It’s ok to hate bad PvP, but have you played good PvP?

What if Warhammer PvP is something PvE players do end up liking? I mean, if EQ PvP is your only example of PvP, I don’t blame you for hating PvP. Same goes for WoW PvP. Two PvE games that tried to add PvP as an extra, and in turn made a lot of people really hate PvP.

What if a lot of those ‘PvE only’ players see what decent PvP is like in WAR, and actually enjoy it? Word spreads to their PvE only buddies, and down the snowball rolls.

The major problem with the perception of PvP in MMO’s is that the biggest games had really, really awful PvP, and in turn PvP-focused MMOs were themselves bad games. EQ1 and WoW are the two big PvE games, and both had horrid PvP systems tacked on to PvE games. Shadowbane and Fury were both ‘PvP focused’, yet both were crippled by numerous issues not at all related to PvP. A bad MMO is a bad MMO, regardless if its a PvP or PvE game. Same goes for a good MMO. Even PvP diehards have likely played WoW simply because it’s a good MMO.

What is possibly unique about Warhammer Online is that, from all accounts so far, it’s a good MMO and it’s PvP focused. That’s never happened in MMO land on a mass market scale. The good news is WAR is looking very solid, the bad news is it has the ‘PvP’ stigma to overcome. The difference between 500k subscribers and 5 million might come down to convincing those PvE-only ‘carebears’ that PvP done correctly is a great way to game.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in EQ2, MMO design, PvP, Warhammer Online, World of Warcraft. Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to It’s ok to hate bad PvP, but have you played good PvP?

  1. Mikejl says:

    Actually I ignored Warhammer development for the longest time because WoW soured PvP for me. And I only got wind of WAR as a PvP game. By that I never realized some of the great PvE concepts in WAR.
    Also, I reached back into my DAOC days I do have fond memories of RvR. I am no way a hardcore PvP however I like the option of being able to jump into RvR battles. Best part with WAR is my PvE effort still help out with victory points.
    Now I took time and read forum posts and web articles. I also watched all the production podcasts and I haft to say .. I am sold on WAR and pre-ordered.

  2. Thallian says:

    I think a large percentage of them will find out they enjoy it once they give it a try.. if it is well done and enjoyable.

  3. Tipa says:

    I think you will find that people don’t want to think while killing. They want their mobs to stand their and die in predictable ways. They also enjoy having zero risk when they play.

    Moving to an environment where stuff doesn’t just stand there and die, and you have to think about every fight, and any fight, you could lose, is quite different from the normal PvE grind.

    Now, if they are on PvE servers, PvP won’t be surprise death, but they will probably avoid it altogether aside from group battles.

  4. spinks says:

    Tipa, I think you’ll find that you don’t have to think too much in a RvR zerg.

  5. Loredena says:

    I enjoyed DaoC as a game, but never got far enough into it to try the RvR. I (briefly!) played PotBS earlier this year, and it did nothing to persuade me that pvp could be fun. I’ll suspend judgment on RvR in WAR since Mythic has a good reputation in that regards — but, if corpse camping, lowbie ganking just-because, and so on are still supported, encouraged, and common, it’s not going to win over people like me. So far I’m still 100% PvE-centric.

  6. Bonedead says:

    Just because it is possible to corpse camp, lowbie gank, and so on does not mean that the game company “supports” it. If anything you could say they support “freedom”. Same goes for Encouraged. The games that I know of where that is possible it is always discouraged by lack of reward.

    You’re not mad at PvPers and PvP, you’re mad at little kids who use magnifying glasses on ant hills, and there is no way you will get them to stop playing games. I should know, I once was (and I guess still am on the inside) a little kid using a magnifying glass on ant hills. You just have to educate them, make them feel bad, make them feel alone. Instead of you quitting the game, you should try to get them to quit by turning everyone against them. Happened to me, and look at me now! Not a problem at all! keekles

  7. sid67 says:

    PVP is a niche that currently only a fraction of gamers really appreciate.

    I can’t tell you how strongly I disagree. PvE is more of the niche because it largely exists only in the RPG genre. I suspect that this is because RPGs largely have their roots as character development/story progression games that were SOLO games.

    The very nature of games from Duck-Duck-Goose to Monopoly to Professional Sports has always been to compete against other players (which is the nature of PvP). People understand competition, people enjoy playing against (not just with) others. I think you grossly underestimate how quickly the average consumer would pick up and play a game that mirrors this type of competition if it was done well.

    If you look outside the RPG genre, then you will see many of the most popular and lasting titles pit Players vs. Players. MMORPGs are simply an aberration where PvP has never been really been designed well for the larger population. The better question is not whether or not people would like it, but can it be done well? Can PvP in a character-based progression MMORPG be fair and balanced enough to be appealing and enjoyable?

    The question of whether or not people enjoy PvP is ludicrous, since players competing against players has been the nature of games since time immortal. Even in a PvE game, you compete in non-obvious ways like Levels, Gear and Raid progression. Give people a good, understandable and fun PvP game to play, and people will play it.

