What does Nerf mean in gaming?

To lessen in strength or effect

In the world of gaming, ‘Nerf’ refers to the action of making something less powerful or effective. This term is often used when game developers decide to reduce the power of overpowered (op) characters, items, or abilities through game updates, also known as patches. This is done to keep the game fair and balanced for all players.

For instance, in the popular game Dota 2, the developers frequently nerf the abilities and stats of strong heroes to make sure they’re not too dominant compared to others. This helps to keep the game exciting and competitive.

Various types of online games like MOBAs (similar to Dota 2), MMORPGs, RTS games, and even FPS games that receive periodic updates or patches, often see nerfs to certain characters, items, or abilities. This helps to keep the gameplay fresh and balanced.

The term ‘nerf’ actually started as a joke among players of the game Ultima Online. Players complained that decreases in weapon power turned their mighty steel swords into soft, harmless NERF foam bats. And so, the term ‘nerf’ was born.

Example for using ‘Nerf’ in a conversation

Hey, have you played the new update of League of Legends?

Yeah, I heard they nerfed some champions. Did they weaken anyone you play?

They actually nerfed my main character’s abilities. It’s not as strong as before.

That’s too bad. Hopefully, it’ll balance out the game.