Tobold's Blog
Thursday, October 30, 2008
The market share of PvP

Apart from the pure Warhammer Online blogs, there is a distinctive feeling in the MMORPG blogosphere of people becoming disenchanted with WAR. Even Heartless_, who calls himself a WAR fanboy, now says that he'll leave WAR in three months if things don't get better. In a way that cycle of pre-release hype, and post-release popping of the hype bubble isn't anything new. But hype is only a distortion to players slowly revealing their true preferences.

The problem with the MMO market in the last months was that it was dominated by "bored with WoW" players. They bought Age of Conan, they bought Warhammer Online, they bought a lot of other games. But November 13th many of them will buy Wrath of the Lich King, and be back to World of Warcraft. And in early 2009 we will see some of them being bored of WoW again and looking for other games again. But at that time WotLK will still be relatively fresh, and there won't be any big new hyped game around, and players will slowly tend towards the game they like the most.

While it isn't immediately obvious if you only look at level 1 characters, at their core World of Warcraft and Warhammer Online are two very different games. That becomes most clear in the end game. It is hard to find a good description of the two different end games which doesn't use any terms that might be considered judgmental. But the endgame of WoW is one of PvE, and the endgame of WAR is one of PvP. In WoW you repeatedly fight raid bosses with various abilities and in various surroundings, but these bosses act on a script and are ultimately stupid. In WAR you repeatedly fight other players with a limited scope of abilities and always the same fortress / city surrounding, but these opponents react in a far more intelligent way. Both endgames have their advantages and disadvantages, and thus their fans and detractors. Some people simply prefer the one, some people prefer the other. The discussion of which one is "better" is about as pointless as discussing whether strawberry ice cream is better than chocolate ice cream.

While the motives of individual players might differ, on the large scale we can assume that people who prefer PvP will drift towards WAR, and those who prefer PvE will drift towards WoW. The two games together will totally dominate the US / European market for MMORPGs. And it is interesting to see how PvP fares against PvE when you give players a choice of two games with similar high quality, but different basic gameplay concepts. It appears that PvP in the western MMORPG market has a significant share, but there are about 4 times more players who prefer PvE. Worldwide the PvE to PvP ratio isn't all that different, after adding the Asian players of WoW and games that are big in Asia like the Lineage series to the count.

So I think PvP games will have a solid future, because somebody will always figure that its easier to go for the 20% of PvP players than competing with many others for the 80% of PvE players. I don't think we will ever see a game that makes players of all types happy, there are some fundamental incompatibilities between perfect PvE and perfect PvP. Perfect PvE means continuous advancement of your character in power, be that in level or gear. Perfect PvP requires characters being not too far from each other in power level, so that factors like skill and organization have a chance to influence the battle. I don't think that we will ever see a situation where PvP games have a larger subscription base than PvE games. There are simply too many people around who prefer to fight only against the game, not against the other players. I wish WAR the best of luck, and I am quite happy that it managed to give people a good alternative to WoW, but personally I prefer PvE games too.
I am a bit more negative depending WAR. I like PvP alot. Especially BGs (not so much arena). I looked forward to WAR, but.. well.. there is no endgame. PvP endgame *needs* character porogression. Even if a lot of people think that fairness and balance are important. They are not. I know a lot of players on my old WAR server that are leaving - especially the eary-40 players.

This is a *BIG* problem.
A zerg is not intelligent. 1 human enemy is challenging. 20:20 are not challenging - let alone 150:150.
The only way to make RVR interesting is, if you find players who *organize* their side against the other. These are the most important players for Mythic. But they also are those, who spend more time (have the time) playing. They are the ones who are leaving right now, having reached lvl 40 and nothing to do - the endgame is not finished.
Without them WAR will be a big zerg of 100:100 casual players, who log in and exspect somebodey to organize a surprise attack - but nobody wants to do it, because everybody is tired from work and only wants to relax. RvR will become boring with the never-changing environment and without organisation.

