Bringing Newbies Back to PvP

Bringing Newbies Back to PvP: Part 1

Part 1: What Happened?

As many people have noticed, PvP is not the same as it used to be. The player population has declined significantly and less and less PvP matches are being played. It has gotten so bad that KI is actually making a dedicated effort to revive PvP, something that tells us that they’ve realized how much potential money they stand to lose from a failed PvP system. While there are many reasons the arena is the way it is today — one of the biggest factors is the disappearance of the new player (Newbies). This series of articles will explore the causes for this disappearance, how we can bring new players back to PvP and why a healthy newbie population is good for the game.

What Happened to the Newbies?

A quick look at the message boards, the forums or even in game will tell you that lots of new players are still playing the game — at least in PvE. So why aren’t they joining PvP? There are a number of factors.

Toxicity

This has been a complaint since almost the dawn of PvP but it is still just as valid as it once was. Players who set foot in the arena will likely encounter some form of toxicity. Toxicity takes many forms in the arena. It can take the form of insults or taunts. Or it can take the form of constant harassment or deriding a player’s chosen playstyle. It can revolve around something as small as looking down on someone for having a failed pet or imperfect gear. In the worst case scenarios, the toxicity can devolve into racial slurs, threats and emotional abuse.

While many with experience in competitive games outside of wiz know that this toxicity is unfortunately par for the course, it comes as a massive culture shock to the player base of Wizard101 (which is made of newer players and players not familiar with the competitive mmo scene). Many of these players use Wizard101 as a way to relax and de-stress. As such, the stress created by a toxic arena environment runs counter to many of these players’ reasons for playing wiz in the first place. Thus, many of these players will leave PvP as soon as they encounter this type of toxicity or avoid PvP from the start.

Consequences of toxicity

  • Deters PvE players
  • Deters new players at all level ranges
  • Leads even experienced players to quit PvP

Barrier To Entry

The barrier to entry refers to all the busywork that must be done before a player can even set foot in the arena. It refers to the gear you must acquire, the pet you must train, the spells you must craft, the jewels you must acquire etc. I have previously written in detail about the barrier to entry and ways to alleviate it. KI has addressed the scenario to an extent with the addition of a level 50 elixir and decent max lvl wands available via crafting.

However, the sheer amount of work necessary to become battle ready deters may players from even setting foot in the arena in the first place. Other motivated players may take months acquiring all the prerequisites by which time the meta may have changed, a new world may have been released etc. This usually means that the player will have to hunt for new items, new pet talents and the like which can be incredibly de-motivating. The barrier to entry is the gift that keeps on giving and it will continue to become more and more pronounced as the game expands.

Consequences of the Barrier to Entry

  • Deters max level players from participating
  • Delays motivated players from joining PvP
  • Exhausts players every meta shift (they have to hunt for new meta effective gear, design new pets etc)

Inequitable Gear

The inequitable gear problem refers to the massive stat advantages commander gear gives compared to any other acquired gear at the lower level. As a result, new players attempting to enter low level-magus PvP  are put at a humongous statistical disadvantage. This disadvantage remains even after a new age rank reset, as commander gear requires a commander rank to purchase but can be equipped by any rank. This means that at all times a new player coming into PvP at a lower level is going against a vast experience gap AND a vast equipment gap.

Consequences of Inequitable Gear

  • Deters low level and mid level wizards from joining PvP
  • Puts newbies at a massive stat disadvantage even after a PvP Age reset
  • Prevents newbies from acquiring the very gear they need to be competitive

 

Matchmaking System

Kingsisle’s matchmaking system has always had flaws and this age is no exception. Thanks to a lower player populationBringing Newbies Back to PvP: Part 1 and the algorithms of the matchmaking system- players with vast level and rank disparities often end up getting matched. A rank 0 lvl 120 vs a rank 2000 lvl 50 is sadly not an uncommon occurrence. This match-up is unfair to both parties but especially to the lvl 120 rank 0 wizard. Why? Simply, that wizard has nowhere near the vast experience that the level 50 overlord has, consequently being summarily dispatched. In these matches it is a lose-lose scenario for the inexperienced level 120.

Oftentimes the level 120 will endure taunts and jeers from the opponents and spectators who note the massive level disparity. If the inexperienced 120 wins (a rare occurrence), the level 50 will blame the victory on rng or shadow magic. If the 120 loses he/she is taunted for losing a match against a wizard more than 50 levels below.  This kind of match-up is very prevalent and is the main reason many level 50’s can obtain 2000+ rank. They simply “farm” the high level-low ranked players to quickly and consistently gain rank. As can be imagined, losing consistently to lower level wizards is incredibly demoralizing and turns many inexperienced high levels away from the arena for good.

Consequences of the Matchmaking System

  • Creates unfair match-ups for both sides
  • Deters and demoralizes new, max level PvPers
  • Prevents max level newbies from learning strategies applicable to their level range

Interview with Vanessa Mythdust

Recently, Vanessa Mythdust (PvE and Pet Derby extraordinaire) decided to give max level PvP a try for the first time. I was fortunate enough to act as her mentor for her first time through PvP. Vanessa was able to give us an interview offering her unique perspective on what it was like being a newbie entering PvP.

