Players will approach the PvP game within an MMORPG as a game of strategy. All the tools are there for it to be a strategic affair: no real aiming is required, twitch skills play little role, the players has hundreds of potential actions he can take, and coordinating actions with other players is important to success. PvP is naturally approached as a strategy game, but this game is in the context of the MMORPG that hosts it. All the baggage of the MMO carries over—time-spent indicates power in an MMO, so the strategic nature of PvP is compromised by a context that slants the playing field strongly in the favor of the more prepared player, where preparation is a factor primarily of time, not skill. What you’d naturally play as a skill-based mode is actually constructed on the shifting foundations of a timesink. This indicates that PvP may be inherently broken in MMORPGs unless players do not play it like a game of strategy, but instead treat it was a comparison of time spent and resources brought to bear.
MMORPGs are games of time, not skill. An MMO can never be good enough as a game to sustain the kind of beating players will give a system that grants them great responsibility and power. The game will be exploited and those exploits will be shared among the playerbase until the game becomes a collection of exploits. The more players involved, the shorter the space in time is between a content or balance patch’s introduction and its dismantling and exploitation. This effect is multiplied by the potential power that can be gained by exploiting. Complex systems make it harder for players and devs to figure out what is actually an exploit instead of just being a clever strategy.
Players are a PvP MMORPGs’ biggest opponents. The devs have to fight the players for every single minute of fair gameplay. The players expect to succeed in a world that is built to see them fail until they’ve spent as much time as the guy they’re fighting against, but the devs need these punished players to stay playing for long enough for their paychecks to be signed. It’s no wonder open-world PvP MMORPGs have trouble sustaining subscriber numbers over 50k—even EVE, the sweetheart of the PvP community, sees not much more than 10% of its 330k players participating in nullsec activities.