Modulational instability is an efficient mechanism for the generation of rogue waves in the limit of narrow-banded and long-crested wave fields. While such wave fields are easily achieved in laboratories, there appears to be lacking evidence that known occurrences of rogue waves in the ocean (e.g. Draupner “New Year” wave, Andrea wave) or ship accidents that could have been provoked by rogue waves (e.g. the Prestige accident) actually happened in sea states favorable for the modulational instability to have played an important role. The absence of modulational instability does not mean that nonlinear interactions are unimportant. Here we point out recent results that suggest large deviations from Gaussian statistics can happen due to nonlinearity in the absence of modulational instability, the key ingredient seems to be that the wave field is brought into a state of non-equilibrium.