Besides: WoW offers some way of Open PvP and already announced to put more focus into it. Only WoW offers arena. WoW is not a pure PvE game.

WAR will not die, but the loss of eary-40 players is substantial and a major problem, imo.
I think WoW has created a confused outlook of PvP for many MMO players now. MMORPG is different from FPS, RTS, or any other genre where there is no individual in-game "progression" outside of player skill. When you have a variety of classes, with a variety of skills, playing in a variety of environments, and you will *never* have balance (unless maybe you have a 70 of every class and spec so you can pick and choose what you want to play at any given time - thus negating the disparity between classes/specs).

And that's fine. It's an RPG. There doesn't need to be perfect balance between every class if PvP is focused toward large-scale battles and each side has every class.

But WoW has created this "esport" MMO complex where people think every 1v1, 2v2, 3v3, etc needs to be perfectly balanced. It will never happen.

WAR implemented a much more RPG-style PvP system, but it's being overlooked by arena-kiddies who think their MMORPG can be an outlet for competitive play. And usually the WoW arena-kiddies are just bitter cal-o and iccup D- scrubs.
I totally agree with the 1st poster.
I reached Rank 40/RR 40 with my Runepriest and now have basically nothing to look for in the game. Contribution in keep takes is bugged (I end up 12th, while being the only healer in a 15 people warband, so loot progression is not an option for me). Renown ranks do not offer much (only gloves that replace each other).
So what is in the game for me for next 1 - 3 months till all those bugs/endgame is fixed?
I can't deny that there was some fun in my first fortress defense, but that will get boring after 2-3 times. Imaging killing Illidan 20 times just for the fun of it.

I'll probably play WoW when Wrath launches and check back on WaR in early 2009 to see if the major problems have been resolved.
IMO the choice between the two games does not have to do with preferring PvE over PvP, but how much you like character progression, and WoW (at its current state, not vanilla WoW) offers a steady character progression when you reach the endgame, either via PvE or PvP.
WAR should be successful in its own way, Mythic will have a good MMORPG but they wont pass wow's numbers

personally id prefer pvp in WAR compared to WOW and playing as a tank in WAR is way more fun. standing behind enemy caster/healer while he/she frantically trying to escape me is hilarious.. bliz should copy this feature, standing shoulder to shoulder as a line of tank in WOW is a joke when everyone can bypass you.
That's the 2nd time I've seen someone mention the 80% PvE vs 20% PvP number. While I'm not disagreeing with the number, where are people getting this number? If someone is merely counting US/Europe WoW vs WAR numbers, that hardly seems fair considering the age difference of the two games. (Plus WoW numbers should swell significantly once WotLK comes out.)
" Imaging killing Illidan 20 times just for the fun of it."

for me id rather play pvp for fun than doing raid instance for 'gear' .. i hate gear grind in WOW

but to each his / her own..
the endgame of WAR is one of PvP

I am no longer convinced this is the case.

Have you seen the armor set press releases? After fighting players you will have the best chance of getting to the emperor if you have a few pieces of certain armor sets - its another resist gear matchup like some boss fights in WoW, with each of several bosses requiring gear from earlier bosses in various dungeons. Though they say you only need a few pieces, but that could always be retuned if people kill the emperor "too soon". AND the loot will drop randomly off those bosses, no tokens, no repairable loot.

Why they put the repairable loot in and then don't use it is beyond me. They came up with a great idea that moves us away from the RNG, then they throw it out.
Tobold, I think you are being a bit quick to dismiss the PvP Endgame of WoW.

Although you might not enjoy arenas in battlegrounds, and I myself partake in a great deal of raiding, heroics, and PvE...

Many players I encounter who are high end raiders, or NON-RAIDERS - often find themselves farming for Honor Gear, trying to raise their arena team ratings, or just PvP'ing for achievements or the joy of it.

