare Fragile Speedster infantry sword units who were available early on with some released later. Lon'qu had 39 Speed, the highest in the game at launch, in exchange for middling to poor stats in other key areas. While he remained the fastest even as other infantry sword units came out that eclipsed him in actual combat ability, eventually Mia was released, a unit who not only had higher Speed at 40, but beat him in literally every stat except HP, and came with a powerful unique weapon and useful skills to boot. And even she was outdone by the arrival of Karla, who also had 40 Spd, but higher Attack and an even more powerful weapon. While Lon'qu eventually received a useful unique weapon of his own (enough to put him on Mia's level, in fact), he's still roundly outclassed by Karla (who ironically enough, has been outclassed by Mareeta, Sheena, and Larcei). And that's not mentioning what happened to poor Athena, who got powercreeped by 3 units of the same weapon and movement type, including Mia.
    • The upper limit of a unit's Base Stat Total (BST for short) can get ridiculous sometimes the later the game goes with the release of new heroes, with Serial Escalation levels of BST increases. For example, at the game's launch, 157~158 was the standard BST for "Gen 1" Infantry melee units at Level 40, but yearly increments since the first Choose Your Legends banner in September 2017 increase the BST by 6~7, and "Trainee" bonuses add an additional 4~5 BST. Using Corrin and all their Blue Dragon Infantry variants, Regular Corrin as a "Gen 1" unit has 157 BST, Adrift Male Corrin as a "Gen 2 Trainee" has 167 BST, Fallen Male Corrin as a "Gen 4 Trainee" has 177 BST, and Halloween Female Corrin as a "Gen 7 Trainee" has 193 BST. While Dragonflowers can increase the unit's stats to catch up, older units will still be left behind as the amount of boosts from Dragonflowers do not match up to the current Gen units.
    • The Fire Emblem series as a whole has experienced this over the years. In the early entries, dealing a low double-digit amount of damage per hit would often be considered solid damage output, and most enemies would have at most maybe 2-3 dozen HP on the hardest difficulty setting. The final boss might have 60-80HP, and your units' stats by endgame could comfortably be in the high teens to low twenties. As of the more recent entries, it is not unusual to hit for 30-50 damage in a single hit, not even factoring in mechanics like skills (e.g. bypassing defense stats, hitting 5 times at 0.5x damage each, etc.) critical hits, dual-strikes, Brave Weapons (which were once extremely limited but are now easily obtainable, and allow you to attack multiple times per combat round) and more. These factors can enable a player to literally deal hundreds of damage in one round of combat - utterly unthinkable several entries ago. Naturally, enemy stats have been inflated all around to compensate for this.
  • Bejeweled Blitz was hit pretty hard with this over the time of its existence. At the beginning, it was a simple match-three game with 1 minute to get a score. At that time getting over 500k was considered a feat. Then the coin system was added, and a boosts, which could be bought with those coins for three games each. This helped to get higher scores, but getting 1M was still almost impossible. Then they added gems, which are the straightest example of this trope - the first gem merely added three star gems at the beginning or a special score bonus, but now they have effect that essentially nukes the entire board for high score bonus, culminating with 'Blue Thunder' gem that allowed to score over 50 million with the boosts. Then the boosts became free, got stronger effect right from the beginning and each can be upgraded to level 11, with stronger effects. And finally it was sealed by adding new boosts, the latest of which, Quickfire, activates a Blazing Speed, making each match explode while giving ridicculous bonuses that you can score 50 million without the gem - which got stronger since the 'Blue Thunder' as well, meaning you can get over 300 million now.
  • Monster Hunter: World faced this through the game's free title updates. Each update introduced bigger and badder monsters, so stronger weapons and armor needed to be added to keep up, causing older gear to lag further behind.
    • The first update, Deviljho, featured weapons with the highest base raw damage in their weapon category, on par with the Diablos weapons but available for all weapon categories, along with high-level Elderseal and access to white Sharpness at any level of the Handicraft skill.
    • The second update, Kulve Taroth, added randomly-dropped relic weapons, some of which have damage, Sharpness, Affinity, Non-Elemental Boost compatability, and/or element beyond most craftable weapons, let alone their standard counterparts.
    • The third update, Lunastra, added weapons that not only had high Blast element, Affinity, above-average raw damage, and long natural white Sharpness, but wielding them granted Set Bonus skills, one of which is exclusive to the final boss. In the base game, natural white Sharpness is exclusive to low-raw weapons like those from Hornetaur, Legiana, Odogaron, and the final boss. On top of that, the update added the Temporal Mantle, which allows the wearer to temporarily No-Sell even the strongest attacks. The effort required to obtain these items borders on them being a Bragging Rights Reward, but there was more to come, making them less so.
