The Daily Grind: Do you approach all MMOs with PvP as ‘PvP games’?


I saw a thought-provoking exchange on Reddit this week that’s too good to sit on. It was in a thread for an MMORPG in which players were complaining about rampant ganking in said MMORPG. Here we go.

How many times have you seen this exact argument? I mean, really both of these dudes have a fair point. The game in question – like nearly every other MMO that includes some form of free-for-all open PvP – intentionally advertises itself to lots of different niches. Yes, it markets itself as having old-school PvP, but it also markets itself as having PvE, dungeons, housing, crafting, and so forth, because it wants more than just PvP players to buy and populate it. People hear the part they want to hear.

Wolves-vs.-sheep templates aside, everyone who shows up really does have a dramatically different idea of what the game actually is and what they’re expected to be doing in it most of the time. In my estimation, it’s one of the core problems with MMO sandboxes and survival sandboxes, that some people treat them as murder simulators and others as virtual worlds, and companies happily make money in the margins (right up until they run out of sheep, anyway).

How do we solve this – and can we? Do you approach MMOs with PvP as “PvP games” or as “MMOs that include PvP as one of its many things to do”? Do you think this is a problem with MMO players, a problem with PvP, a problem with “sandboxes,” or a problem that ultimately lies with the developers and marketers themselves?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!

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Well written article with great observations. Some good questions that I wish more developers would ask themselves, before sitting down and writing out their design documents. (Yes, I believe the responsibility lies on developers, with the way they choose to design and market their product.)


It’s a problem with the developers as they are the ones continuing to try to shoe horn games like this. They make it so the PvE crowd has to venture into a PvP area to get the best materials to craft items or get the best gear drops. They tell you that you can play the game without getting into PvP and then lie by omission with respect to you getting the “best” stuff.

This gets fixed by a developer with backbone making a straight PvE/Dungeon/crafting Sandbox MMO and another making a PvP Sandbox (no PvE) and seeing how they fare. Arguably Camelot Unchained is going to be the latter (kudos to MJ) so now we just need someone to do the former.

Fenrir Wolf

It wouldn’t be a problem if it were managed and developed intentionally. It is to laugh, though, eh? That’s like wishing for the grooviest super harvest moon.

The only things you’d really need to fix this is balance separated between PvP & PvE, and PvP being opt-in. The opt-in nature of PvP would actually use instancing technology to silently shift you to a different instance if you try to attack a player who’s flagged for PvP, or a town guard, or even engage in a duel. This way it doesn’t interrupt the PvE players.

Sure, WoW has this option, but it also has contested zones which is bad design through and through. If you have a toggle in your options, no one but the player should be able to change that. And there isn’t any proper instancing happening at all, is there?

It’s just easier to be lazy and cheap, one supposes. It’s the nature of capitalism. I feel that a game that took more steps to allow both parties to have fun without having to experience negativity from the other side would probably be quite popular.

But what do I know?


The opt-in nature of PvP would actually use instancing technology to silently shift you to a different instance if you try to attack a player who’s flagged for PvP, or a town guard, or even engage in a duel. This way it doesn’t interrupt the PvE players.

The ‘Defiance’ games actually do this. The system is called “Shadow Wars”. It works really well, their many other problems, aside.


Like others have said, if you cannot avoid the PvP then it’s a pure PvP game and should be treated as such.

If the PvP is optional (e.g. using flagging, or restricting it to specific zones) then it’s not a PvP game.

The issue does lie mainly with the developer themselves (they built the game and should anticipate how players will use it) and partially with the marketing department (if they have misled players).

The core of the problem is that developers are STILL hung up on single player mechanics. Take a quick look around and you’ll find that most MMORPGs are still using mechanics from single player RPGs which simply do not work. For example, vertical progression. In single player and co-op RPGs, vertical progression makes sense as it is a very simplistic way to track progression and provide the illusion of difficulty. In a multiplayer game, especially one with PvP, it just screws everything up. The imbalance it creates is insurmountable and has led to the death of every single pvp community in MMOs.

Sarah Cushaway

If it’s an OWPVP system it’s a pvp game (and I avoid it like the plague).


If I cannot avoid the PvP, then it is a PvP game.

Fervor Bliss

For me there is 2 types.
PvP where everyone is basically on the same level.
PvP where uber levels and uber gear takes all the contest out of PvP. (boring)

Castagere Shaikura

I don’t play any MMO that forces you to PVP. It’s a lame excuse to have PVP as end game content or force a PVE player to quest in zones with open PVP. A lot of eastern MMO’s do this too. They are two extremely different play styles and should always be the players choice. Players should always have control of how they want to play.


Can you opt out of the PvP in such a way that there is never chance for a player to harm you?
If yes: It’s not a PvP game.
If no: It’s a PvP game.
Full stop.

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Paragon Lost

For my first 15 or so years online I thought that they could be totally compatible. I loved pvp and I loved pve, sure why not. My feeling was that they were being implemented and enforced incorrectly.

In the last ten or so years I’ve started to feel differently. Currently I feel that open pvp and pve in the game world can not be blended in a way that works in a way that feels satisfactory for most parties.

Having isolated battlegrounds pretty much is the only way to add pvp to an mmorpg at this time that doesn’t cause more issues than it’s worth. Otherwise the best approach for an mmorpg is that it’s either an pve game world or a pvp game world.