The achievement system has also introduced actual rewards such as mounts and titles for PvP'ing in battlegrounds and raiding enemy cities. So WoW may not have as substantial a PvP endgame as WAR, it is quite a significant draw to many WoW players.
The answer, of course, is chocolate.
Um... Strawberry ice cream is gross.
All I can was that I was a die hard PvP'er up until the last WoW patch. I never had enough patients to raid. After the patch I went on a few Kara runs and I really really really like PvE. Not seeing Kara before was a huge mistake on my part. I even went to a TK raid. Keal the sunstrider is the most epic fight ever. It was so much freakin fun, even wiping 10 times. I was really at the bottom of my rope with WoW and PvP, I've spent hundreds of hours in AV alone. I think WoW does a great job with PvP, and a a truly epic job with PvE. I regret ignoring such a huge part of the game, however I still feel WoW didn't make raiding accessable enough, and thats why I never got into it. I guess things will change come WotLK.

As far as Warhammer goes it does an okay job in PvP. I really feel like War PvP is more of a Zerg where there is no stratagy involved what so ever. As far as PvE goes, it is almost non-exsistant. I never ran a dungeon once. I know there are a few dungeons, but no one cares about them so there were never any runs. From what I read the dungeons are pretty much crap anyways. Grinding mobs and quests until lvl 40 is a freakin joke, much better to just do scenarios. Scenarios get boring real freakin quick, esp with the long queues.
WoW's PvP combat is rather bland and I never understood the arena idea in an MMO. WoW's end-game is doing instances which are difficult to complete, over and over and over again. 11 million people can't be wrong? Oh yes they can!
Before the launch, there was a huge discussion on if PvP was what players really wanted in today's market.
It was believed that PvE may not be what players wanted all along...
Age of Conan was a huge seller. We believed it may have been the PvP.
The fanboi rhetoric was so high for WAR, that we thought for sure it was the PvP.

But, each of these games have not done as well as thought.
Conan only has Funcom to blame for launching with a mess.
Also, everyone believes it is because they were getting sick of WoW.
WAR, has no one to blame but the overall reliance on PvP and not a great PvE game.
Also, everyone believes it was just an intermission before WoTLK.

Now, we just need a game with the focus in the MIDDLE to see if someone else can make a profit off this business to the tune of at least a million.

I want to see just one other MMO get a million players...then I will believe MMO's are a viable source of gameplay and worth wasting time on developing.
Right now I am so jaded and feel all MMO's and the genre itself is just crack hidden as games. Once you ween yourself off, it almost feels like there is no need to go back.

I believe that the market has become saturated with mediocre titles now.
And these last games prove that point.
WAR and AoC both sold well, but look to be on the outs.
WAR is still within its first 60-90 day period, so, it still looks good...just like AoC did.
The difference may be that AoC is forward looking and could possibly become something spectacular.
WAR I do not believe can advance past it's old school graphics and middling gameplay.

For now, I have quit the genre thanks to no one giving a darn and wanting to make a GOOD game. It's a tired setting, and needs a new infusion of change..

Vote Change 2008-2009!
That's the 2nd time I've seen someone mention the 80% PvE vs 20% PvP number. While I'm not disagreeing with the number, where are people getting this number? If someone is merely counting US/Europe WoW vs WAR numbers, that hardly seems fair considering the age difference of the two games.

The age difference only matters if you think that WAR has a huge growth of user numbers ahead of it. I don't think WAR from year 1 to year 4 will grow on the same curve as WoW did from year 1 to year 4. Already this year, in November, everyone predicts WAR taking a hit when WotLK comes out. There will be some more growth after that, but I think WoW will keep 4 times the subscribers as WAR has for the next couple of years. The other source for a very similar number is the global market share chart of Sir Bruce's MMOGCHART.COM, although that one doesn't have WAR numbers in it yet.
I am not sure, Obama will help to bring change to the MMO business .. but who knows ?
sorry - couldn't resist ;)
The market share of PvP depends on the quality of the game.

Mythic won't compete with Blizzard because of PvP vs PvE, but because they need to hire a decent game designer first and make Mark Jacobs deal with just the business stuff instead of game design.