    • The fourth update, Behemoth, added the Drachen armor set, one of the strongest sets in the series. It turns the user into an insane Critical Hit Class with attack and Affinity-boosting skills, increased crit damage, a lot of high-value slots, and to top it off a set bonus that prevents Sharpness loss upon landing a crit, a skill otherwise exclusive to Teostra's armor sets.
    • The last major shake-up, though not a title update, was Arch-Tempered Kulve Taroth's Kjarr weapons. These weapons had even better stats than the already fantastic Taroth weapons, on top of granting the Critical Element and Critical Status skills, the set bonus of the Rathalos and Zorah Magdaros armor sets. The skills didn't work at first due to a bug, but the weapons were still top-tier due to their stats.
    • In the base game, most Elderseal-imbued weapons are of Low or Average level, with High level being largely exclusive to Nergigante weapons. Every craftable Dragon-element weapon introduced in later updates has High-level Elderseal.
  • Total War: Warhammer got a case of this with the introduction of its sequel, Total War: Warhammer II.
    • All the new factions shot to the top of the tier lists in multiplayer, and their single-player units were also markedly better than similar-tier units in the Old World factions. The release of the Rise of the Tomb Kings Expansion Pack saw the new Tomb Kings immediately shoot to the top of the list until they were subsequently nerfed, and the Curse of the Vampire Coast's titular faction did the same upon release as well (with one unit, the Depth Guard, proving itself such a Game-Breaker in a tournament held to preview the DLC that it had to be put down for nerfs prior to the DLC's release). The The Prophet and the Warlock expansion pack, predictably, did the same thing to the Lizardmen and the Skaven upon release, with some of their new ranged options seeing them immediately take place amongst the top tier of factions (the earlier The Queen and the Crone having avoided this mainly due to High and Dark elves already being the two top armies at time of its release).
    • When it comes to the Skaven, The Prophet and the Warlock was also the start of the creep being applied to singleplayer as well. Previous to it, Skaven were playable and decent but somewhat underwhelming, in that they lacked most of their more iconic units. But the DLC brought them so many powerful units and in-depth mechanics that, by the developper's own admission, the following Skaven halves of the next DLCs "had" to be as equally powerful and unbalanced to not make their Skaven content feel lesser that that of Prophet and Warlock, which meant that less attention was spend on the other half of the DLC, and other factions feeling unfavoured as a result.
    • Poor Bretonnia was a victim of the power creep as well (with their niche of powerful cavalry at the expense of a mediocre roster otherwise), finding itself beaten at its own game by other races as the updates piled on and Bretonnia only recieved minor tweaks. To boot, The Empire had roughly equivalent cavalry but an extremly flexible and adaptable roster otherwise, The Wood Elves had equally powerful cavalry and middle-of-the-road infantry but amazing archers, Slaanesh and Khorne and their assorted Warriors of Chaos possessed better cavalry and the best infantry in the games, and Kislev fielded better cavalry with their Gryphon Legion and War Bears Riders and their infantry is nothing to scoff at. The third game's 3.1 update finally buffed Bretonnia to be the cavalry faction, eight years after their initial release.
  • The Mobile Phone Game Final Fantasy Brave Exvius has had a lot of problems in this regard like other games created by Gumi/Alim. Part of the problem is that there are two versions of the game — the Japanese one, which came out first, and the Global one, which hit about nine months later. The fact that Global players can "see into the future" by spying on the JP version makes it clear that Gumi and Alim are deliberately employing Serial Escalation to drive player retention and monetization. The problem comes when the Global team decide they want to throw a Spanner in the Works. In 2019 two characters, Esther the bunny-eared swordswoman and Quirky Miniboss Squad member Zeno the Beta Star, were released into the Global version in quick succession; they were so far ahead of the power curve that they not only deformed the Global metagame, they would have done so in Japan as well. Consequently, a number of highly-anticipated Global characters — new versions of Lightning and Bartz, Original Generation character Akstar, and a bunch of other people who aren't Purposely Overpowered — were obsolete before they were released. The fans made their displeasure known loudly.
    • The shift in damage dealing and skills, when compared from game's release to 4 years after, is extremely staggering. TO demonstrate this, one of the earliest known way to deal most physical damage is either with dualwielding coupled with skills or equipment that enable two normal attacks or with barrage, a single-digit modifier skill that enable four consecutive normal attacks. With addition of multicast, chaining, and chaining familiesnote , casting skills with 30x modifier or more multiple times has become the norm.
