It’s no secret that ArenaNet is trying to put Guild Wars 2 on the fast track to prominent eSport status. They’ve designed sPvP to fit the model like a glove, more so than Blizzard with WoW. Announcements have been made that popular sites like Arena Junkies and the Electronic Sports League are already paving the way for coverage.
I don’t know where I stand on eSports — I really don’t. On one hand I think they’re entertaining to watch and get into, but on the other hand (a first hand) I’ve seen what trying to design towards them does to a game. Before we begin, I know some of you absolutely love eSports and the type of gameplay that accompanies it. Realize that we will disagree from hereon out, but try to see the perspective I am presenting.
In my opinion, eSports ruined World of WarCraft’s PvP. One shot, clean kill, done deal. Before battlegrounds, PvP in WoW had the potential to go the way of a true Horde vs. Alliance territory struggle and develop into something that fit both the lore of WarCraft, and the game’s natural tendencies at the time. Battlegrounds came in, and in short order became a stepping stone to what is now the ever-popular Arena season model and a complete alteration to the game. PvP revolves around arenas from gearing the most points (the best type of points) to getting the best gear.
Guild Wars 2 has one thing going for it, and that’s the fact that sPvP is almost a clean break from the rest of the game. You have your main character that you use in PvE and World vs. World, but the second you go into the staging area for sPvP that character becomes almost like a different version of your character — a modifiable template character for the class you’re playing — and carries nothing over the line (either way) to impact the rest of the game.
I have confidence that this separation will remain in tact and nothing ‘physical’ will transfer. There’s nothing stopping the mentality, though. World vs. World is teetering on the edge of greatness and short-term intrigue. The history of this industry shows that it doesn’t take much for a MMORPG company to cater to the extremely popular, public, and vocal community rallying around the sPvP type of gameplay.
If sPvP becomes more popular than WvW, which could EASILY happen, what will happen to WvW? Balancing for a 5v5 game -will- impact balance for the 100 vs. 100 vs. 100 gameplay in World vs. World. The same goes for WvW impacting sPvP balance; I don’t want to be one-sided here. But if sPvP has the interest of millions, and WvW interests thousands, which do you think will influence design?
Guild Wars 2 can’t have it both ways unless the template sPvP characters receive balance changes independent of how the rest of the game is balanced. Correct me if I’m wrong, but right now sPvP and the rest of the game are not separate in terms of stats, abilities, etc. Sounds like a simple fix to me, or at least the first step towards remedying the situation. Next step will be to ensure that WvW is fun enough, and being developed for enough, that it will continue to interest players long-term.
So, that’s just me finding a thread, following where it goes, trying to spot potential snags that will cause the whole thing to unravel. It’s what I do. Forgive my theorycrafting!