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Editorial : Is the Arena PvP Tournament Worth the Money?

Updated Mon, Apr 28, 2008 by Messiah

PvP and the establishment of the World of Warcraft as a valid e-sport is currently a very big topic. Blizzard recently opened the 2008 World of Warcraft Arena Tournament Realm as very real proof of how serious they are about earning WoW a spot in the e-sport scene. It's a very bold concept, taking a MMOG and turning it into something very much like a First Person Shooter (FPS) for PvP combat. Will it work though, what good points does it have and what are the bad, are people willing to pay another $20 just to play in the tournaments each 6 weeks? All this and more are looked at in this editorial: Is the Arena Tournament Worth your Money?

What Exactly Is It?

For anyone that has not seen all the announcements, the 2008 Arena Tournament is a PvP tournament to find and reward the best 3v3 Arena PvP players. The tournament is being run on dedicated tournament servers where you get to create brand new characters of your choice. Don't worry though, these are not wimpy new characters, they instantly level all the way to 70 and are fully decked out in season 2 arena gear and the best weapons. Not only that, you get infinite gold to buy enchants, gems, reagents, and more. Want to learn new skills, no problem, just respec.

Full details can be found on the Blizzard 2008 Arena Tournament Page.

Making it Fair

One of the key things that it seems Blizzard wanted to do, was make the tournament about the players ability, not their gear or class.

To do that Blizzard has taken a huge number of variables out of the equation. For example, everyone starts with the best gear for their class automatically. You also can buy any enchants or gems that you want, straight from a vendor. You can respec as many times as you want to fine tune your talents.

First Impressions

So Many Vendors

When you log on to create a character, it's very cool to think that you can try any class in full gear at max level immediately. I can't count how many times I have been frustrated by a certain class and felt they were over powered in PvP, wishing I had that class instead of mine. Well now you can. With that in mind I logged on and created a Druid healer to annoy and terrorize my opponents.

Once I was on the server, I checked my bag space. Wow! All 20 slot bags, and several sets of season 2 gear (one for each spec). Top that off with 5000 gold. It feels like Christmas.

You start off in a starting zone and there are many trainers and vendors around. I found it very interesting that you could walk up and buy enchants and gems. Enchanters have been complaining forever that they could not sell enchants on the auction house. It seems that Blizzard has come up with a way to resolve this at some point if they wish, as the enchant vendor sold them as one use items, similar to leatherworker armor kits.

Once you buy your enchants and gems and get setup, you just talk to the arena master and setup a team. There are also free teleports to other starting areas to meet new players. Overall it is pretty cool.

Messiah's Take On It

Having just jumped in and tried a few battles with a few other players that were doing the same, I have to say, my first impression is a good one.

Enchants for Sale

Blizzard has taken the most successful MMOG on the market and turned it into something very similar to Counter Strike. You can log on, go head to head with a few opponents, and log off. There is no need to grind, worry about gear, money, or anything else. There is also no real concern over your class. If you want to play a rogue, you play one, if you want a druid, you play that. There is no long term investment in the character in leveling it all the way from 1 to 70.

If you live for PvP Arenas, this may just be the ideal way to play the game for you.

There are several things missing though. It is JUST Arenas, there are no MOBs, no game play, no battlegrounds, no Outlands, no anything. This makes the game seem a little sterile to me, there is just the world and the Arenas. The world is essentially just a really big lobby. I would have at least liked to see the battlegrounds open as a way to play with a few more players and to experiment with your build or a new class that you haven't played before.

Extra Gear Sets

Being able to try any class is a big reason for many players to jump into the realm though. You get to play that class that you haven't before, with no investment. If you find that you really like the way they play, then maybe it is worth the time and effort to get one from 1-70 on a real realm. I know that I am trying many new classes, just to see how they work and if I like them. Most of the other players I met said the same thing. This alone is worth the price of admission to me. If you can try a class at max level and find you don't like it, you just save 3 months of work leveling one up from scratch.

A great thing in the Arenas is that everyone has a ton of health, mana, armor, etc. This means that the games come down to skill, class choices, and team coordination. There will not be any 2 second kills here. Expect long tactical fights that push you to your limit.

Overall as you can see, I am pretty happy with the Arena Tournament Realms so far. I am having a lot of fun playing in the battles and trying out some new characters. The only issue I see, and it is a big one to me is... WoW is supposed to be an MMOG, not a FPS. Think of the time and effort that went into this, that could have been put into more PvE content. To me PvE is still king in an MMOG, even though I am gaining a healthy respect for PvP skills and abilities in it.

There are millions of players though, that spend almost all their time in the PvP aspect of the game. There are also many million more out there that love PvP and would play WoW if they could just PvP and ignore the grind As a step towards getting those players and solidifying a claim as a valid e-sport though, this is huge! While I can see right now charging extra for the tournament realm (due to prize money, being new, etc), I could very easily see this becoming a permanent thing. If it was established as another type of realm to draw in new PvP players, and including it in the normal monthly fee, WoW could probably double it's subscriber numbers inside a year. After all think of how many players out there play Counter Strike, Rainbow Six and all the rest. What if they could jump in and PvP in WoW. I am pretty sure they would swarm the servers.

The biggest issue I see right now with the whole thing though, is that if you are not good in PvP to begin with, having equal gear with everyone else is not going to help you. Add in the fact that there is prize money on the line, and the normal player has little hope on these servers. The people that sign up are those that want to win, and for the most part have at least some ability in PvP. This makes it difficult for the rest of us to get a victory or two strung together.

Overall though, I think it is worth players paying the cash to try it out and see if they like it. If for no other reason than to try the game at a high level. Long term though, I am not sure it is viable to ask players to shell out more money for a game they are already paying for. Roll it in with the normal game, and you have a reason for more players to join though.


The Messiah has had his say, what’s yours?  Did you sign up for the tournament realms? Are you enjoying it? Is it something you feel is worth the extra cash? I want to hear your comments and explanations.

Email me at: Byron Mudry - ([email protected]) or post in our forums thread!


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