    • The existence of True Dual Wield and True Doublehand marks the start of high stat which increase equipment stat when holding two weapons or one weapon in two hands respectively. Before them, reaching 1000 in ATK or MAG is a big achievement. With those skills (considering that equipment stat are the same), however, ATK and MAG can go so high the bare minimum ATK and MAG a character must have to be considered remotely useful is around 2000 or more.
  • Mobile phone spin-off Yo-kai Watch: Puni Puni has gotten bad about this. Originally featuring the standard six E-S ranks from the 3DS games, they would later add a rank above S, the SS rank. This would end up being the norm for a while, until they added the alternate univrse Enmas and made them SSS ranks. SSS would be the new normal, until the end of the Extreme Yo-kai events with the introduction of their leader Rin-ne and his Z rank. Z ranks would also be the first to break the level cap from 50 to 60, as well as the Attack and HP stats breaking 999. Z ranks have become frequent enough to fill entire pages of the Medallium. As of 2020, there's now ZZ rank Yo-kai, furthering the power gap. Then in 2021, they introduced the ZZZ rank.
  • The mobile game Jurassic World: The Game has this in spades. Originally, the strongest dinosaur out there was the T-Rex. After that came the tournament dinosaurs, which were at least understandable due to their rarity. Not long after that came the Hybrids, the most powerful of which was as strong as a T-Rex at level 10, and grew strong enough to one-hit-Kill them at level 40. Now, we have VIP dinosaurs, which are as powerful as some Hybrids, Tournament Dinosaurs for which the same goes, Super-Hybrids made with S-DNA, and finally Tournament Hybrids. To give an idea of how ridiculous this gets, the Yudon has 14K health. The T-Rex has 1.6K.
  • The Super Smash Bros. series has run into this problem with its playable fighters: characters who debuted in earlier games tend to have far more simplistic and inaccurate movesets compared to those who debuted in later games whose movesets tend to not only be much better constructed and accurate, but have unique mechanics not found in earlier fighters. While some of the older fighters have received minor moveset updates, they still stick out when compared to the newer characters. However, Smash Bros is also a subversion in the sense that older characters receive buffs that allows them to keep up with newcomers, and while they may not have the flashy new mechanics of newcomers, for some, their move kit allows them to accomplish their niche in the metagame without anything too absurd.
  • Fate/Grand Order uses a fair bit of this. In general, launch Servants tend to have skills that only do one thing (increase the charge of their Limit Break, increase the power of certain attack types, buff their attacking power, heal themselves or their allies), while later-run Servants will rarely have less than two such benefits on a single skill, unless the single benefit is insanely strong. Later Servants also tend to have considerably more synergistic kits, where previously they would be more of a grab bag of skills without a real focus, and the hit counts on attacks have also gone up (most launch characters have two-hit attacks at most, while later characters tend to range from three to four, or even higher). The actual numbers have mostly stayed the same (attack buffs usually top out at 50% or so, for instance), it's just that it's become a lot easier to build up lots of such bonuses. That said, Strengthenings which buff the abilities of faltering Servants are quite common, usually by adding secondary bonuses onto previously undertuned skills, and can often push a once-mediocre character into the limelight. Paracelsus, for instance, went from borderline worthless to one of the best free characters in the game when his targeted Last Chance Hit Point skill had a significant charge gain skill attached to it.
  • Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the nature of the game, played straight in Puyo Puyo Quest. Once upon a time, 5 stars were as high as the character cards' power ratings went; currently, the game is at 7 stars with the characters' potential stats at 7-Star being close to double their potential at 5-Star.
  • Unlike the above, Marvel Puzzle Quest, has kept 5 stars as the highest tier. However, given the influx of new characters is steady (2 every month), and since 2017 they're always 4 or 5 star ones, this means new characters often outclass ones that have been there for years, particularly those hit by Nerfs along the way. And it can get surprising for which characters, as 5* is not only truly Story-Breaker Power characters from the comics (two of the first five were Silver Surfer and Jean Grey as Phoenix...) but also those with Popularity Power (...alongside Old Man Logan...) and tie-ins to the Marvel Cinematic Universe ( Iron Man and Captain America for Captain America: Civil War), meaning Badass Normal Okoye hits harder than many of the X-Men.
