A Balancing Act

The best video games are not perfectly balanced

Ben Stokman
OneTwentyEight Blog
2 min readSep 19, 2018


Anyone who has played a multiplayer game that is updated with new items and features has probably blamed the game being unbalanced as the reason for them loosing. Many people later admit to themselves that it was their fault, but sometimes, even in the most balanced of videogames, players can have the odds steeply against them.

It’s not that this is on purpose, it’s just an inevitability of fun games.

Videogames are difficult to balance, especially complicated ones — there is always another way for a player to gain a slight advantage over the other players, as an example:


Team Fortress Two is my all-time favorite game, due to its mechanics and gameplay versatility. There are nine different classes, countless different weapon loadouts for all nine, and hundreds of maps; each combination one completely different playstyle, if not more than one.

TF2’s diversity is exactly what makes it hard to balance.

Even if the TF team takes into account each and every weapon combination for each class, there are problems with combining a loadout with another class with a certain loadout, like uberchaining, or combining Demonight with a Vaccinator to get a 425 hp train that takes no damage.

And even if all two-class issues are removed, what about three? four?

It’s impossible, there will always, under any circumstance, be a better playstyle.

But TF2 shoudn’t be balanced, nor should any videogame.

Videogame creators often[sometimes unintentionally] combat by adding uncertainty and unbalance to their games. I know, this seems counter-productive, but it isn’t — because videogames will always have a “meta”, there must be situations where “the meta” isn’t always the most powerful, due to unpredictable game scenarios.

Without randomness in videogames, there would always be a best strategy, loadout, team composition, etc. With randomness, that changes, allowing players to enjoy the game differently without being at a disadvantage. Maybe the map requires a more long-distance playstyle, or a boss battle requires a high-damaging, low time attack, or a team that you’re playing against is very prone to flanking.

As much as I hate getting killed by a random critical, or getting crappy luck with looting, I will always prefer it to being forced to boring, stagnant, gameplay.



Ben Stokman
OneTwentyEight Blog

Video Game lover and privacy advocate