If Warhammer isn't as successful as they expected it's because Mythic did a poor job. And it's also entirely unproven that WoW couldn't have been a great PvP game.

In both cases it's a matter of good or bad game design. Kalgan fucked the PvP for WoW.
I think a key to this discussion centers around the kind of PvP and PvE in these games. They both have each, but they have different takes on it. After deciding to go back into the Arena for a few mor tries, just to see if the new abilities would make much of a difference, I ended up logging off in disgust. I spent most of the matches wailing away on a healer I could not kill, or worse, losing complete control of my character (even after bubble and tinket) so a pair of rogues could dance with me and murder my partner, or while a mage could repeatedly polymorph me while his druiid friend murderd my partner... Arenas are not fun for some of us, and he crowd control, whether it be that stupid cyclone, polymorph, or stun lock is completely demoralizing. Maybe I lack skill, or the right spec, or the right partner, or my partner lacks skill or a combination of all those things, but the "end game" PvP in WoW feels like paying to walk into a room, being duct taped to a chair and then beign lauged at and urinated on by a couple of capering children.

WAR has not given me that experience.

For me, the style of WoW PvP is no longer an option. I will play WoW for the dungeons and raids, and condescending devloper insults and constant nerfs to my spec after they buffed us beyond reason and then failed to pay attention to the actual effect of said buffs and so nerfed us beyond reason thus continiung a long cycle that I have esperienced over the period of 4 years (wait, I guess I got a little negative at the end there, please forgive my bitternes as I am still trying to get the arena urine stench out of my clothes) and I will contine to play WAR for the lore, Public Quests and PvP.

That's rather fatalistic Tobold. I'm not trying to tell you how to think or whatever but I think personally that there could be a game that comes out and does both well. WoW certainly tried, and its battlegorunds weren't too bad, though they needed work, and it could easily have done OpenRVR and will be adding some of that soon. We'll see what World of BlizzyStarDiabloCraft comes up with next.
Personally I think one of the reasons I am not having fun is that melee DPS (no not a DPS specced IB/BO) is just busted all to hell.
you are wrong when you say WoW endgame is pve and WAR endgame is pvp. in case of warhammer you might be close to the truth because pve is a joke in war, but calling wows endgame pve is absolutly wrong. i for example play wow for nearly pvp only with some kara and zul aman runs in between. and i know that in my guild which consist of about 220 accounts nearly 50% do the same. very active arena gaming with battlegrounds to mess around.
the other thing you always say in your posts is that pvp oriented people will go for war and pve people for wow. thats totally untrue. wow´s pvp is 100 times better than the slow and boring zergfest that is war pvp. i even would go a step further and say that people who don´t want fast and competive pvp or the more low skilled ones would tend to war. the competive and real pvp players will stick with wow.
Competative and "real" pvp players will stick with wow.

That's a loaded statement. Why is it that some people want to make these kinds of qualifiers? I just put a post up about the elements of PvP in WoW that I hate, but a statement like the above automatically makes me non-competative and and not "real." Are chess players not real? Are chess players not competative?

Statements like this seem more designed to hurt than they do to share any truth. Was the suggestion that WoW's PvP was inferior to WAR's that hurtful? I think we might be back to strawberry and chocolate. In my case, the flavor I prefer is the one which doesn't involve me being locked down and out of many matches I participate in.

I suggest qualifiying such statments with, "this is what I prefer" and leave the insults in the Arena, because communication and conversation should not be competative, but it should certainly be real.

Thalian, the point is that PvP and PvE are different playstyles, and in an MMO where players can affect each other, intersection between the two will be a spot of contention if not outright griefing. There's a market for both, certainly, but I think it's pretty clear at this point that the PvE market is bigger, and that PvP players can have deleterious effects on the PvE players (Zombie event much?). Trying to make them play nice together just doesn't work, their goals are too different. There will never be a happy wonderland where everyone gets along all the time; the best a game can do is give players the tools to play how they want without screwing it up for other players. That's why Arenas and Battlegrounds are separate from the "overland world".

