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Does Horde PWN Alliance in PvP? A Baker's Dozen of Possible Reasons

One issue that is often discussed and debated on the WoW forums is why Horde seems to outperform Alliance in BGs. In a recent open-ended survey, I asked players whether they observed this pattern on their servers, and why they thought this might be the case. While I was expecting players to offer a variety of reasons for this pattern, I did not expect the large number of explanations offered. What was interesting about these explanations was that they highlighted the different game layers (factors from inside and outside that game) that come into play in observed behavioral patterns in MMOs.

Consistent with the forum posts, many players felt that Horde outperformed Alliance in BGs on the server they play on. From the open-ended responses of 140 players, 16% either skipped the question or did not give a clear answer. Of the remaining responses, 66% of players felt that Horde outperformed Alliance on their server, 31% felt that it was about equal or the other way around. And about 3% indicated that it depended on the BG (i.e., Horde consistently won WSG and AB, but Alliance consistently won AV).

Of course, one could argue that this is a matter of perception rather than fact. And some respondents did in fact raise this concern.

I don't think this is true, personally. I suspect it's an opinion that's gained momentum as a perceived fact, regardless of any truth behind it. [WoW, M, 39]

I really don't think this is true although people think it's true or at the very least isn't true to the extent that people think it is. [WoW, M, 32]

On the other hand, the fact that so many players believe it to be true suggests that there's something interesting going on, and that in either case, this is an issue that's worth exploring.

Overall, explanations for this perceived behavior typically fell into one of four categories: 1) entry factors, 2) population imbalance factors, 3) game mechanic factors, and 4) psychological factors. What's useful about these categories is that they provide a framework with which to think about in-game patterns in general - that for any given pattern, it is worth considering explanations in these four categories. And I think what's most interesting about the explanations offered isn't about the issue of BG performance, but that these explanations highlight the many different layers which social behaviors in MMOs can be produced and explored (for both game designers and game researchers).

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Posted on December 2, 2006 | Comments (60) | TrackBack (0)

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