Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Sheep and Wolves

It's something of an article of faith among MMO literati that hardcore PvP games with consequences cannot really thrive. The line of thought goes something like:
In a PvP game, some people are wolves and everyone else end up as sheep. Who is going to pay to be a sheep?

I can't really disagree with that argument. I rather doubt people will pay to be killed in PvP, with consequences like losing gear. But what if the idea was flipped?

If people won't pay to be sheep, will people pay to be wolves?

There are a lot of Free-2-Play games running around. What if one of the things for sale was the ability to attack and kill other characters? I.e. normally, players can't initiate attacks on other players. But if you subscribe, you can attack other players, and they can fight back. I'm talking full PvP with looting rights, a la original Ultima Online.

The thing is, in a F2P game, the players who don't pay primarily exist to entertain the the people who shell out money. To provide people to play with, to fill out dungeon groups, to create an economy that the subscriber can participate in.

It's merely a step further to suggest that, when it comes to PvP in an F2P game, the non-payers exist to be sheep for the subscriber wolves.

And hey, if you don't like being ganked, maybe you could pay more to be immune to PvP attacks.


  1. I doubt people would play, even for free, if they felt their character was being held hostage.

    "Pay us or we will let these people kill you!"

  2. Yeah, somehow this feels like a losing proposition.

    Although it might actually be quite clever, if it can drive all the non-payers and keep only the payers in a FTP game.

  3. An interesting point of view but people pay with more than just money. Time and effort also work into the equation as well.

    If I've invested time and effort into my sheep who then gets wolfed... I'm still going to quit the game.

  4. Yeesh. No. Pvp games like that last until I get killed the first time while I'm minding my own business.

    I'm a dedicated carebear (heh) and if I am responsible for - say - making sure that I have my 'you can't loot me buff' up otherwise you will get all my stuff, then I'm done with the game.

    I prefer opt-in pvp, not opt-out pvp.

    Besides, pvp games end up with a small core of dedicates willing to go the extra mile for the rush. Even in EvE, 80% of the playerbase sets up in highsec. I've yet to see a 100% pvp game where the skill inequalities that develop over time between Old Guard and Newbie don't make the game completely suck for everyone but the Old Guard. A steady influx of newbies is what keeps a game afloat.

  5. Here is my two cents. I've kinda built a reputation in WoW from dueling in Durotar and carrying people in 2's for weapons (pre cata)...and i can't tell you the amount of times i've been offered money to come save someone or greive another player. So i think people will pay for Wolves in that sense...yeah i know its kinda off topic of actual money...but the principle is the same...i wish there was a bounty system or a dueling ladder that would be some cool and interesting ways to play and promote world pvp. Now as for your idea i think its a little far fetched i agree that people might not play if they feel like there being forced because they didn't pay..no one likes to be to told what to do.....Great blog

    My WoW Blog

  6. Wouldnt work at all. On niche PvP games like Ultima Online and Darkfall, everyone would always choose the FTP option because they would just wait for P2P players to make the first move, all while gearing up for free.

  7. That system would never work, you'd only end up with a regular mmo game that has a monthly fee and no f2p-players. Here's how it works:

    The game would use some sort of a pvp flagging system and by default, all players are flagged for pvp. If you pay monthly fee, you're free to attack any pvp-flagged player, i.e. a player who doesn't pay the monthly fee. You can also pay monthly fee to get rid of your pvp-flag so that people could not attack you (or would have to jump through hoops to do so).

    So you'd have to assume that the game is fun enough for pvp players to play pvp game and to pay for it and the game has also enough pve content that some 'sheeps' would pay for it just for the convenience of not being attacked all the time.

    Only players suffering would be f2p-players who could never initiate the combat with other players, so they'd be easy prey for pvp players who can choose when they want to attack them (as you said, they can defend themselves, but the pvp player is going to attack you when you're afk, in the middle of the mob pull, using your gathering skill etc. so you've lost the combat already). No f2p player would play a game like that.

  8. Hehe, love the idea!

    Although surely the people who didn't want to be attacked just wouldn't play at all? :)

  9. Not really a nice idea for Free2Play games. PVP is a fun part of MMOs. If you don't like PVPing, just don't attack and you cannot be attacked, unless you are in an area that is allowed PVP, OR the enemy got an item that allows him to attack you. In this case, the item is got by playing the game itself not by paying money.
    This is ridiculous and I hope the russians don't read this post -_-

  10. Well, I think now(since you mentioned Ultima Online)has a insurance system now. You can insure your items you don't want to lose and if you die, it will cost you per item to keep your stuff. I used to play UO and it was a blast.

    I just hate people with mega gear(earned or bought)thinking they are better then everyone. I also hate when people talk crap to you but they won't fight you. I remember back in the day in UO, no one talked smack unless they wanted to get stomped and get all their stuff jacked. I miss those days lol.

  11. The biggest flaw here is the fact that if I can py a fee to STOP getting ganked eventually the only people playing would be those that have immunity to uninitiated PVP as the wolves have either driven away the sheep to the latest F2P MMO or forced them into paying for the game they love.

    This in turn creates a dull game for the wolf as he has no sheep to gank and he too leaves the game and the game is now doomed for a small player base or complete failure, because it simply cannot satisfyits original audience (the wolves).

  12. Very interesting idea. I don't personally like pvp in any form because it only frustrates me. I just found your blog and I am enjoying it! Please come check out mine as well and tell me what you think!

  13. A friend of mine just talked about how he thought wow would make fortune if they opened up NON pvp servers that had no battlegrounds or pvp possible.

    I have to agree. I think they'd be horrified to find out how many people would pay to move to that kind of server.