What PvP means in WoW

Ubiq posted something that I thought I posted myself. It was kind of a deja-vu.

Actually I cannot remember if I really posted it or just wrote in my “notes” file to write about later on, but I clearly remember to have counted all the PvP and PvE servers a while ago and I still have the numbers I noted down:
55 normal servers
73 PvP

I’m bringing this up now because I’ve seen wrong conclusions being drawn about these numbers, so here are my precisations that I also wrote in the comments over there.

The first wrong assumption is this one:
The most successful PvP in WoW isn’t “MMO PvP” – it’s counterstrike style PvP.

This is false and those number demonstrate the exact opposite. The “counterstrike style PvP” is what we have in the form of “BattleGrounds” and these are available on ALL servers. There’s no distinction between PvP and PvE servers here. No reason to pick one instead of the other.

But still, what those numbers show is that the players are split in half. If one half of these players has chosen the PvP servers IS NOT because they want to play in the BGs, because these BGs are available on all servers. Makes sense?

So what is the distinctive trait between PvE and PvP servers? The world PvP. Half of the players have chosen a PvP server because of the “world PvP”.

Those players are there despite that kind of unique PvP offered in the PvP servers is almost non existent and was completely neglected by Blizzard.

Those aren’t just players who want PvP. Those are players that are there for a form of PvP that Blizzard doesn’t even support.

I don’t think this is a negligible detail. The very significant conclusion is that the players are asking for a type of PvP that Blizzard is NOT SUPPORTING.

And don’t fucking tell me that EVEN in the PvP servers the “world PvP” is almost dead and everyone just plays in the BGs. OF COURSE, but this happens because of the lack of support to a WORTHWHILE ALTERNATIVE. The players can only follow the best route available and this depends on what is offered. This doesn’t mean that there wasn’t a DEMAND for other forms of PvP. A demand that Blizzard ignored till today.

It’s like a seed. Players arrive with expectations, then they have to adapt. In this case Blizzard just didn’t take advantage of the expectations of those players.

Now the other wrong premise (in the sequel):
The PvP servers are emptier than PvE servers.

This is also false. I don’t have exact numbers but I’m sure that the number of active players between PvP and PvE are near. The proof of this is that Blizzard not only launched an equal number of PvP and PvE servers when the game was released, but continued to do so since then. It’s obvious that there was a demand since the number and type of new servers is determined by population requirements.

On the other side it is true that a good number of PvP servers have a very low population. But even here there’s a reason.

This is a trend I observed since the very beginning and that can be generalized to other games:
– In the PvE case the players tend to move on the servers with less population, where they have less competition (divergence)
– In the PvP case the players tend to amass on fewer servers, looking for good-sized communities (convergence)

The result of this is that the PvE server have usually a better distributed population, while the PvP servers have sharp highs and lows, with servers overcrowded and servers that are basically empty. The players tend to converge instead of diverge as in the PvE servers. Such is the nature of PvP, without other player you can just stare a wall. So the players look for playable and popular environments. Instead in a PvE server, beyond your guild, everyone else is insignificant if not an annoyance. This is why it’s much simpler to ask a raiding guild to move on a “clean” server, they actually desire it. While it’s much harder to make a consolidated PvP guild to move on a underpopulated server. It would be a sacrifice.

Yes, the players joined and still join the PvP servers with set expectations. I’m one of them. These expectations may be deluded but they are still part of an original motivation. The form of mixed PvP and PvE in WoW is still what drives the players to the PvP servers because it can be extremely fun. It adds a variation to a kind of gameplay that instead would be monotonous and dull at times. It enhances the social fabric and interactions, it makes the zones become alive. It makes the game feel more like a “world” where the players have some significance instead of ignoring each other. The environment becomes much more part of the gameplay in a open PvP field than in a static PvE pull.

This doesn’t mean that it is always as fun as it can be. I believe that a huge improvement would be to get rid of levels, but this would be off-topic here. The point is that the players are there for a potential that isn’t fully delivered.

A seed momentarily without water.

(continues here)

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