PvP: A Niche Issue?

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Man, I *really* don’t PvP that often because this is the most recent PvP related photo I could find!

One of Blizzard’s overarching goals seems to be to get people involved.  Lower the entry requirements and really get players to play all aspects of the game.  From this philosophy we saw features such as Looking for Group, Looking for Raid, and the battleground queueing system as well as world quests, bonus weekends, and satchels.  There are lots of incentives and rewards out there to get players to try new things and, to some extent, it seems to have worked.

On the PvE side for example, raiding is now more accessible than ever.  LFR has given countless players the opportunity to experience the raids while the new Group Finder has made it easier than ever to find a run and jump right in.  I am obviously a bit biased, being a raider surrounded by raiders, but it seems to me that more people are raiding.  What once was a 1% of the population activity now seems to be more like 15 or 20% (I’m totally guessing at numbers here but I do think it is higher than it once was).

But not only is raiding more accessible, raiding also feels more accessible.  That is an important distinction because if something feels easier to jump in, people will be more willing to jump in.  Case in point, my own father, who has gone on record as saying that raiding is the most stressful thing in the game, regularly runs LFR and has been on a number of normal runs.  The stigma that used to be associated with raiding – that it’s difficult and that it’s elitist – seems to be going away.

While I’m not actually within the PvP scene itself, I’m not so sure the same can be said for player vs player.  Even with all the incentives, the artifact skins and the mounts and the achievements, PvP still appears to be just as niche as it has been before.  Why isn’t PvP popularizing like PvE?

To answer this question, I ran an informal poll on my twitter.  Over the course of three days, I collected 127 votes and while the results aren’t surprising, they are rather telling.

(Quick note: this poll was by no means the end all be all on the PvP issue.  Rather, it provided a snapshot of what a small portion of the WoW community thinks.  I’d like to think that the people it reached were diverse in their WoW backgrounds but since I have no way of verifying that, I’ll say this was as random and as widespread as I could get it)

50%, half of the respondents, cited Toxic Behavior as their number one reason that keeps them from PvPing.  Whether this is true or not, it seems a large portion of the sample group believes that the PvP community is negative and nasty.  And this idea is not unique to the poll; I’ve seen similar sentiments echoed all across the Warcraft world and community at large.  PvP has a really bad rap and it’s actively discouraging people from joining in.

The second most chosen answer was that folks weren’t interested, clocking in at 25% of the votes.  Whether this is due to the basic nature of PvP or it’s current iteration, I cannot be sure but it also seems that a good chunk of people just have no interest in that type of gameplay.  If I had been able to contact everyone that voted for this option to ask them if anything would be able to interest them in PvP, I absolutely would have but since I cannot, I’m going to assume their disinterest is static and unchanging.

The least chosen option of the three defined choices was that the entry barrier is too high.  About 14% of voters chose this option which, to me, points out something very important.  PvP isn’t seen as something incredibly hard to jump into.  People aren’t terribly concerned about their skills being lacking. Dislike of PvP stems directly from the players in the term players vs players.

The remaining 11% of the votes went to a variety of different issues within the Other category.  However, there was one recurrent idea that I think merits discussion: reward.  A good number of people felt like the rewards weren’t worth the time put in.  Why spend an hour PvPing and getting barely 200 honor when you can go and run multiple different dungeons with dozens of potential drops? Unless you win all the time forever, PvP rewards aren’t all that amazing.

I do realizing that I’m comparing apples and oranges a bit here; PvP and PvE are such completely different beasts that it’s hard to explain why one is becoming more accessible while the other remains niche.  However, just like apples and oranges are both round fruits with star shaped seed patterns, PvP and PvE do have similar elements.  For one, I think both can be activities that any WoW player feels confident to jump in and try.

So what’s the number one issue keeping PvP niche? I’d say it’s the stigma.  But unlike the difficulty and elitism that PvE suffered, this cannot be solved by adding an easier difficulty with queue.  PvP already has that to an extent, it’s called unrated battlegrounds.  What exactly can Blizzard do?

One solution that I’ve heard and really liked is the idea of an arsehole’s league.  The players who are constantly being abusive and rude get sorted into separate games with all the other jerks.  Such a system would, quite literally, remove a lot of the negativity from PvP by isolating it all by itself in a sort of corner of shame.  The people who are constantly being reported for bad behavior get a punishment that actually could stop the behavior from being a prevalent.

A dynamic system to control toxicity as well as maybe a rebalancing of rewards and I think PvP could become a lot more approachable.  And of course, the success of such a system would rely on Blizzard actively advertising the new changes to get the word out there.

So what do you folks, the readers, think? How would you change PvP from a niche activity to a more widely played one?

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2017 New Year’s Resolutions

suramar

…Also known as, ‘getting back on the bandwagon’.

It’s been a while since I’ve updated the blog and for that, I owe all my readers and explanation and an apology.

My main New Year’s Resolution for 2016 was to “post a minimum of 5 blog posts a month”.  For the first half of the year, I was very good about this.  I was rocking and rolling, writing and posting prolifically.  Around about summer time, the number of posts I was putting out decreased while the length got significantly longer.  So, while I wasn’t maintaining the letter of my resolution, I maintained the spirit.

