It’s weird. When I first started playing MMOs, I’d never heard of the term PvP nor did I have much interest in it. Dark of Camelot was the only one I’d ever encountered that really pushed PvP as a game mechanic and it was an exception to the rule of early 21st century MMORPGs. Even when the “next generation” of MMOs like Everquest 2 and World of Warcraft came along, PvE was the focus and PvP a minor consideration. Somewhere along the line in the last three or four years though everything changed. Why?
I mean, I can understand why people want PvP. Although I wouldn’t classify myself as a hardcore PvPer it’s definitely something I enjoy. I do the battlegrounds in WoW very frequently and I was the first to jump onto the PvP servers when they were introduced in Everquest 2. It’s adds a level of exhilaration and competitiveness that you just can’t get in normal PvE and it’s definitely an appealing facet of gameplay.
There must be a demand for PvP too otherwise companies like Blizzard and SoE wouldn’t put so much effort into it. WoW is starting to focus more and more on the PvP aspect than ever before and it seems as if the developers are pushing it as a primary form of gameplay now. They’re reorganising talents, introducing new abilities and are even going to introduce cross-region battlegrounds with the release of Cataclysm. Blizzard definitely wouldn’t be doing that unless they recognised a demand for PvP in their game and the market place as a whole.
My question though is when and why did this pushing of PvP start? How did it turn from a niche interest on lonely, specialist servers to mass-appeal gameplay? Over the last few years almost every major MMO that’s come out has had a strong focus on PvP (or at least include considerable mechanics for it). Warhammer Online, Aion, Global Agenda, Darkfall, Star Trek Online, Age of Conan (albeit promised but not delivered very well) to name some specifically. Even Lord of the Rings Online released with Monster Play.
I don’t know why this craze suddenly started. When did PvP go from being a sideline to a major selling factor? When did it become so popular? I can’t make up my mind if I think it’s the players demanding the gameplay or developers thinking we want it and pushing it down our throats. It’s almost as if every MMO released now is expected to offer polished PvE and deep and meaningful PvP but we all know that it’s a tough combination to achieve.
As I said before, Blizzard in particular must have good data to back up their push towards PvP. No doubt they see WoW as being the definitive MMO game that can appeal to the broadest sense of gamer, everyone from soloing single player RPG fans to fast and furious, competitive FPS gamers. No doubt they have the budget, staff and years of foundation required to pull it off but do new games? Shouldn’t they just concentrate on one thing or the other?
It’s an interesting topic for me because I do enjoy my PvP but it’s not going to make or break my decision to play a MMO. All I want to see are *good* games and I guess I’m slightly worried that this focus on PvP, or rather the attempt to appeal to every market of gamer, is watering down the quality of the products. Let’s be honest, it’s not like any of the MMOs that have attempted this fine balance over the last 2 – 3 years have been smashing successes.