PvP is Overrated

Okay, seriously, last time I abuse a (this) misleading title.

Two items of interest today. First, Blizzard finally took a step to address BG faction imbalance (read: queue times) in WoW… by opening free Horde –> Alliance transfers on a single realm:

We consistently watch queue times for all areas of the game to try to identify problem areas where we can step in and make an improvement. Battleground queue times specifically tend to be a direct result of how many people are entering the queue at any given time from both the Horde and Alliance, within an entire region. While a number of factors can lead to longer queue times, faction interest in queuing for PvP tends to be the primary influence. For that reason we’re going to be trying something new. For a limited time, and only for select realms (for this first test just a single realm), we’ll be opening faction changes for Horde characters to change to Alliance for free.

While time will tell how much this works in solving queue times, I have been watching Blizzard dance around this issue with considerable amusement. Because honestly, the solution that actually works is the one the devs are least willing to implement: same-faction BGs. Bam! Faction imbalance solved. Instead, Blizzard is treating random BGs as some sacrosanct, final line in the sand:

Faction imbalance is definitely something that’s contributing to the lengthy queue times. That said, we agree that allowing Horde vs Horde and Alliance vs Alliance Random BG’s isn’t a great answer. We’ll do it if it’s absolutely necessary (Rated BG’s allow for same-faction battles for exactly this reason), but we’re going to look at all other options first.

Honestly, even if we can’t find another good answer, we’re not sure queue times are so bad, at least at the moment, that same-faction Random BG’s would be worth it. Horde vs Alliance, Orcs vs Humans, Elves vs Trolls etc. has long been a strong core of the Warcraft universe. We want queue times to be faster for everyone, but we also don’t want to lose that.

Err… guys? It’s a goddamn random BG. Nobody cares. Horde have been battling Horde in Arena and Rated Battlegrounds (gasp!) for years. It would not be at all difficult to provide lore-based justifications for this combat. I mean, the Horde is fighting the “Iron Horde” in the next expansion, for god’s sake. One team is Horde, the other consists of “Twilight Cultists.” One team is Alliance, the other is “Scarlet Crusaders.” There are literally dozens of viable factions introduced in each expansion that could make these fights make sense, if anyone at all really cared about the “strong core of the Warcraft universe” nearly 11 years since the release of Warcraft 3: Frozen Throne. And it’s not like they could not get that same Horde vs Alliance kick from, I dunno, the actual story as told by quests and such. World PvP could still be whatever.

There are few things worse in any game than having to wait out timers. Sure, some people pine for the days of 30-minute boat rides in EverQuest and such, but you could theoretically chalk that up to “immersion.” There really isn’t anything that can be said for BG queue timers; the whole thing is arbitrary from the start. I’d like to believe that we will see same-faction BGs from Blizzard sooner rather than later, but the hills people choose to die on are varied and nonsensical on the whole.

Second item: fun with “Peace-decs” in EVE. While technically recycled, the article is interesting to me because it turns the traditional EVE “PvP sandbox” thinking on its ear.

For the uninitiated (which technically includes me as well), EVE has three security zones: hi-sec, low-sec, and null-sec. If you are out mining in high-sec, anyone who shoots you will get killed by space police within a few seconds. One way to get around that is for a PvP guild to “war-dec” your guild, which gives them the ability to shoot you without repercussion for as long as they pay the upkeep to the war-dec. What can you do? Nothing. Technically, you can quit the guild that has been war-dec’d or join an NPC guild or perhaps just not log on at all until the whole thing blows over. The developers likely hope that you either fight them or hire mercenaries to kill them or something of that nature. Or maybe they don’t particularly care.

This hypothetical “peace-dec” is the opposite of the war-dec: your guild pays a sum of money + upkeep costs to prevent another guild from being able to fire on you in hi-sec. Sounds fair, right? Holy shit though, watch the PvPers freak the hell out at the suggestion. For the inherent symmetry of the peace-dec thought experiment highlights how much of a non-sandbox the EVE universe might happen to be. I mean, is a sandbox a sandbox if other players dictate how you can play? It’s an interesting question. It’s also interesting seeing PvPers get mad at being threatened with the inability to play the game how they want to, when the existence of war-decs necessarily prevents PvE players from doing so. Why is turnabout not fair play?

In any case, the idea of a peace-dec is really growing on me, even for other games. For one thing, imagine the money-sink capability. Even if there were only a 5% chance of dying from a ganker, I’d imagine that 90%+ of the players would consider X amount of their earnings a worthwhile sacrifice for the peace of mind. Then, as you get more comfortable in your PvP ability, you can stop paying the upkeep and gain a greater profit for your skill, even if you are farming the same area. Plus, you could have instanced PvP for those who want fights they don’t have to look for. Who loses under this scheme, and why do we care about them?

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Posted on May 28, 2014, in Commentary, WoW and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Next question would be: Why do we still have factions in WoW? They don’t have a purpose anymore and there are enough NPCs that switched, or worked for both, factions.

    • But then how will they sell faction transfers?

      Seriously though, one if the things I liked the most from GW2 was the sense that, yes, I didn’t miss binary factions at all. It becomes especially silly in WoW, as you note, when nearly every bad guy is ultimately defeated by cooperation. Which is sort of required mechanically, I guess, given how both factions fight the same bosses (with few exceptions).

  2. Associating PvP with WoW BGs is quite sad. PvP should be about guild wars, not the game actual guilds fighting other guilds, world fights, spawn battles, town fights, looting dead bodies. BGs killed PvP that was actually meaningful. Sad to think a whole generation of MMO players associate PvP with arenas and BGs.

    • None of that was actually ever “meaningful,” especially if you were referring to vanilla WoW. If you were instead referring to other games entirely… err, okay. BGs didn’t kill anything that could support itself; if players want what you’re selling, they’ll buy it.

      Besides, it’s a bit myopic to imply that games like Counter-Strike, Quake, LoL, etc, aren’t PvP. Or that joining a 100+ person blob and otherwise demonstrating no appreciable impact on a battle’s outcome is “real” PvP. Are you fighting players as opposed to AI? Then it’s PvP. The context and larger framework is both immaterial and largely illusionary.

  3. I’m afraid I can’t agree with the outbreak of peace and love here.

    The fact is that most orcs I meet try to kill me. It’s no wonder. They are at war with me, and I with them. Orcs are an alien species who first destroyed their own home planet and are now agressively destroying mine.

    Orcs aren’t the only evil on our planet. We have enough trouble with demons and old gods bent on evil control and destruction of our people and our planet. We are permanently at war with evil in all its forms, and that includes the evil orcs have wrought upon Azeroth.

    Why do we fight? We fight to protect our planet from this invasive, agressive, destructive, alien species. Let these invaders return to Outland and rebuild it, instead of destroying Azeroth.Then we can talk of peace.

    • I’m not really advocating cross-faction BGs here, although that’s something to think about. But you have been helping Orcs and other Horde races for years and years already via factions, if not directly in terms of Thrall shenanigans.

  4. I’m with the abolition of hard faction lines. Keep separate content for both sides. Faction-based NPCs still kill wrong faction players on sight. World PvP still works. Open up the lines of communication and queuing though!