In the Lord of the Rings, Frodo gets a special magical sword and a magic ring. Frodo has no special abilities when he doesn't have these items. When Dungeons and Dragons was being made they kept this in mind by creating a gear system, because it suited the genre. The gear system soon drifted away from each player having one or two special items to having the maximum number of items and turning them in for new ones often. Eventually players wanted to make their own gear, and DM's obliged because it suited the genre. When MMO's came about, they copied this system exactly, because it suited the genre. Let me say this plainly, gear doesn't suit the superhero genre. Batman does not rifle through the Joker's pockets for cash after he beats him. Thor doesn't trade in his hammer for better one every five raids. Superman doesn't talk to Martian Manhunter about how much he needs the new chest plate or how he needs a new left ring. Spawn doesn't say, "Hey guys, wait up! I have to free up some inventory.". Spider-man doesn't swing around the city looking for crafting ingredients. Hellboy doesn't spend time trolling the exchange looking for a good deal on mithiral.
Here is a plain list of the benefits of doing away with gear
1. No grinding for a special piece of gear
2. No inventory to manage
3. No exchange to waste time on
4. No crafting materials to gather
5. No returning to town to sell off your loot
6. No secret chests to try and find
7. No bickering over need/greed/pass
8. No stopping the mission to see what special item you received
9. No crafting skill to level up
10. No merchants to deal with
11. You get to feel like a superhero, not a medieval mercenary who is desperately looking for coins
12. Instead of developing all the gear stats and names, chests, drops, etc, developers can work on actual content updates.
13. More consistent power levels between characters of the same level
14. Players feel like they are getting more powerful instead of just putting on a more powerful outfit
So what's the alternative?
XP. Throughout the game when the characters level up, they get the stat bonuses they normally would get for getting more gear. When they reach end game, the player would pick one of several different stat trees that would confer the same bonuses that end game gear would give. These trees could fall within the confines of the trinity of tank/dps/healer or they could be a little more exotic, like a tree based on Wolverine like regeneration or Ms Marvel power absorption. This would mean that players would just play the game. They wouldn't be stuck in que for one particular type of Mark or gear. They wouldn't try to skip enemies in a dungeon. They can unlock what they want with XP from anywhere and everywhere. You could even set up the system so you could que which item you want next, so when you level up you can keep playing without stopping to fumble with your abilities.
What do you think? Is gear worth all the hassle? Is there something I'm not seeing?