In my recent post about DAoC2, I mentioned that if DAoC 2 were to ever appear, while I think it would be very successful, I don’t believe that it would be a WoW beater and in fact neither will any RvR or PvP based MMORPG ever. So what’s my reasoning behind this?
It’s really quite simple. People don’t like to lose.
Games were not created to favor the loser. It is strange to think people are sitting in video game design classes and dreaming of games that punish the victor, even if those designers are not the best gamers. Especially as games become more involved and advanced, those playing will spend days or even weeks working past what is giving them trouble.
In a PvE centric game like WoW it’s completely possible to play the game for years and always win. You will clear the dungeon, beat the bosses and emerge victorious. Even if learning new raid content and having to spend a few days wiping on a boss, you can be assured that you will eventually beat it to a pulp. No matter how difficult a particular PvE challenge is, a player knows they have a 100% chance of beating it should they put the time and effort in. You also know that you will have it on farm status at some point in the near future. Whether you win or lose is entirely down to you.
PvP and in particular RvR is very different. They might not like to admit it, but even the biggest epeen waving prick loses fights in RvR and bloody often too. I know because I’ve seen them lose :P Situations will arise that are impossible to win, it doesn’t matter how well you play or how well you’re prepared, you will lose and there’s nothing you can do about it. At some point your elite warband of doom will ride round a corner and straight into 4 warbands of OMFGZERGDOOM from the enemy faction and BLAM! You lose, simple as that. Sure, you can put up a good fight, get some kills, stay alive a long time and perhaps claim a moral victory, but it will still boil down to you respawning. Battles and campaigns will be won or lost and whilst you can influence the outcome, you cannot decide it with 100% certainty.
That huge mass of casual players that in reality bulk out the big name game’s subscription fees don’t want the results of their valuable gaming time taken out of their control. They want to consistently achieve and have a sense of progress; they need to be in control. They log in, do their daily quests and log out, safe in the knowledge that they’ve taken a step further towards item A, B or C. They do a dungeon, they want item X, but if they don’t get it they know if they go again and eventually they will. And hey, they still got a token/plaque/whatever, so no time was wasted, the winning end result is inevitable. They don’t want to log in and get their arse kicked for an hour and come out of it with nothing and have no guarantees that this won't happen again tomorrow, or every day for ever... where’s the fun in that? What a waste of their precious time and I don't mean that sarcastically at all, because yes time is precious. And while I say this regarding casual players, it also applies to a great many more hardcore gamers, they will quite often be even more demanding of constant and reliable progress. What they are winning is relative to their different goals in-game and the time and effort associated varies, but the expectation of consistent winning crosses the boundary of casual to hardcore players.
Whereas the dedicated RvR gamer is far more comfortable with just taking part in the challenge itself. They of course will also be interested in character progression and winning their campaign, but they will also revel in those moral victories where the only reward is a smile, a bit of epeen bolstering and perhaps some banter. To play RvR games for a long time means you must have accepted defeat and enjoy what may turn out to be impossible challenges. Perhaps they are playing for the fun of the fight itself and the utterly valueless epeen internet glory.
I don’t mean to imply that the RvR gamer is better than PvE gamers in any sense, it’s just people have a different set of desires, levels of patience and just what they’re willing to accept and enjoy in life. The majority of people want to win and given the choice between two good games where one supplies reliable victory, but the other you are only able to influence a result, then obviously more people will opt for the fun victory. For most people that question would be a total no-brainer.
Just look at EVE, a game that is rampant with RvR in the form of player run Corporations battling each other for territory and power. EVE is an extremely well made, very high quality and all round excellent game. On the pure quality stakes I would say it can comfortably stand next to any other MMO. It also has regular FREE expansions. Yet, it isn't even vaguely close to WoW's sub numbers. It's just too harsh for most players. You can get your arse kicked, have everything you own destroyed or stolen and the perception amongst non-EVE players is that this happens all the time and there's nothing you can do to stop it. Which is potentially true, it's the nature of these type of games and as EVE's infamous history shows, no Corporation is invincible... That's a horribly risky style of gameplay for most people. The masses want their win and in WoW, RIFT and other PvE centric games everyone is a winner!
So then, what'll it be for you? The taking part or the winning?
Me, I like a bit of both.