Psychochild's Blog

A developer's musings on game development and writing.

27 December, 2007

Trying to please everyone
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 4:23 PM

I had an interesting conversation with some people in my current WoW guild and their complaints with the game. One core problem was that raiders were upset over the PvP rewards. True to the raider stereotype, some of the raiders complained that the PvPer didn’t really “earn” the gear.

I thought it was an interesting case of trying to please everyone but just upsetting some people.

The Arena PvP system in WoW is very interesting. As a caveat, I haven’t participated in the system yet, so I’m speaking mostly as an outside observer. There are two different points relating to the system: a ranking that appears influenced by the Elo rating system often used in Go and Chess and Arena Points awarded for competition and can be spent to buy equipment. The interesting twist here is that all combat participants earn some Arena Points regardless of winning or losing. This is probably intended to avoid a positive feedback loop where the winners are rewarded and become more powerful, thereby allowing them to become even more powerful. Note that some of the equipment that must be purchased requires a certain personal rating, so that the winners do get some bonuses over the losers.

However, the raiders were complaining that this system also let people earn “free epics” for doing nothing more than spending some time every week just losing matches. This has become a larger issue with Season Three rewards starting to become available. The problem, according to the raiders, is that the equipment is comparable to the gear that can be gained from raiding. One of the people complaining the most was a Warlock, since PvP gear focuses on stamina (thus giving more hit points), and Warlocks can easily convert hit points to mana to do more damage. Therefore, the higher stamina ratings gave PvP warlocks a significant advantage even in raids.

Now, I love good PvP (which few games do well, IMNSHO, but that’s a whole other post), but the raiders do have a point here. Raiding is a rather expensive proposition, as Damion has pointed out before. It takes a lot of in-game work to learn a new raid because you have to be at the peak of your game to really understand what’s going on and to react before you get the encounter on “farm status”. Some of the raiders have spent thousands and thousands of gold in doing raid content. (Some of us get to come in after it’s all done and reap the rewards, of course. ;)

Compare this to arena PvP, where people just have to show up to gain points over time. Sure, they can’t get shoulders or a weapon without winning a lot, but they still get some really good equipment without having to spend money on raids, earn DKP, or suck up to guild leaders.

As I said above, I think this is a problem with trying to please too many people and having competing systems overlap. Why raid if you can get better equipment over time from an easier system? Why not require people to get that equipment before raiding if it’s that much better, thus forcing people to participate in a system they hate?

That said, of course, WoW is still doing pretty well all things considered, so perhaps the system isn’t as flawed as it might seem. However, each season in the arena has provided better and better equipment, so it’s possible that the equipment will eventually be better than what is available via raiding. The PvP rewards system does seem to continue the trend of being more small-group friendly rather than requiring larger groups like other games have.

So, what do you think? Is this a problem? Should a game try to cater to a wide variety of players? Or, should the game focus on providing top-quality content for a specific type of player? Can PvPers live in harmony with PvEers in one game, or should they be sent to separate games?


  1. You said: “Why raid if you can get better equipment over time from an easier system?”

    I suspect you meant that in a rhetorical fashion, but I think that the answer to that question does contain an important clue to your larger point. The main reasons to raid are because you enjoy the end results of raiding, or because you enjoy the activity itself; if there is an easier way to the end results, then the only reason to raid is because you enjoy the activity.

    In other words, while some people will feel clever by losing match after match in an activity they don’t much enjoy (if they did, we can assume they’d be participating for real) in order to get the good stuff easier, others will avoid that detour and continue to do things they way they always have because they actually enjoy the raiding itself. So long as there is enough enjoyment in raiding to justify raiding for a heafty proportion of players, it all works out.

    Of course, you can easily overbalance — for instance, if WoW ‘required’ PvP equiment to be a successful raider. (And the whole requirement thing is a bit fiddly anyway in that popular opinion counts as much as actual numbers.) But so far this does not seem to be the case. So at this point I believe that Blizzard is balancing the needs and wants of its players relatively successfully.

    (They most certainly aren’t trying to please everyone, or else they would have done something — anything! — to please me. *grin*)

    Comment by srand — 27 December, 2007 @ 7:04 PM

  2. Prior to the implementation of the better PvP reward system, PvP in WoW was entirely dominated by raiders. Since the best gear came from raids, and the PvP gear that was available required a ton of work (remember, the initial system was based on buying items after you’d earned a specific rank, so even if you loved PvP and worked hard at it, unless you got enough points to attain the proper rank you couldn’t get the gear), as a non-raider going into PvP I’d see the graphics of raid quality armor and know I was pretty much doomed. In the old system, raiders got all the content…

    In my opinion, the raiders are just upset that they aren’t top dogs all the time playing the game in the way they want to play it. The game, after raiding had begun in earnest, used to require raiding to PvP effectively, and now it doesn’t.

    Comment by Jason — 27 December, 2007 @ 7:23 PM

  3. srand wrote:
    I suspect you meant that in a rhetorical fashion,

    Yeah, that was a rhetorical question. The person complaining about the PvP rewards said he’d rather do exploratory surgery on himself with rusty implements rather than do PvP. That was his answer to that question, at least. :)

    Well, the part you’re forgetting, Sandra, is that the two worlds are interfering with each other. I think it is rather unfair that someone who loses matches over the course of several months to get PvP gear should be on equal footing to participate in a raid as someone who had worked through previous raid content at great expense. Sure, both can do what they enjoy, but one path is quite obviously “easier”.