  8. Grimjakk says:

    As far as the lowbie ganking… in WAR, attacking someone too much lower than you will reportedly get you turned into a chicken. ;)

    I love that bit.

  9. sente says:

    It is correct that most games are “PvP” in the sense that they are competitive. But a lot of competitive games also are quite restricted in their rulesets and what effects from the gameplay will persist.

    In MMOs the rulesets are quite extensive and only one piece what you can do is competing against other players and that is mainly throuhg combat. Each player selects a subset of the existing rules when they choose to play in a session. It does not matter what the game rules may allow, if there are other distuptiong that subet they are going to be upset, you have broken “their rules” for the moment.

    That may be through PvP actions but can also be other things, e.g. mob camping.

    Nobody wants to loose all the time, even if they may be fine loosing somewhat often. And if they should loose that should preferably be just barely – at least not total humiliation.

    In many of more traditional games you control that by external rules and ranks to determine that roughly equal players will play against each other. Or you have a handicap system (e.g. like in the board game Go) which allows players at very different skill levels to compete against each other and be competitive for both.

    If EQ and WoW are examples of bad PvP, what MMOs have good PvP to date then and why are they good?

  10. sid67 says:

    Well said, Sente. The issue is not really PvP itself, but whether or not MMORPGs can deliver quality PvP that people will enjoy. It’s not that people don’t like PvP, they just haven’t played any PvP that is any good in an MMORPG. Will WAR change that? If so, how?

    The issue is character progression creating an imbalance. In RPGs, we want our character to progress. However, in PvP that progression leads to imbalance. MMORPGs are also more freeform by nature so you are pointing out, the rules lack definition. I might be playing the Market Mogul game and you are playing the Kill Everthing That Moves game.

  11. Alex says:

    “PvE is more of the niche because it largely exists only in the RPG genre.”

    My logic stemmed from the very fact that the ever vast MAJORITY of video games ever designed stem on SOLO-play viability. Even if you look at some of the most recent cult accepted pvping games like Call of Duty 4, one of the main reasons why it is such an attractive game is that it has an amazing single player campaign mixed in as well.

    You can argue that the games original design was for online multiplayer play, which would make sense, but you cannot deny that even a game that was originally designed to redefine the competitive FPS genre catered to the very common “pve” or single player fan.

    It is very difficult to create a viable game that has absolutely zero solo or single player capabilities. This is seen across ALL genres of games.

    I think I would have to agree with Tipa to an extent when he says many people are not necessarily looking for a competitive-pvp oriented game. If you ask some people in WOW why they enjoy pve so much you will often find the answer (especially among older players) that it is relaxing. Nothing wrong with that, but not everyone games for the same reasons.

    This brings me back to my point from another comment: PVP is not as generally appreciated by gamers and >>>competitive<<< gamers (or those who play for the sake of PVP) could easily be considered a niche market.

  12. seriouslycasual says:

    I have always felt the biggest turnoff for PVP has been the extreme lack of sportsmanship and the promotion of underhanded play by the games themselves.

    Why attack someone at full health when you can hide and wait for them to be under half after they are done killing some mob? Why wait for them to be done killing that mob when you can just attack them and make him/her have to fight you both at the same time? Why give the other player a chance when you know you can just stun/fear/root/kite the enemy until he is dead?

    So many players perceptions of PVP are based on WoW. Even if you weren’t on a high pop PVP server just about everyone remember going into Warsong Gulch as the new level 10-12 player and getting two shot by all of the other players and then one shot by the twinks. It is a horrible horrible experience that is only repeated at level 70 as you grind for even more gear as cannon fodder for many many hours.

  13. sid67 says:


    The question you (and Tipa) are raising is that people don’t like PvP. This isn’t true because the majority of all games (not just video games) since time immortal has been players competing against other players. Even when games don’t offer ways to compete, people find them (how fast did you kill X? did you do it without dying?). It’s the nature of games to play against others. Solo games, outside of video games, rarely exist.

    However, if you revise that and say — people don’t like MMORPG PvP, then that might very well be true. But it begs the question of why? If the like or appreciate it in other forms, why not in MMORPGs? Is it because they have never experienced Good PvP on an MMORPG? And is Sente right that such Good PvP in a MMORPG simply impossible due to the nature of that type of game?

  14. Openedge1 says:

    I do not think it is that people do not like PvP. We just wish to choose if we have PvP.
    I always try PvP. But, MMORPG PvP has always sucked (examples being Lineage 2 and WoW and AoC)
    Good PvP is when I DECIDE to PvP (Halo3, Guild Wars, etc)
    As long as I am not “forced” into PvP, except in the “Factional” sense (which is what WAR sounds like on one of the rulesets) I will be ok.

    But, thinking WAR will be GOOD PvP is a conundrum. How does class balance play into it. How does gear play into this.
    Will not know until release.
    But, for now, I will listen to the crowds and see what the rumble is.
    PvP is not on my list of fun right now though…and I have enough GOOD games to play that do not remind of older “cartoon” games as well.

