Team-based competitions, at least in the mind of this editor, are some
of the most heated events I’ve ever been a part of. Rather
than simply relying on your own skills and abilities to defeat your
opponents, you’re also at the mercy of your teammates and
their weaknesses. It doesn’t matter if you’re on
the football field or in a Knowledge Bowl round; if you have one person
that isn’t pulling their weight the rest of the team will
suffer because of it.
The PvP Arena system was introduced in WoW's Burning Crusade expansion.
The competitive spirit in these battles is obvious. Players want to prove that they’ve created the best build for Arena PvP and no one, not even the guy with the immense flaming sword, can prove otherwise. If you’re not prepared to cycle through your opponents faster than you can think, you’d better hang up your boots because you’re going to get punched in the nose so hard you’ll have snot bubbles coming out your butthole.
Although many MMO gamers would state otherwise, the World of Warcraft Arena system (which is very similar to what ArenaNet originally introduced to the MMO scene with Guild Wars) is the bread and butter of team-based competition in MMOs. While many individuals can point to their piles of l33t l00t or hoard of purple items, nothing states “I’m better than you” more than a unique title like “Gladiator” or “Duelist.” That said, gamers still need to be competent in other areas of World of Warcraft besides PvP to be able to stand a chance in the Arena. Most skilled combatants use a combination of gear earned from raiding, faction grinding, battleground combat, and other sources to create the perfect set of Arena gear.
A number of players complain about how PvP affects their PvE stats.
Seeing the popularity of the Arena system, Blizzard decided to leverage their experience in the realm of e-sports to create the ultimate level playing field. Last year, Blizzard announced that WoW players could spend $20 to be entered into the ultimate Arena tournament, where players are all given the same assortment of gear and talent points and the winning team actually takes home a nice cash prize. While Blizzard didn’t give out any numbers, I’m sure we can safely assume that thousands of players entered and took part in this epic contest. The finale, which was broadcast live from BlizzCon 2008, featured Nihilum Plasma facing off against the selective queuers and the team from across the Altantic Ocean pulled off the victory.
Perhaps the most fascinating prospect about the World of Warcraft Arena system is the fact that gamers who actually succeed and continually win in these virtual cage matches actually garner a degree of popularity. Players who are heralded as being "the best of the best" often get a variety of sponsorships from gaming hardware companies, energy drink manufacturers, and humorous t-shirt vendors. Anyone that takes a quick look at the Nihilum website quickly notices the branding by Dell, Razer, Intel, and the huge amount of merchandise that's available in the guild's web shop.
Nihilum Plasma won the BlizzCon 2008 Arena tournament.
Next week, I'm going to be taking a look at some of the online games and development companies that aren't necessarily MMO-focused but are being absorbed by some of the bigger MMO networks (see NCsoft and SOE). As always, thanks for reading In the Trenches, and if you ever have any questions, comments or have an idea for an article, shoot me an email or post on the forums. Until next week, dig deep, fight hard, and kick 'em where it hurts.