Bringing Newbies Back to PvP
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.
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)
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
Kingsisle’s matchmaking system has always had flaws and this age is no exception. Thanks to a lower player population 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?
What Are Your Thoughts on the Declining Newbie Population in the Arena? Let us Know in the Comments Below!