I suspect that PvE games will always be bigger, mostly just because of the basic psychology of games. They are escapist entertainment, and not everyone wants the stress of dealing with anonymous internet idiots in their fun. (Cockroaches in the ice cream, as it were.) There's nothing wrong with that, but if your company (and business model)is trying to run contrary to those basic principles, it's not going to succeed. If it does so ignorantly, it may not even know why it failed.
i didn´t meant to downgrade someone with that statement. i should have said, that wow pvp allows more player skill to influence the outcome of a pvp battle. further more i wanted to say that war pvp as a whole may have some good points that wow does not have in form of epicness of some scenarios and the feel of some keep sieges. that doesn´t neglate the fact that the real pvp happaning there is not really skill damanding nore is it competetive in the form that the better side wins. what i mean with real pvp players is people who like to play competetive and win cause they are the better ones. and thats where wow is 100 times better pvp than war. war is fluffy and all but for my definition of pvp just messing around.
p.s. yes chess would be "real" pvp, even more than wow is of course :)
So long as we can agree on chess, then all is right with the world ^_^

This is lazy thinking, repeating cliches, and consequently dead wrong.

In reality, WAR has the better PvE (just compare features, or play both games: the tedious solo grind-fest that is the WoW experience for 98% of players hardly even qualifies as a game, it is more like some kind of equivalent to knitting). WAR players quite rightly complain when aspects of the game are only slightly improved over WoW, instead of having proper thought put into them to make them actually enjoyable, rather than marginally less tedious.

Thing is, WoW has the better PvP: balance only comes from tuning over time, it can't be designed in. In WAR, there is going to be at least a 3-month period when anyone pushing the cutting edge of PvP will be continually finding themselves wading through the lava of some unintended fun-killing consequence. In the long term, it could even conceivably turn out that the arena is the only form of MMORPG PvP that works...

You can model PvP on crime, war or sport: only one of those is usually considered fun by both sides.

If WAR has an avoidable problem, it is its misguided marketing as a PvP game, instead of the casual fun alternative to the WoW solo/raid geargrindfest, a better LoTRO. The WAR endgame may be PvP, like WoW's end-game is raiding. But WoW doesn't base it's marketing or public perception on that fact, they target the majority of casual players, because those are the ones that get the subscription numbers up there.
I can see why you'd say that soru but I'd have to disagree. I think the post states it correctly, Endgame in WOW favors PVE (although it has improved for PVP) and Endgame in WAR is totally PVP. If I were just looking for a cool PVE experience I'd never look at WAR over WOW.
In the long term, it could even conceivably turn out that the arena is the only form of MMORPG PvP that works...

I disagree. I think that PvP will be enhanced far beyond what we see now, and might very well be enhanced with PvE components as the means of offering a more advanced type of character progression, which is what PvP -needs- in my opinion. A lot of people seem to like the idea of a true "E-Sport" PvP model, but I think that a progression towards that will only limit what developers will choose to add to PvP, simply because balance reigns supreme in an e-sport type of setting, which will result in more static content and a lack of goals or progression in the long run.
Chris, don't real sport players improve over time? (At least until they get old or injured, anywho.) Couldn't there be a way to have progression while still maintaining balance for the event in question? Even if it's something like A, AA, or AAA Baseball, where individual player progression sort of determines the overall balance? Say, a given game, while still "baseball", can be vastly different from another game while still being more or less balanced for the teams in question.

Say, a AAA team can have three "level 70s" or four "level 53s" while a AA team can have five "level 15s" or three "level 25s"... of course, that would mean narrower power bands, but the principle is the same. It's almost like a Battletech Clan arranged fight, where dropweight is the same for each side, but they can bring whatever mechs they want to.
Sirpwnalot: You are right about the endgame, but I don't see the connection between the end-game and market-share. As a reason to play a game , its like working out which team sport has the highest pro salaries before you start throwing/kicking a ball round your back yard.

