Posted by: L1H | April 16, 2009

Care Bears Secretly Love PvP

After reading a couple articles at Massively, like this one: You don’t need PvP to be sucessful, honest, my ears perked up.  The author makes the case that PvP isn’t needed in our games, that trying to squeeze every feature (like PvP) in your MMO isn’t as effective as trying to just pick a few features and executing them better than the other guy.

While I agree that catering to a niche market is much more effective than trying to be everything to everyone, I completely disagree with the author’s assertion that PvP isn’t needed in a MMO.

The simple fact of the matter is that players want PvP – even Care Bears.

PvP isn’t an anti-social activity like many would have you believe.  PvP is actually just one of many ways we socialize in these virtual spaces.  Humans seem to be hard wired to socialize and compete: perhaps an adapted behavior from our hunter-gatherer origins.

“But I prefer PvE games, I don’t want to deal with gank squads and griefing.”

I hear you, but consider this: even in your strictly PvE game, you participate in PvP activities every day you log in.  It’s true!  What do you think your harmless auction house is?  It’s a PvP arena in disguise.  

Showing off epic loot is no different than peacocks competing for a female’s attention.  Being the first guild to defeat a raid, racing to level cap, spawn camping, literally competing for resource nodes: these are all devices of competition that players participate in – and while it’s a more insidious kind of PvP – it’s player versus player nonetheless.

“But I like to work with people, to be a part of a team and tackle content together.”

So do I, but nothing brings people together like PvP.  PvP not only generates content by virtue of its combat interactions, PvP actually spawns a wealth of content outside the game itself: forums, guilds, alliances, and many other tiers of socialization that are critical in a PvP setting: strength in numbers, organization, tactics, enemy of my enemy is a friend, PvP breathes life into our MMO games and social interplay.

“I hate the idea of being set back by some Pker, I don’t want to lose any progression because I get ganked on my way to the bank.”

This is where the true discord exists for players on the PvP issue: impact and consent.

Some players prefer high impact PvP with full corpse looting, experience loss, and the risk of PvP anytime, anywhere.  Others prefer consensual PvP zones with low impact death penalties like debuffs and no item loss.

Care Bears aren’t scared of PvP they just prefer it on their own terms in a controlled environment, and I can’t blame them, but don’t let anyone tell you they aren’t into PvP.

You know what scares me more than a roaming squad of Pkers?  A warband full of Care Bears that catch me alone – they stupidly engulf my helpless avatar like a school of great white sharks: black doll eyes roll into their heads as they spam click my dead corpse hoping to loot something of value.  I’m not even human to them – I’m just a walking loot box!  The humanity!


EVE online, for example, features both high and low impact PvP, and blurs this distinction in a wonderful way: you get to choose your level of risk and impact the closer you go towards 0.0 space, where PvP goes from being unlikely to probable.

Wizard 101 implemented PvP (yes, you read that right) featuring duels, team matches, and arena rankings.  It’s one of Wizard 101’s most popular features.  These kids aren’t carrying around UO or SWG baggage, they simply like what they like and PvP is an attractive feature for them.

Next time you hear someone say that PvP isn’t needed for a MMO to be successful, that they don’t have the stomach or interest to compete online, just agree with them.  It won’t be long before that same person is telling you about an auction of theirs where some idiot grossly overpaid for a stack of ore.

PvE indeed.



  1. […] 1 Human argues that even care bears secretly love PvP… and his argument makes […]

  2. Almost as soon as the Arenas were introduced into W101 my 8 y/old son stopped leveling his Wizard with me and instead wanted to Duel. We did a couple of Duels then I went back to the grind while he stayed in the Arenas. I think I posted a recap on my Blog…nope, can’t seem to find it…unless I forgot to Tag it. Oops.

    I don’t like the ganking of PvP, although I have (had) a couple of WoW toons on PvP servers. Questing in contested areas did have a certain tension missing from PvE servers. What was not so fun was heading into Lakeshore or Duskwood, and getting ganked just seconds after entering the zone by a Stealthed Rogue. Obviously he was just sitting there, waiting for lowbies like me to come waltzing along the road, but at least it was a good reminder/wake-up call. “John, this is not your old PvE server.”

  3. I’d be willing to bet that a care bear would be more inclined to be “dishonorable” in PvP than a “hardcore pvper”.

    Good read.

  4. i am a care bear and yes i do like pvp. and no i dont fight honuarbly simply cause of the gate camps and ganks as a carebear i have to endure thats hardly honourable. so yes i fight dirty. i wont explain tactics im sure there are guides that can do it so much better than me.

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