PvP, it is as old as the MMO genre. It is the very instance where one person can claim ultimate domination over another. It is the nature of competition, but at what cost?
In level based games, PvP is almost wholly lacking. It is seemingly non-existant until at last, the person is the max level. This removes the draw to online gaming that most PvP players will have, because they will be stuck in a PvE world for a month to a year, or longer. The crux of level based gameplay on PvP is, people will generally not engage in PvP unless they are at their peak. Why should a level 5 fight a level 50? They will surely lose. This leads to another problem, with both characters at level 50, what is there to proove? Simply that Player A has better gear than Player B? Unless this is taken into account in the development process of the game, it will all come down to who has the best gun, or whos armor lets in the least amount of damage, not who is the most skilled.
Skill Based PvP vs Item Based PvP:
Take for Example, Star Wars Galaxies (Pre-CU/R/B)
It was a non-level based game, and PvP took place over many planets concurrently. The main problem was, if your gear wasnt as good as your opponents, you would almost definatly lose. With race restrictions (Armor for Wookiees, Ithorians, etc), not everyone will be on an even battlefield. This pushes people into a FotM (Flavor of the Month) mentality from the very start of the game.
In Skill Based PvP (Such as Ultima Online, OSI days), the outcome in a PvP battle didnt matter so much on what sword you were wearing. A good mage could take out anyone regardless of their equipment, and likewise a good archer could do the same, etc. The basis of such is equality at the race, class, and skill level.
Next Time: A Look at Economic Influences on Item Based PvP