    As Jason points out, of course, is that this problem is now symmetric. Earlier PvP was dominated by gear, and raiders had access to the best. (I suspect this is still the case, but the highest-end raiders are smaller in number compared to the people able to get tier 4 drops.)

    While I agree that “let them do what they enjoy” is a good solution for the casual vs. raider issue, this is a lot more complex, IMHO.

    Comment by Psychochild — 27 December, 2007 @ 9:01 PM

  4. From the people I usually experience WoW with, they’ve hit the wall in Karazahn (the “first” 10 man raid content in the Outlands expansion), and so are using PvP-earned gear to give them that much an “edge” to finally achieve a farm status and move on in the raid content.

    My personal reaction to the decent gear achievable by PvP, is that Blizzard is doing everything it can to showcase the resources / assets that were poured into the raiding content of the Outlands. Not sure how much the figure has changed over the past few months, but I thought I remembered reading just a very short while ago that from “unofficial” inspections of the Armory to gauge raiding progression, only 1% or so of the server population had even seen the Black Temple (the furthest level raid so far in the game)..

    That seems like a LOT of investment with little-to-no payback in return, considering the expansion has been available for almost a full year now! (or is this considered “normal” MMOG raid content percentages?)

    If you want to help out in raids, but are saddled with crappy guilds and their “old-boys-network” style of raid member selection, then the only way to prove yourself when you do get the chance, is by having a few PvP pieces to ensure a re-invite to the next raid…

    Comment by Wazoo — 27 December, 2007 @ 9:09 PM

  5. The Arena system is very interesting? It’s season three! If you want to kill your relationship with friends/family maybe even pets partake in the arena with a goal to hit 2000, I dare you.

    WoW is the anti-christ. Please fall from grace now and spend time where you need it most.

    Comment by Anon — 28 December, 2007 @ 3:02 AM

  6. I think the raid loot system should be trashed in favor of the ticket system they’ve got for PvP. For the same gear. Problem solved and more people with more sanity will play that goofy raid game.

    Comment by robusticus — 28 December, 2007 @ 7:25 AM

  7. I see some hypocrisy here…

    So the raider complaining about arena epics being too easy to acquire would ‘rather do exploratory surgery on himself with rusty implements rather than do PvP’. Apparently acquiring arena gear is not that easy for him! So why would you complain about someone getting rewarded for doing something that you have no interest in doing?! That’s like complaining that the garbage men get paid too much, even though you would never be willing to take that job yourself. I suggest that these sour-grapes-raiders take some time to walk in the other side’s shoes before they start complaining about something that has little to no effect on them.

    Comment by Tholal — 28 December, 2007 @ 10:31 AM

  8. What happens is our guild keeps recruiting people that bolt before we can build a decent 25-person force to tackle the higher end stuff.

    So you’re a feeder guild. Obviously, not a fun thing as you keep making investments that never pay off. How does that work in the community? Is it just the way the game mechanics work out, with the difficulty of getting 25 people done with a tier at the same time, or are people intentionally using your guild as a waypoint? I imagine server boards where the top-tier guilds refer to the various smaller guilds like resource nodes that enrich them. Is one particular guild recruiting from yours, or is it a broad pass-through?

    I find the whole notion fascinating. We only have one guild on our City of Heroes server that tries to use others as feeder guilds, so the dynamics and politics are foreign to me.

    Comment by Zubon — 28 December, 2007 @ 11:26 AM

  9. I think players should be able to get the best gear doing what they find fun. No one should be
    forced into raiding. Its time intensive, repetitive, and just not fun for many people.

    PVPers spend a lot of time acquiring their leet gear just like the raiders farm instances with
    alarming precision at a point.

    Next, like RMT, people need to stop being envious of each other over “lewts” and just play the

    Alas, I think World Of Warcraft is an MMO for farmers anyway….

    Comment by vajuras — 29 December, 2007 @ 8:58 AM

  10. Someone wrote Tobold and had a proposal for separating out PvP and PvE:

    I left a comment as well:

    IMHO, I think one problem is trying to please everyone and having the game spread its focus too thin over both PvP and all forms of PvE.

    I don’t think it’s really a question of PvE or PvP being “more fun”, it’s a question of what is more efficient. PvP gear is easier to get for two reasons: 1) you don’t rely on the competence or selflessness of other people, and 2) you get to pick what you want instead of hoping for random drops.

    I think Blizzard has tried to address some of these issues by having the instance badges drop in raid instances and expanding what the badges can buy. But, you still actually have to accomplish something (killing a boss) to get the badges as opposed to AFKing or losing Arena matches.

    The other night I had a particularly nasty experience where someone didn’t just AFK, but rather sat there and taunted people about not participating. Rather frustrating for some of us that actually want to play and enjoy the battleground. The unfortunate thing is that this behavior still generates rewards for the harassers.

    The one problem I don’t like with the proposal is that it makes people carry around more equipment. My main is a Feral Druid, so the last thing I need is to carry around another set (or three) of equipment if I want to participate in both PvP and PvE. Perhaps have special storage facilities so that people can swap out PvP and PvE equipment for matches?

    Comment by Psychochild — 29 December, 2007 @ 2:27 PM

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  12. The Great PvP Debate

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