Previously I have written about how the interaction of PvP and PvE can be a success if done correctly. But, the question remains; what does the MMO audience REALLY want in their MMO's. Can PvP and PvE really mix? And, what is the current crop of MMO's teaching us about what the MMO audience wants to see.
This became even more of a subject to broach thanks to the recent changes in Rift for Beta 6. You can read about these changes here in depth (SOURCE). What it boils down to is making quest hubs more powerful against opposition invasions from the other factions. As well, objective based PvP is being moved into their own areas, so those who do not wish to engage in PvP, may avoid it almost completely (on PvE servers).
So, what does this tell us?
If we look at previous year offerings when it comes to PvP based games, the consensus seems clear. If your game does not have a well laid out PvE component and instead focuses on PvP, you will alienate a large audience (WAR, AoC Launch). And to top it off, if you force PvE audiences to PvP, prepare to fall down (Aion, which has been rectified as of late).
Basically, my feelings are that PvE has the larger audience, and PvP is too niche.
Rift at least looks to offer an alternate path though for a PvE/PvP based style of gameplay.
Thanks to the way that you can set yourself up to be auto-flagged for PvP on PvE servers, it allows a player to be near danger, but to avoid it if they wish. But, on the PvP servers, the always on flag allows the PvP player to engage whenever they wish...mostly.
Here is where the contention arises for the PvP servers. Seems they are disgruntled over the changes, and believe that PvE is already ruining their PvP experience. Why should they not be allowed to attack the quest hubs of alternate factions, and cause havoc against those players?
So, who exactly is right here? And, can Trion see to it that PvP can have separate server rules from PvE?
My hope is that for 2011 we will see what the MMO audience really wants. Rift's success as a PvE game with PvP may just answer that. Especially when we can see which servers hold the largest populations...and of course, how those numbers on X-Fire and Raptr look.