27 December, 2007
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?