Five Reasons Why Open PvP Communities are Growing

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With the craziness surrounding the Darkfall release really reaching a head these last few weeks, an interesting subplot arose in my competitive vision. While World of Warcraft definitely has garnered its own share of PvP fanatics, there’s a distinct difference between faction-based PvP and open PvP. In fact, there’s so much difference between the two that entire communities have sprung up around games – Darkfall, EVE Online and Mortal Online in particular – that espouse the novelty of having a truly open world where anyone can gank anyone else anytime of the day or night.

Darkfall's release has open PvPers in a frenzy.

So why do these communities exist? What drives these players of short tempers and bloody blades to band together in roving bands of homicidal tendencies and blade-in-the-dark conspiracies? I have a few theories (and they’re only that) and some opinions, but I certainly encourage everyone to jump in and help me figure out why these open PvP titles create such a stir.

1. Hostility Feeds Off Hostility – The most obvious theory in my list points to the natural flavor of these players and their desire to have more of it. It takes a special type of person to play in an open PvP game: the vast majority of open PvPers seem to take pride in their skills while also being eager to jump into the fray with anyone that steps over that imaginary line. These players are like that guy in your local bar that is always itching to be the first one to throw a punch, even when the offense is little more than a spilled drink. These individuals attract more of their kind simply by existing, and the same can be said about the uber-aggressors in open PvP communities. These guys want to fight you, and they want to fight you now. It’s not a bad thing, but a community built around these individuals certainly has a high risk factor involved for the new player.

2. Gamers Want That “True” Experience – Few MMOs since the original EverQuest and Ultima Online have really felt like a “true” experience. I use the word “true” in this case to define that sort of table-top gaming experience that many of us grew up with. While it still seems technically impossible to allow gamers to do everything that you might be able to do in an imaginary world like D&D, the concept of having a group of developers making your game to simply “give you the rules” and nothing else is exotic and enticing. EVE Online has displayed this idea time and time again, and both Mortal Online and Darkfall seem to have this theory behind their development teams. Gamers want to feel like their world is limitless and the very notion of open PvP drives that point home. Once you start building faction-based PvP into the game, there’s already an automatic wall that you’ve built around yourself. Even EverQuest (at least in the early days) gave you the option to chat with “The Priest of Discord” and make yourself PvP-viable.

3. Open PvPers Love the Challenge - As we’ve written about on Ten Ton Hammer over the last few weeks, many online gamers are looking for the game that stops the hand-holding and lets them go into the world to discover things on their own. In these games, the learning process becomes part of the game itself. On top of that, players that learn through trial-and-error often feel invested in their game to the point that once they’ve given a solid chunk of hours, there’s no going back. Open PvP ups that ante tenfold. Even with a “safe zone” available in many open PvP games, players still feel that the challenge of open PvP forces them to dedicate themselves to their game. Even though I haven’t had an opportunity to jump into Darkfall yet, I feel an almost gravitational pull towards the game simply to see if I can be savvy enough to work my way up in their world without falling prey to another character. Even if it did happen, I know I would do my best to track that person down once I’ve reestablished my character in the world.

Mortal Online looks to provide phenomenal visuals for its players.

4. Roleplayers Love Open PvP – Wait, wait, wait. Before you all start jumping up and down and waving your arms in the air like you just don’t care, let me explain myself. While it may not be necessarily true that “roleplayers love open PvP,” I think it is true that roleplayers love the idea and expanding boundaries of open PvP. Think about it for a second: Roleplayers are all about freedom and creativity. While many games offer a nice framework for RP options in their game, nothing seems quite as honestly limitless and “creative” as open PvP. Although their may not be hundreds of active roleplaying guilds scrambling to get into games like Darkfall, I think there are a number of roleplayers on the forums of these games, and these roleplayers tend to be very, very vocal. I know there’s a fairly large contingent of roleplayers in EVE Online, and there were plenty of RPers in the RPvP servers in Age of Conan. Don’t believe me? Just ask these girls.

5. It’s a Fad – Just like the fashion industry, the massively multiplayer online gaming space is just as susceptible to fads as the next arena. While it may take developers several thousand times longer to create a working MMO than it takes fashion designers to create the next “hot” t-shirt, players can certainly be swayed into buying and participating in games that they might not have had any interest in a few years ago. A little more than six months ago, no one had heard of Mortal Online and even fewer people had any interest in Darkfall. Yet here we are at the start of 2009 and players are clamoring to get into Darkfall and drooling over the premise of Mortal Online’s open PvP. Not only that, but EVE Online is heading up their biggest marketing push to date, re-releasing the game in stores and hoping that their open PvP ideals take hold. These communities are coming together simply to embrace this growing fad. While the excitement may or may not last forever, it is certainly causing quite the stir.

No where can I get in line to get a copy of Darkfall?

Agree with me? Disagree? Let me know on the forums or simply drop me a line via email. Otherwise, keep your head low because you’re In the Trenches.
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