  15. Talyn says:

    Not to mention: who says what is “good” PvP and what is “bad?” There are plenty of WoW players who are into the arena style combat. There are plenty of you guys who can’t stand that and want WAR’s open world PvP, etc. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure comes to mind.

    Taking things outside video games, look at the PvP games we have in real life: sports. With a few “solo” exceptions like golf or bowling, the “real” sports that are popular are the team sports. They are competitive and cooperative at the same time, which provides a more rewarding experience.

    But they’re not about war, they’re not about combat, they’re not about killing. And you don’t have 12-year-old kids playing football for 120 hours per week to gank the Yankees.

    When it comes to online games, the Internet Fuckwad Theory will always rule the day…

  16. Bonedead says:

    Enjoying PvP is a process. You have to accept some things and be prepared to brush them off. For instance: Young kids. This is where the underhanded play comes in for the most part. If you’re bad at PvP you do it, but if you’re good it is frowned upon. What you’ve got to remember is PvP doesn’t stay in game, it goes to the forums. What I mean by this, is if you want Mr. Underhand’s opinion on why he killed you at half health when a mob was on you, you go make an @Mr. Underhand post. You may already be associating that action with negative feelings because you’ve read those kinds of posts. What is he going to say? Probably something along the lines of: “You were in a PvP area and you’re surprised you got killed?”, which is pretty much true. That is one of the things you have to accept.

    But just because people say that to you doesn’t mean that they think he was justified. They probably think he is just a wuss, trying to get PvP points any way he can, which is probably true. What you’ve got to realize is that Mr. Underhand is a person too, trying to get PvP points just like you. He may not have the gear or ability to kill as well as you, so this is what he has to resort to. It is just a part of the game that you have to accept. You can’t always win in PvP just like you can’t always win in PvE.

    Now let me ask you this: When you are fighting a mob and you get some adds and you kill all of them but one and you did everything in your characters power to survive, have you ever thought, “Oh well, I gave it all I could and I came close, no big deal”? You have to do that in PvP too. Except usually you can’t say I did everything in my power to win (in PvP), usually you are reliving the moment in your head and trying to figure out what went wrong. Eventually you will know how to play your character flawlessly (which imo you can’t learn in PvE), however, you can still lose.

    Basically if you can’t accept a loss, don’t even think of even considering trying to PvP in any serious manner. Shit, you probably shouldn’t teach your kid how to play basketball either. But, if you can pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and still drive on to victory: then I would recommend trying out some PvP.

  17. Scott says:

    You’re never going to get a consensus or agreement on what constitudes “good” pvp. For the few that will even participate in PvP MMO’s, there’s two types.

    There’s the “I only want to PvP when I decide”, which are those who want a safe walled garden that they can step out of to PvP in, or mini-games like Arena’s, so there’s always that concious flagging of their character when they engage in PvP.

    The other type is “I want open PvP everywhere”, those that are willing to take the chance that they’ll get attacked/ganked anywhere and everywhere, in order to also be able to attack anywhere and everywhere without having the luxury of safe areas for themselves or others.

    I myself started with UO, and I prefer the latter. I’m not a jerk, I don’t gank, but I don’t want a single artificial restriction on my gameplay such as when and where I can attack (short of capital cities or simliar mechanics). That being on edge and excitement of knowing I could be attacked at anytime, or attack anyone else is key to my enjoyment of the game.

    I understand the former opinion, many of the older or married and busy folks in my game, or those less inclined for PvP share it. They want to be able to step away from the PC and afk safely while they do other stuff, or PvE and occasionally jump into a little PvP. Personally that takes away too much from the game experience IMO, but it makes the game playable given their real life distractions or attitude towards PvP.

  18. Oakstout says:

    I think one of the biggest problems with PvP in other games is the lack of group cooperation. Sure, they’ve got tons of people in AV, but only a small handful actually work together to make things happen. I’ve been in lots of BG’s and the problem is always lack of unity. The only people that seem to achieve anything are those that are 4 boxing 70 level warlocks, which I have seen. They all move together and have the same goal, which really is what a organized group PvP effort is suppose to be.

    I think WAR will be the great exception because its all group pvp or in this case RvR. Guilds will be formed for the sole purpose of working together, not raid, but capture a city or fortress from the opposing players. I suspect there will be some one on one action, but in most cases it should be group against group. I think that will make the difference.

  19. sid67 says:

    [Syncaine and Tobold have both had discussions lately about what constitutes “good” PvP and a couple of ideas keep popping up. Balance and Consensual PvP. The context of most arguments about what makes PvP fun (or not fun) revolve around either the idea that is imbalanced or it’s simply not consensual. To illustrate this point, I created the following diagram…] (link to PvP matrix diagram)

  20. Kiseran says:

    The reason why I don’t like PvP is that you meet people there who like to beat other people simply to see them suffer. I detest those people and I want them out of my sight. I won’t play any game that attracts this kind of audience. I’ve met them everywhere on PvP-Servers and most of the time they weren’t punished enough or at all.
    Sure, I could try to punish them myself, but I don’t enjoy that and last time I looked I was not payed for it also.

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