If there had been no arenas...

| Wednesday, May 27, 2009
I wonder how things would have turned out. I'm going to take them as a total package of ratings, little boxes, powerful PvP gear, and the increased focus on PvP. Maybe that makes the last one the best question, how would things have turned out with less focus on PvP?

With no microscope to PvP balance, we'd have probably seen fewer PvP buffs and nerfs. This would mean weaker balance. As a result of that, BGs would have even worse balance. If you think DKs are bad now, imagine before all the nerfs. Some balancing would have still happened, but I think a lot less and PvE would have been driving more of the balance, at the potential cost of PvE. Strangely, arenas may have saved BGs.

However I cannot say this is absolute. BGs survived for years with terrible balance. They had rewards, but the time cost was high and I'm not even thinking of the rank rewards. TUF was a pretty powerful weapon, comparable to MC weapons and not too much worse than BWL; however it required exalted with AV and that was a long grind. Other BGs offered powerful gear, with WSG having some of the most powerful pants in the game (at least as I remember), but WSG exalted is possibly one of the longest grinds ever. BGs might have persisted with a new level of terrible grinds, though Blizzard would have to figure out a way to not instantly hand out gear because someone hit exalted at 60.

Without the powerful gear given by arenas we'd likely see the continuation of the old PvE to PvP. BGs would be dominated by PvErs, not PvPers. Again, arenas may have saved BGs. Or could updated rep items been strong enough? They likely would not have lasted through the addition of new raid tiers.

But without the surge of PvP gear from arenas and the non-set honor pieces, would we have played differently? Arenas, more than BGs, drive players to improve their gear. Without arenas would people have chased PvP gear as much? Would Blizzard have even added PvP gear? Without the gear motivation, BGs would exist only for PvP, not for gear collection. But we'd also see fewer people, since they tend to follow the gear. Arenas saved and/or killed BGs.

I benefited and/or was indirectly hurt by arena gear. The pieces from it allowed me to get T6 equivalent despite having no chance at all at BT. While some stats were wasted on resilience and excess stam, arenas allowed me to reach a much higher level of gear than I could have otherwise. This saved me from needing to compete for T4 and allowed me much higher damage than I'd have had otherwise. However it also made me care much less about early raids, it removed an incentive to raid.

Could arenas have hurt or helped raiding? They did provide an alternate and often easier source of gear. However that gear might have been beneficial, allowing a player to effectively get the gear from a boss before killing it, allowing for faster and further progression.

What do you think would have happened without arenas?


dink1722 said...

Rated battlegrounds. Better battlegrounds and fixes for the old. Alternative leveling through battlegrounds/pvp.

Arena could go away today and a large portion of WoW players would be happy.

Hana said...

Back in vanilla WoW a far smaller percentage of population raided so many people viewed 60 BGs as their end game. They'd hope to get up to maybe one of the middle ranks (maybe even within 3-4 ranks of Grand Marshal/High Warlord) and that would be their peak.

These people would never see MC or BWL. The gear they would get from BGs wouldn't be top of the line, but still very good, especially for a non-raider.

That's not so different from how late TBC was, except that all the PvP rewards were now purple instead of blue and we can replace MC/BWL with Black Temple/Sunwell.

I don't think arenas have removed the incentive to raid. Certainly during Season 5 the opposite was true. People who didn't raid got decimated by the raiders because the raid gear was so much better than the PvP gear (due to resilience being too low).

Raiders also got to buy Hateful gear with their emblems of valor without spending either honor or arena points.

What I do feel has been hurt by arena are the BGs. I feel like I only do BGs for honor now, and it all comes down to which BG gives me the most honor for the amount of time spent so I can make sure I have enough to go buy my gear. I miss playing the BGs I like because I like them rather that maximizing my honor gain.

Klepsacovic said...

@dink1722: Also a large potion would be unhappy. If I had to guess, I'd say there's a higher chance of losing customers by removing arenas than losing by keeping them in.

@Hana: I wish I could find some hard statistics on what percentage raided MC or ZG/AQ20 compared to Karazhan. My own perspective is pretty biased because I did raid MC and had started BWL and when I didn't raid it was by a very conscious choice (I refused to join any guilds for a while), so to me, raiding seemed common, not a rare exception. Clearly there was a huge drop off from MC to BWL and probably even bigger to AQ40 and Naxx (the stats I've seen were something less than 5% ever saw it at 60). Late TBC felt a bit different, perhaps a bit less biased against those people who have no good name: casuals, non-raiders, no name really works.

It is a shame that BGs have become an honor grind. Yet I wonder if they were anything different ever? I suppose under the old honor system they were a grind for those going for extremely high ranks (an unhealthy grind on some servers) while for others there was less grind simply because it was impossible with the time they had. Maybe when there's no hope of gear we have no choice but to have fun. :P

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