This Wired article is making the rounds on various blogs, and as it focuses on griefing, which is somewhat related to PvP, I figured I would throw in my two cents. Go read the article first, if nothing else it’s an interesting piece.
The biggest ‘news’ out of the whole thing seems to be the intent of the Goons in EVE Online to not only destroy your ship, but to make you quit the game itself. Many people are viewing this as exactly the reason no sane developer would let such PvP exist; who wants to lose accounts and money, right? The somewhat ironic thing is that EVE Online, a 4 year old game that had a horrible launch, no marketing budget, and is limited in its appeal due to being Sci-Fi and terribly difficult to get into at the start, is still growing at a very healthy rate. Go look at what MMOs launched around the same time as EVE, and see how many of them are still growing or even maintaining their numbers.
So how is it that a game which allows players to abuse others and to beat them to the point where they quit is still growing? Has WoW not taught us that unless we give everyone access to everything in a no risk solo manner, we are doomed to fail miserably? Sure the slaughter of ‘sheep’ worked in 98 with Ultima Online, but we have grown since then, all the ‘sheep’ have options now, and they won’t stand to be butchered. As soon as the first sign of unwanted danger arises, they cancel their account and jump ship, leaving that game to slowly rot and die, right?
Yes, some do get frustrated and quit. It would be foolish to think otherwise and clearly this type of game is not for everyone. But how many players have downloaded the trial for EVE because they have heard or read about the incredible stuff players are doing in EVE? How many read the story about the bank heist, or heard about a titan being destroyed in an epic battle, and said ‘that’s awesome, let me give that game a shot’. Can you say the same thing about the first time Onyxia was killed, or the first time someone completed an epic armor set in WoW? How many players signed up for the WoW trial because of some guild’s raid progression or high ranking Arena team? And all those stories are products of EVE’s design, a design which gives such great freedom to its players. Take away that freedom, and you quickly take away every great moment in that games very rich history, a history which has no doubt created more paying accounts than it has destroyed. In gaming, just like in life, freedom is a double edged sword. Some will find ways to abuse it, while others will embrace it and creating unexpected and positive results. The real question is, are you a communist (WoW player) or a free thinking man/woman (EVE)? (bets on who will fail to see that as a joke anyone?)
And before everyone points out that WoW has 10 billion users, let’s just remember that WoW is a phenomenon that is as much a product of timing as it is of game design. A far more accurate comparison would be something like EQ2 or LoTRO numbers, which are still higher, but not in a hundreds of thousands vs millions way. Oh and before this turns into another PvP vs PvE debate, keep in mind I’m not saying all PvE games should be burned and destroyed, but rather that the market supports both styles in a financially viable way. Had WoW not gotten lucky, perhaps both styles would be viewed as equally viable models, but that’s an entirely different post…