I've had a discussion on the internet about game balancement. Actually, this was a Pokemon fansite, and the discussion started from a simple observation that some pokemon are OP while others are outright bad.
Now I know that Pokemon is a peculiar game... Still, I believe, this topic can be easily generalized to almost any competitve multiplayer game.
Namely, most people were making the argument that while Pokemon gameplay is very inbalanced, it is a good thing, because a perfectly balanced gameplay is inherently boring and dull.
Let me try to quote some of their arguments, (redacting them so that they become more readable outside of chat):
It'd just turn into a game of "lets use my favourite pokemon yayayay". The only thing that would matter than would be type matchups. Or, if the tank/glass cannon diversity was retained, then a team full of tanks would always win.
Pokemon is inherently unbalanced and that's what makes it interesting IMO.
"Optimal" gameplay, for anything, always becomes boring. What's fun to see is to see niche pokemon and gimmicks. There will always be something better that what you say is the best.
You could just make every pokemon 100 across the board and identical everything. Of course, that loses the point of the game.
Being able to use a "bad" mon well is one of the coolest things. There's an optimal team that wins a lot but cteaming exists and you can't really make it un-exist. It's always more fun to win with a stall team than a real shoot em up team.
Perfect games becomes boring, not optimal gameplay. If everyone plays well, there's nothing wrong with that; but if everyone has a perfect team, then what?
That goes right in the face of what I always believed about game balancement. In short, I believed that, regardless of the game's genre: If we have a mon, or unit, or champion, or whatever, which is known to have little to no place in any competetively viable strategy (the Pokemon case) or, if we have a "meta", that is, a strategy that is, in general, the only competetively viable strategy (the League of Legends case), then this is what makes gameplay dull and boring, since it clearly, almost by definition, greatly reduces the pool of viable picks and strategies; and that game designers ought to avoid these pitfalls. Thus, a "perfect" game should have many viable picks, each different than another but none clearly useless, (that is, we should avoid the situation that if one wants to pick A, picking B instead will always be a better idea - some picks may and should be niche and/or situational though), that can be mixed in a plethora of ways to make a plethora of different, but viable teams, thus creating a plethora of different, but viable strategies (this doesn't mean that each team is equivalent or that a team assembled randomly is viable; teams can still be good or bad, but we should avoid the situation that there is only one viable prescription for a good team).
However, what I was being told seems to boil down to something opposite. The people I quoted seemed to think that good balancement of a game can only be achieved at the cost of making all possible picks equivalent, to the point of making it matterless what to pick. They also seemed to think that therefore, in such a scenario, an obvious winning strategy would inevitably emerge, making the game trivial.
Is it really true that a game can only be well balanced if it sacrifices all of its diversity? Is it really true that getting rid of useless picks can only be achieved at the cost of introducing a trivial winning strategy??