Very few people get to play professional sport, but if a war happens, everyone tends to get involved. The issue is that they are not likely to enjoy the experience...
I am a big fan of PVP in general but i'm not at all impressed by WoW's version, the arena in particular. Dress it up however you like, it's still just rock/paper/scissors with a dash of RNG and the battle is really won or lost at the character creation screen. That doesn't mean it isn't fun; It is and I'm really looking forward to Lake Wintergrasp. But it's not skill-based and it's not really satisfying.

Early indications are that Warhammer has produced a better PvP mechanic but that's almost irrelevant since the basic PvP element is the guild. Finding the right guild will be key to enjoying this game as the first commenter pointed out, much more so than in WoW because outside of RvR there really is nothing else to do at endgame. How this imperative will impact on casual players can't really be assessed at this early stage of the game - only as more people reach 40 and the community matures on each server will we know how welcoming or otherwise the established guilds will be of the less than "hardcore".

And speaking of servers, i've no numbers obviously but i'd guess there are 25-50% too many for the current population. Thoughts?
What you find "fun" may be banal drudgery to another. Some like story, some like beating toons, some prefer human opponents, some just like to farm with a little fun guild chatter on the side, most like to do a little of everything.

The success of an MMO depends on whether it can cater to most of these different needs *over a sustained period of time* - without the player feeling bored and leaving the game. The beauty of WoW is its mass appeal. WoW's player base has grown into a self-sustaining community with a life of its own. It'll be a while before any MMO can go viral like WoW did.
The big appeal to me of WAR (and it still needs a few months to see if it will work for me) is an inclusive endgame. The idea of the big sieges that need small and large guilds on one faction to work together is like a breath of fresh air compared to the elitism and 'omg will my class/spec be able to get group/raid spots' of WoW.

I enjoy WAR PvP but I think I'd be just as happy with a PvE game that got rid of the frantic elitism and made it easier to grab a useful PUG raid. DaoC, for all its flaws, actually did this well. I used to run huge public master level raids there and they were fun. Still waiting for a current gen game to do something similar.
IMO, WAR endgame isn't PvP... it's larger scale than that. I know people have heard the mantra "RvR isn't PvP" until they're sick of it, but there is some truth there. Zergs aren't mindless... if they're well-led and well-crewed. The strategy is just larger scale than "hit-1,2,3,get behind them and hit 2,3,4".

It's a wargame, not an arena.

Or it would be if scenarios weren't dominating gameplay. I enjoy scenarios. But they're e-sports, neither old-school PvP or large scale RvR.
I'm sure I'm not the only one that likes to do both, just from anecdotal experience most people I've known in WoW dabble in both areas of the game. And WoW is still the best at serving those who enjoy both aspects.
I don't think WAR will ever get the majority of pvpers. Not because I don't think they have a great premise, but because I don't think they can beat Blizzard at improving their game. By the time they iron out all the wrinkles from WAR, finish the end game, fix things like mail and their AH, Blizzard will have added rated battlegrounds designed in such a way to encourage guilds to organize large competitive premade teams, something that many pvpers in WoW want. And Lake Wintergrasp will either be a huge hit, or they'll figure out how to fix it so that it becomes a huge hit if it doesn't work out at first. Blizzard is learning, and while I think they should be moving faster, I'm willing to wait for them to improve their pvp game, because I now think they will do that.

It comes down to this: Blizzard is constantly improving WoW, and they have a head start, and WAR at best is not improving any faster.

And with it's larger and more mature player base, I think it will be easier for larger groups to organize for PvP in WoW, they just need a a reason and location for them to put to use their organization.
Started to reply but it got too long. Basically I think WoW is more highly polished than other games, and that MMO PvP is behind in evolutionary terms compared to PvE. However, PvE has a long way to go as well.Read here for more detail on these thoughts (no, I'm not selling WoW gold :p)
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