And then, my next year of school began.  When I established my resolution, I didn’t really think very far ahead.  Specifically, I didn’t take into account that 2016 would include one of my most academically rigorous years.  All of a sudden, I didn’t have very much free time.  Both my post number and post length dropped significantly.  I started feeling really guilty, like I was failing the blog.  Writing became a chore and a checklist rather than a hobby.  And as a result, even when I did find the free time, I didn’t have the motivation to write anymore.

As much as I’d like to blame this on my super busy schedule, the reality is my lack of writing was partly my fault.  I didn’t set a realistic goal and turned something I enjoyed into something I avoided.  It was a self fulfilling cycle; I didn’t write because I didn’t want to and then I felt awful about not writing, which further decreased my motivation.

Regarding my other, non-writing related resolutions, I actually faired much better.  I completed Heroic Hellfire Citadel, even going so far as to help out with Moose group carries and venture into Mythic.  I started the Ironman Challenge but didn’t get much farther than that due to Legion (it’s still on my to do list though). I did go and try out a bit of open world role play but the bigger achievement there was the writing I did associated with it.  I established backstories and wrote dozens of little vignettes for my characters. And, I completed scores of transmog sets I’d been meaning to build, thanks in part to the new transmog system.

Now that brings us to this New Year. 2017.  I still want to set goals because I know I’m a very checklist oriented person.  But I know I cannot do what I did last year.  Goals are wonderful, but so is being able to reach them.

My Resolutions for 2017

1) Write consistently and write for myself
A lot less concrete than my previous writing goals to be sure, but I hope this will bring me more success.  I do want to keep writing and keep writing all year but setting a quantitative goal hasn’t been the best way.  It’s about the quality of the writing.  For the new year, I want to make sure I write stuff that I love because I love to do it.  Not to cross off a checklist, not because I ‘need’ to, but because I ‘want’ to.

2) Post more stories
I’ve done a little of this in the past, but I really want to publish more of the short stories that I write.  Creative writing is something I don’t get to do as often but I thoroughly enjoy it.  By giving my work an audience, I think I might be inspired to write even more! And I mean, I’d love to get some of these ideas out of my head and onto a page.

3) Integrate my artistic side into the blog more
Surprise surprise, I’m actually a painter! You wouldn’t really know by reading through my blog so I’d like to change that!  Whether that be writing about my art, including my art as article headers, or maybe even doing art giveaways, I’m working on ways of bringing paint into my posts.

4) Complete Suramar (and whatever max level story follows it)
I have a confession to make: I rarely ever finish the max level stories outside of the ones told in raids.  It’s not for lack of wanting its just, when you main a healer, smacking mobs in the face takes a lot more time.  This expansion though, aided by my newfound viable holy paladin dps, I’m going to do it.  I’m going to complete Suramar and not just google the ending of the story!

5) Participate in more community building projects
There are a bunch of wonderful organizations that use WoW as a vehicle to drive positive change; Icecrown Challenge and Running of the Gnomes comes to mind immediantly but I know there are more out there.  I want to participate in as many of those as I can.  But even on a much more local level, I want to start giving back to the community.  Sending bags and gold to low level characters.  Helping new newbies find their footing. Jumping in and being that last body you need to go and run Eye of Azshara. I want to be a force of good.

Lastly, I do want to acknowledge the writing I did this past year.  While I wasn’t as prolific as I would have liked, I still wrote some pretty gosh darn good pieces if I do say so myself!

Soapbox Speech: The Truth about Leadership
A good synopsis of all of the leadership related lessons I’ve learned this year.  Also, home to one of the best lines I think I’ve ever written: “leadership is the art of knowing when to act and knowing when to ask.”

Gaining Closure
My farewell letter to my guildie Hammerstein who passed away earlier this year.  This was definitely one of the most emotional pieces I’ve written but I’m very very glad that I wrote it and I hope I’ve honored Hammer’s memory.

Official Fussypants Warcraft Movie Review!
Wow, I should really be a cinema critic! Just what the title sounds like, this is my breakdown of the strengths and weaknesses of the Warcraft movie. I was particularly proud of my ability to write a longer post and still keep it interesting and directed.

Why I Do Not Use (many) Addons
Not going to lie, I mainly wrote this post so I would have something to link every single time someone asked me to install some sort of addon I wasn’t interested in.  Luckily, I think the writing has held up pretty well and even half a year later, I’d be proud to link it!

Short Story: Trapped Part 1 and Part 2
This is definitely one of my favorite pieces that I wrote this year and it’s totally out of the style of anything else I published.  A short story about a few of my Warcraft characters (as well as one of a friend’s), I spent a very long time crafting a tale that was both entertaining and memorable.  If there’s anything you read again, I’d highly recommend this one!

So there you have it, 2016 in review.  Here’s to 2017, may the year be full of progress, success, and, of course, writing!

(Yotaan’s post should be coming Soon!)