Is PvP really just for the hardcore?!

Earnest Cavelli writes an opinion piece in Wired’s blog where he rants about how MMORPGs have run out of ideas and are only including more PvP to keep the vocal hardcore fan happy.

What utter toss.

He loses me right at the beginning with the comment: Even long-standing, well-respected games such as space opera MMO EVE Online have shown a renewed interest in the phenomenon. EVE, in case anyone doesn’t know, is and has always been one of the most cut-throat PvP games on the market. The no holds barred nature of 0.0 space AND the ability to opt out from gaming there if you don’t want to PvP is one of the game’s biggest draws. So no surprise really if they’ve decided to focus on PvP for their next expansion.

You only have to look at the popularity of PvP servers in WoW to see that a large proportion of players not only enjoy occasional PvP but like it so much that any associated issues (like being ganked by high levels) don’t put them off.

As a form of endgame, it’s also relatively cheap compared to creating and stocking new dungeons or areas to explore. Players can literally entertain themselves.

I don’t understand why Cavelli thinks that adding better PvP will result in games that only appeal to a tiny minority. The examples he gives of earlier, smaller games LACKED PvP or implemented it very badly (Ultima Online was notorious for this, back in the day). So of course a lot of people who tried it then hated it. But then again, I also don’t understand why he thinks that MMORPGs evolved from online shooters (clue-by-4: They didn’t, they evolved from MUDs.)

PvP, when it’s done well, is terrifically attractive to players in a MMORPG environment. Forming up into a fighting army with a load of friends and heading off to attack an enemy base or just throw yourselves at another zerg is good fun. Fighting other players will always have an edge to it that fighting monsters never can. Especially if you see names you recognise and can rib them about it afterwards in the game or on forums or IRC.

It’s not just the hardcore who PvP. Most players will try it out. And there is definitely scope for improvements in MMORPG PvP and I’m excited to see developers recognise this and try to address it.

3 Responses

  1. I decided to just comment instead of editing the post.

    I read this article and it got me hopping mad, even at 4am (don’t even ask why I was up then, but it MAY be Lost-related).

    “Can these games really succeed based on players’ desire to kill each other” – he really, totally just doesn’t get it. And lumping all PvP in together is rather short-sighted too.

    I’ve never had a lot of respect for people who jump to conclusions about gamers or gaming when they obviously haven’t ever really tried it out for themselves, or certainly not enough to really understand what they’re writing about. He’s obviously thought of a good tagline about how PvP obviously appeals to the same people as fps so all MMOs will focus on it from now on. Or looking for some link between AoC and WAR – the link is really a strong-ish IP and developers who want to respect their setting, and try something other than WoW.

  2. Essentially, he has neglected to consider the difference between consensual and free-for-all PvP. Sure, AoC and WAR offer large PvP components because many MMORPG players do enjoy that style of play, but both games were designed from the ground up to be completely playable without ever engaging in PvP.

    In AoC, it’s possible to choose a PvE server where PvP is consigned to minigames (like WoW’s battlegrounds) and the Border Kingdoms (PvP region where guilds can build keeps and wage siege warfare). The vast majority of the game’s content is PvE, unless you make the deliberate choice to roll on a FFA PvP server.

    A fundamental design goal of WAR is also that players will be able to choose between either a PvE or PvP experience, or whatever mixture of the two they are comfortable with. They will still be able to contribute to the war effort without ever stepping inside of a PvP area, and indeed, there will be plenty of PvE content to explore, such as a distinct levelling path for each race and hundreds of public quests. In fact, there won’t even be an option for a FFA PvP server in WAR, such is EA Mythic’s dedication to the PvE/PvP demarcation that is inherent in RvR.

    In respect of PvP, AoC and WAR are no different from WoW, where the decision on whether or not to engage in PvP is left entirely in the players hands, and where at least 50% of the development focus, and usually much more, is on PvE content.

    And what developer would be crazy enough to launch an MMORPG without a PvP element? Turbine were planning to with LotRO, but then added the Ettenmoors PvMP area late in development, and it has turned out to be one of the most successful aspects of the game. For a significant proportion of PvMP players (a majority?), it was their first PvP experience, and will probably have many hooked on the chaotic fun of large scale PvP for life.

  3. […] Book of Grudges asks the question we’ve all wondered: “Is PvP really just for the hardcore?” […]

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