Garbage Loot Needs To Stay In The Trash


I’m on a grinding spree, purging Elwynn Forest of wildlife to assert humanity's dominance in the virtual world. But my rampage comes to a groaning halt. My bags are full, littered with junk items titled in smoky grey—a color reserved for only the most useless garbage. I have no choice. Opening my bag I destroy with the same ferocity I showed the wolves. And return to the grind, only to be halted once more when my limited bag space is overflowing with waste.

Garbage loot is an outdated standard that is as offensive as the Great Pacific garbage patch; developers are choking me with a 6 pack ring. It serves nearly zero purpose in every MMORPG. Quests reward you with spangled Green items in the first twenty minutes of play, sending Grey and White loot into the bonfire rather than the recycling bin. Why? Why are my bags bogged down with drivel? The same bland items have been hanging off wolf coats for over a decade.

There’s no economic purpose. Junk loot sell for pittance compared to any colorfully decorated gear. And at level 15 I could care less about filling my wallet with copper coins that aren't enough to buy Oliver Twist another bowl of gruel. It’s a waste of time to run to a vendor, to sell items before heading back out into the forest, shattering immersion like a broken wine glass at a Mensa dinner party. I play games to forget I have dishes to wash not accrue more menial tasks. I would rather pick up the equivalent of junk loot’s value in copper, silver, or—unlikely—gold. What can be done?

Deconstructing junk for resources is one way to circumvent ineffectiveness. If I can transmogrify “Iron Sword” into its constituent parts and use them to raise my Alchemy skill then I don’t feel weighed down. Further made robust if no vendor sells the required materials, giving keen players an incentive to monetize their acquisitions. But it's a mechanic rarely instituted. Final Fantasy 14 has a desynthesis skill, but it’s also a rare game that promotes crafting as a progression pathway. Whereas many titles slap on crafting like scratch and sniff stickers accentuating a notebook.

Ultima Online handles junk loot perfectly. There isn’t any. Because the differences between basic gear and great gear are minute. Even a skeleton’s dropped Katana serves a practical purpose. Ganked by Stone Harpy's, my loot viscera splattered the cave walls. But equipped with random item-drops I marched back into the Harpy Nest, slayed the West Side Story reenactment, and reacquired my loot. But the modern MMORPG prides itself on an insane disparity between beginner’s gear and end-game equipment, rendering every former item useless the moment a quest rewards you with iridescent labels.

There is only one reason to weigh down my playthrough with bile junk. Tired of being halted at the gates of routine Spring cleaning? Then be sure to pay Charon a penny. Bag space has been commodified. And monetizing the number of slots through an arbitrary limitation and then filling bagspace with auto loot junk is a way to incentivize conversion. It's a grimy methodology. I'll keep sending my stinking loot to landfill hell.

Developers ought not be afraid to challenge orthodox norms, or abandon them outright. Besides pranking friends in Diablo 3 and taking a step towards completing blasé achievements, garbage loot is a waste of effort—unless the MMORPG monetizes bag spaces and pesters players with inordinate rubbish to persuade expanded slots in exchange for cash. But it’s a tired system. Don’t waste player time with loot designed for sale. Every item should serve some end in and of itself, not be a means to pennies misplaced without care. While recycling is a noble cause, garbage loot needs to stay in the trash.

From Mega Man II to Ape Escape, I've been playing games for as long as I can remember. I've spent months killing porings in Ragnarok Online and more recently lived a second life in Eve Online. I usually play as gUMBY, gUMBLEoni, or gUMBLes in-game.

  • John Park

    I kind of agree but it is your choice to pick up garbage loot or not. If I wanted to get as much money as I can, I would pick it up and sell it later. Action RPG games like Diablo is let off easier than MMORPG games since they give you so much loot for beating a dungeon or a boss that you can't possibly pick up everything even if it's good loot. Looting is your choice so if you don't like picking up garbage loot, don't. If you reach end game in any RPG game, you won't most if not every loot drop you get since your gear is better than anything that drops. I think garbage loot is not a problem at all, on the contrary, I think garbage loot can serve some purpose if you're grinding for money or you're wanting to look like a badass not picking up any loot.

    • My issue is that I don't want to stop to sort through loot. I want to pick up and keep going, grinding with the flow. The less downtime, the happier I am. It serves a purpose when its used as a means to something else like crafting. But that's rarely the case. And trading in dook loot for pennies is distracting. Im "built to grind," not pick up garbage to recycle ^_^

  • Enemies shouldn't drop garbage loot, you're 100% right. It makes NO sense. This problem is so easily solved too: just make enemies drop more gold. I think games add garbage loot to encourage players to buy those extra bag slots ~_~

    • Yep. Skyforge does this, missions fill your inventory with junk purposely to get you to buy more space. Super annoying that games are no longer happy with 60 bucks up front, they want to milk you forever.

  • Shock Trooper

    "It’s a waste of time"

    That's the point. These mechanics exist in lieu of actual content. Developers know that if you spend a bunch of time on menial tasks, they can artificially inflate your game time and thus make more money.

  • Bruno Anghene

    yeah i hate garbage loot. while it feels satisfying to empty your whole inventory for a bunch of gold at once, its gets in the way in the long run.

    Games these days are too easy. If the numbers are green, equip it. If its red, sell it or salvage. Where is the mystery in games? While Mortal Online is overall a pretty bad game imo, it handles loot alot better than most games. Every item has a use and its often hidden from the player so you might want to keep it for later use. Its kinda makes sense too. If you had a piece of stone in your hands, but in reality its a rare material used for crafting powerful weapons, you wouldn't know it unless you read a book about it or paid a crafting NPC to teach you.

    In general i just feel the RPG elements are missing more and more in games. in the end, role-playing is still half of "MMORPG" right? And garbage loot to me is the opposite of the immersion that a good RPG should provide in-game.

  • Sapheric

    i like how i can just send to "i dont know where" my craft stuff in gw2, in the other hand i have few chars in tera with inventory full, i just log, see inventory, dont know what to do and log off....

    arpgs are other story... in d3 you have like what?...6 craft mats? but for example in poe they have lots of loot: currency, gear, unique gear, cards, item skills, etc.. and they monetize that with stash tabs and currency stash tab. if you just play casual/first time/seasons you are fine, but if you play constantly and altholicing... well prepare to spend money

  • .?.

    I've been playing MMO's since 2000 and yeah garbage in some games seem more excessive than other games. Sometimes the garbage pays well, but most of the time it's a backpack filler. And Remotay is right, it's just so you buy more space and spend more money.