  • Absolutely all over Onmyoji. First and foremost, in a game where for the most part Power Equals Rarity, the developers have completely stopped making R rarity shikigami altogether, and barely release any SRs any more (maybe 1-2 per year at most). Meanwhile, new SSR tier shikis come out practically monthly, and half the time every new SSR is stronger than the last; the once-dreaded Onikiri was just the tip of the iceberg. Things got worse still with the release of the ultra-rare SP tier, upgraded versions of previously-released shikis (usually SSRs, but occasionally SRs like Hannya, Kingyo and Ubume) which were originally merely "different" from their original forms rather than strictly stronger (such as Ootengu Jr. and Crimson Yoto-Hime), but eventually degraded into just ever more jaw-dropping Game-Breaker status with the likes of Demoniac Shuten Doji and Monumental Otakemaru. Their kits also got more and more and more complicated as well, with every new release having half a dozen unique buffs and debuffs and overlapping effects and ways to enable alternate skills for them until it's enough to make your head spin.
    As a final insult, when a new SSR or SP is released, players who already have a full collection of that rarity get a massive boost to their chance of summoning the new shiki- meaning the players who are already ahead of everyone else gets to STAY ahead more easily, while those who haven't completed their collection yet simply Can't Catch Up as another thing they need to (randomly) collect gets tossed on the pile. This isn't quite so bad if the new SSR or SP is one of the more restrained ones (like Guardian Ubume), but if it's one of the ones who instantly takes over the meta and becomes a "use me or die" pick, they're screwed.
  • Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time updates itself with newer premium plants, many of which outclass the free plants, or even other Premium Plants! The Grapeshot explodes exactly like a Cherry Bomb, but also spawns 8 powerful Hyper-Destructive Bouncing Ball projectiles. Then there's the Bonk Choy, a free Close-Range Combatant that rapidly attacks zombies on the square in front of or behind it. It is outclassed by the premium Wasabi Whip, which deals more damage and has 2-square range. This is then outclassed by the later premium Headbutter Lettuce, which has 1.5 tiles range, but deals even more damage, can stun zombies outright with butter, and also has more health to boot.
  • This happened in Guild Wars, albeit in a more PvE example. Many missions in Prophecies were super duper difficult back in 2005 - but after Factions, Nightfall, and Eye Of The North's addition of heroes (who are much more customisable henchmen), skills, classes, and even PvE only skills, it got significantly easier. The only exception however was the doppelganger - who, despite being very exploitable, learned to use skills that were cornerstones of certain Game-Breaker builds to an almost scary level.
  • Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando evokes this in-universe with the five returning Gadgetron weapons: while they're decent when you get them in the early game, they're authentic to the original Ratchet & Clank (2002) in that they cannot upgrade. This means they're completely unable to keep up with the increasing health and damage enemies get over the course of the game, and so they quickly become useless. This is part of the reason why one of the Skill Points to clear the enemies out of a specific level with Gadgetron weapons is disliked, because that level is a third into the game: by that point they deal scratch damage to even the foot soldiers, forcing constant trips back to the vendor.
  • Jak 3 averts this: while it triples the weapon loadouts for the Morph Gun, many of them work entirely differently from the rest and thus don't subvert their place. The one exception is the Beam Reflexor: it's the Blaster only the shots reflects off enemies and walls, removing the need to be very particular about aiming. Buy the mods to increase the amount of times it can rebound and remove each one costing a shot of ammo, and there's literally no reason to ever use the normal Blaster ever again. Did we mention you get it within the first three hours of the game?
  • The Battle Cats:
    • This trope is averted surprisingly often for Uber Rares. Often, new Ubers will be given deliberately bad stats so they aren't more powerful than the others in their set, and then made competitive with the rest of them when their true forms are released. However, this doesn't always happen, with Sea Serpent Daliasan being much more powerful than the other, older Dragon Emperors, even without its true form.
    • It's played straight, however, with cats designed for certain enemy types and mechanics. A good example is Zombie enemies, which have the ability to burrow under your frontlines and revive when killed. When they were first released, the power level of anti-Zombie cats was low, with the best non-Uber counters being either very unreliable (Gardener Cat), or having an Arbitrary Weapon Range that their burrows could exploit (Vaulter Cat), and Zombies were thus considered one of the hardest enemy types. Later updates steadily added more reliable anti-Zombie units and tools, like Welterweight Cat to knock them back to your frontlines, Li'l Flying Cat to deal good damage to some melee Zombies, and the Holy Blast cannon to unburrow them and deal huge damage. Zombies became especially powercrept when two new anti-Zombie tools were introduced: Vaulter Cat's true form, Housewife Cat, gained a Savage Blow talent that made her way better than other anti-Zombie ranged attackers like Cataur; and Cadaver BearCat was introduced, a nearly strictly better version of Li'l Flying Cat able to deal massive damage to, or even One-Hit Kill, many burrowing Zombies. With these units obtainable surprisingly early in the game, Zombies are now far easier to deal with than they were at launch.