Eric Stormbringer- What motivated you to give PvP a try?

Vanessa Mythdust- I decided to give PvP a try in hopes of earning a PvP Warlord badge to match my Pet Warlord one. In the process, I also hoped to better understand the system and challenge myself in a different type of atmosphere.

 

Eric Stormbringer- You started PvP relatively late in your career. Why did you wait to start?

Vanessa Mythdust-  There are 2 reasons why I decided to start late. The first is that I was already involved in so many different aspects of the community. Between moderating, running derby tournaments, and helping people quest, I didn’t know if I could take on another KI hobby. So, I only decided to dip my feet in when things started to calm down for me. The other reason was PvP’s “toxic” reputation. The PvP community isn’t known for being a welcoming one, so I will admit that was somewhat of a turnoff for me.

 

Eric Stormbringer- What did you do to prepare for PvP? How long did it take?

Vanessa Mythdust-  To prepare for PvP, I tried to read a lot of guides. The problem was, I was so overwhelmed by all the information available to me. There were so many guides and different dueling suggestions that it was hard to narrow down what was useful, what was outdated, and what might actually work in the game’s current state. I also researched gear (with your help) and attempted to make my first PvP pet. I’d say total prep was a week or two.
Eric Stormbringer-  Describe your impression of PvP before you decided to try and after your first match.
Vanessa Mythdust-  I was very intimidated by PvP before I started. I fully expected to run into trolls and bullies during my matches and thought that might take the fun out of it. I also lacked confidence and fully expected to get blown out of the water. I knew how serious some people took PvP. I understand that getting good at PvP takes practice and experience, but there was already this mentality of “I’m probably going to lose a lot of rank before I gain any.” I don’t remember exactly how my first match went, but I don’t think my feelings immediately changed after it. Whether it went well or not, I understood it was just one match. I wasn’t going to sway that easily only after one experience.
Eric Stormbringer- Describe your thoughts after your first few matches. Anything jumped out at you about what PvP would take?
Vanessa Mythdust-  After my first few matches, I did start to feel a little more comfortable. I was still losing, but I thought I was improving from match to match. I immediately started to realize how fast I needed to make deck decisions. As someone who has a tendency to hold onto my cards until later (from PvE), I ran into some trouble with that. To succeed in PvP, I would need to have a good grasp on when I needed certain cards and how to get them. I think you referred to that as tempo. Although I was fine in the gear and pet department, it became clear that it would be hard for someone to compete without the “best of the best.” A lot of my opponents had fantastic builds.
Eric Stormbringer- How difficult were your PvP marches compared to PvE battles?
Vanessa Mythdust-  Much more difficult! PvE matches are systematic. There’s a plan, and as long as you stick to it, you shouldn’t have a problem. You can also have smaller decks in PvE so it’s pretty easy to get what you want when you want it. However, my PvP deck was filled to the brim and although I had a basic plan, it frequently went out the window as soon as things weren’t going in my favor. As a result, I often went into “panic mode.” There’s just a lot more pressure in PvP matches and I would need to gain more experience in order to make better battle decisions there.
Eric Stormbringer- Was having a mentor a negative or positive influence on your PvP outcome?
Vanessa Mythdust- Definitely positive! Having an experienced duelist teach me tips and tricks was truly invaluable. There are just some things that a written guide can’t offer — and one of them is seeing a successful duelist do their thing right in front of me. In fact, sometimes watching you duel gave me a better idea of what I needed to do. Your coaching during my matches acted as a “step by step” and I appreciated that it was tailored specifically to me.
Eric Stormbringer- On a scale of 1-10 (1 being the easiest and 10 the most difficult) how hard do you think it is for a newcomer to be successful at PvP?
Vanessa Mythdust- I’d say a 9. Not impossible, but a newcomer would certainly need to learn and adapt quickly in order to succeed.
Eric Stormbringer- What are some recommendations you have for new players intending to join PvP?
Vanessa Mythdust- Research and reach out. Gain as much knowledge as you can before entering the arena. Watch videos and see what works for other people. Don’t be afraid to ask experienced duelists for advice or maybe seek a mentor of your own. Nobody knows the arena like they do, so take what they have to say to heart.
Eric Stormbringer- What would be some suggestions for KI to make the newbie PvP experience a better one?
Vanessa Mythdust-  Max level PvP (which is what I did) is very reliant on shadow pips. I know that’s a big thing they’re pushing lately, but that ultimately causes PvP matches to require luck to win. I’d like to see some sort of balance there. Something that shifts more towards skill. However, that’s more of a general PvP thing. To be honest, I feel like there isn’t much more KI can do to help newbies feel welcome. There’s already a way to turn off battle chat, so at least toxicity can be ignored. The PvP community on the other hand, can play a much bigger role. It’d be nice if duelists took more time to help new players and give encouragement. It’d make them feel less alone and more likely to stick with it.

What Are Your Thoughts on the Declining Newbie Population in the Arena? Let us Know in the Comments Below!

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