We’ve all heard the terms of “wolves” and “sheep” before. Its the core of PvP. No one wants to be the sheep, but sometimes you are. In PvP games, you can learn from defeat and become a better player, but you cannot learn from being crushed. In the FPS world, if you hop on a TF2 server and spend most of the game dead, you are less likely to return unless the game chat was just so awesome. However, you can go to another server very easily, for no charge and no need to grind back up any levels. For an MMO example, if you are in a battleground in WoW and your level 80 shadow priest meets a level 80 frost wizard on the battle field and you go toe to toe and lose, you can learn from that. Pick different spells if it happens again, approach them from another tack. But if you are out in the world on a PvP server and a level 80 warrior swings by and ganks your level 12 warrior, you aren’t going to learn anything from that beyond the fact that some people are power tripping assholes. So, to keep sheep around, you need something for them to do, something for them to succeed at so that their faceplants in PvP don’t sting so badly. And the wolves need the sheep, because if the “true sheep” start quitting, the “weaker wolves” are the “new sheep”.
Lots of PvP advocates love to trot out EVE Online as their example of how PvP totally owns and can be successful. They conveniently forget that as a pure PvP game, EVE failed, and that over the years of its existence and continued development much of that has been spent making tutorials and NPC missions and trade skills. The PvP of EVE has succeeded in the long term because the people at CCP worked on finding ways for the sheep to stick around. Yeah, you might have attacked and destroyed my hauler and taken my load of goods. You might have just set me back several days. But I made twenty-seven successful heart-pounding runs through zero space before you got me. And my rep as a guy who gets goods where they need to be is growing. You are playing a PvP game, but to me you are just a new form of AI that I need to avoid in my PvE smuggler game.
The road to success is littered with the carcasses of failed PvP MMOs, and most of them end up failing for the same reason: they built a game for wolves and forgot to create a place for the sheep.