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Oh Jesus H. GAWD not this shit again!!!!
Since I don't feel like making a brand new wall of text, here's a snippet from a blog I posted two years ago on this anology. The article was meant as a rebuttal to the FFA PvP crowd, but i think the main points also apply to this discussion as well. Enjoy:
Risk = Reward -
This one needs the qualifier "for some people" added to it. For the rest of us, reward comes from overcoming a particularly challenging obstacle. When I finish a really hard Sudoku puzzle, for instance, I don't gain anything. Likewise, I didn't risk anything when I picked up the puzzle and the pen. The reward is purely the sense of accomplishment and the ability to look back and say "I did that!"
Every time I see the "Risk =Reward" cliche come up in a FFA PvP thread I always wonder why someone that feels that way isn't base jumping or sky diving instead of playing video games. I still hold on to the hope that one day, all of these risk = reward people will put their money where their mouth is and go jump off a high bridge...
... with a bungie line that's ten feet too long...
The easiest way that I can take the wind out of this argument is to propose an FFA PvP MMO where you purchase all in-game currency with real money. Even if we limit the amount of currency you can buy to $15 worth a month, the risk = reward crowd will scream "UNFAIR" in a voice not unlike a man that just lost his arm in an industrial accident. This is because they're all about reward. Risk? ...meh, not so much...
It's like Poker without money! -
This is a variation of the "Risk = Reward" line. What sets this apart is the not-so-subtle implication that playing an non-FFA PvP MMO is playing the game wrong. Never mind the fact that people play Poker without money, or inconsequentially small amounts of money, and never get bored with it. If anything, the addition of money to poker makes people more conservative and causes the action at the table to drop dramatically. What some players gain in tension, others loose in excitement.
Since PvE players are being accused of ruining MMORPGs, lets run with this analogy a little ways.
In Poker: regular players, myself included once upon a time, set aside money that is to be used for poker only. This is considered money that is already spent. Normally you have a poker bank limit, mine was $500, so that any money over that can be taken out, but once the bank runs dry you're done for awhile. In short, you never risk anything because the money you are using has already been earmarked as spent. You may gain something, but the risk is completely minimal.
In FFA PvP: Regular players keep extra money and sets of gear at the bank so that they don't have to do corpse runs to get their stuff back. Veterans will also immediately replace gear that they took out of the bank so the risk is minimal. Regular players will also use the fastest means of transport available and make bank deposits at the nearby town frequently so as to minimize risk. Lastly, regular players will work in groups with complimentary character builds to increase their ability to survive and / or pwn weaker players / groups that they come across therefore minimizing risk and maximizing reward.
Once again we see that the reward side of the equation is the real emphasis here. Since there is no mystery about who will win any given encounter, everything breaks down to logistical planning and one character's ability to outrun or corner a lesser character. Veteran players will always have more money, better stats and in-game connections. FFA PvP simply rewards experienced players with the ability to keep everyone below them down... permanently.