I have a fear of failure. That’s probably why I’ve found myself PvP-ing in MMOs a lot more these days than PvE-ing.
That may not seem to make sense, since PvP carries a higher probability of failure — not to mention that when you do fail, there’s that guy standing over your corpse, teabagging you. I think my issue is more with the consequences of failure, both as a group and individually. In other words, I don’t mind failing as much as long it’s accepted that failure is a possibility and that we fail more than I fail.
Take your average PvE experience, like a dungeon run. What is your probability of success? After running it a few times to get it figured out, it’s probably pretty high, at least 90-95%. And if you fail? That’s a complete failure. The tank couldn’t hold aggro, the DPS wasn’t fast enough, someone missed that crucial activation, and if this is a PUG, I’m ditching you noobs.
(It’s worse when you’re in a group with guildmates who fail, because you can’t ditch them as easily. Not that I’ve ever made up an excuse to do so…)
Now compare that to a typical PvP experience, where your chance of success is going to be around 50%, assuming random or mostly random teams. Suddenly the bar for success is much lower, and it doesn’t sting as bad when you lose. And when you do lose, it’s harder to pin down the weak link. Sure, you might see stats in an end-of-round recap and compare your numbers to the next guy, but as long as I can stay around the top half, or at least know I was doing something useful, like carrying a flag or firing off buffs/debuffs, I feel good about myself. And you usually still get decent rewards when you lose, as opposed to a PvE encounter, where anything short of beating the final boss gets you comparatively little.
Maybe that’s a little bit of a cop-out, and maybe I shouldn’t be satisfied with mediocrity, but I’m also not a professional gamer. This is still a hobby — most of the time, at least — and I want to have fun without feeling undue pressure to perform.
Wait, that last sentence sounded way too much like my philosophy on dating…
There’s also the larger group size typically found in PvP matches. When it’s 10v10 or 20v20 or even open-world, your ability to screw up your team is minimized. I don’t feel like I’m holding back my team as much if I suck, and there’s a larger chance that the overall skill levels of the two teams will even out in the long run. I think that’s why I could never get into APB, with its 4v4 matches, and why I’m much happier playing 15v15 in World of Tanks or 16v16 in Tribes Ascend. Sometimes bigger is better.
Also, you can “jump into” a PvP match typically more easily than you can in a PvE encounter, even in a game with a group finder, because you’re not as concerned about finding the exact group makeup of tank/healer/DPS/etc. It’s just generally more accessible than PvE, and you don’t spend 20 minutes before hand describing the fight and then getting enraged at someone who forgot that one detail you mentioned at the 14.5-minute mark.
When I first started playing MMOs, I had exactly zero interest in PvP. Now I find myself doing it even more than PvE, especially at endgame, just because of the easier accessibility and less opportunity for ragequitting, at least from your own teammates. The other guy being better than me I can generally live with, but struggling to carry other people — or knowing that you’re the guy being carried — brings with it expectations I can generally do without.