Just... one... more... BG...
World of Warcraft (WoW) was released in 2004 by Blizzard Entertainment. You might have heard of it - it makes more money than any other video game in the world. PvP was a major selling point of the game, although when it was released, the developers supported it with little more than promises of future systems. For most developers, this is a major mistake - if you draw players in with promises, it's often very hard to keep up to your end of the bargain, and you end up inevitably disappointing and embittering them.
The proposed honor system would allow players to work their way up in the ranks as they killed players of the opposing faction (players in WoW are split up into either the Alliance or the Horde, and cannot communicate or group with one another). Instanced battlegrounds were proposed, but they would not be implemented for months. The game was released with many PvP servers, and the casual competition there was somewhat rough. As players didn't lose experience or items upon death in PvP, it took on the guise of more of an annoyance than a terrible defeat as in other games in which random PKing lead to massive subscriber loss. The fact that players who didn't want to deal with that could just join a PvE server helped to cut down on the number of complaints about it.
The initial honor system was something of a nightmare. It required players to continually compete with one another on a constantly shifting ladder, with ranks updated every week. The players that wanted to make it to the top ranks and get the powerful weapons that went with it would have to play in excess of full time hours, seven days a week, hardly losing a single game, in order to get to the top. Players often had to wait in excess of an hour to get into a battleground, but still people participated in it by the millions.
Still, this early system could be described as a success, even though it had addictive qualities that clearly encouraged very unhealthy player behavior. The battlegrounds themselves were structured battles with clear objectives that had balanced teams. While there was still disparity between equipment and skill level - and pre-made groups of established guilds could often easily mop up their less coordinated competitors - compared to previous games, the quality of competition was improved. The honor system itself encouraged players who were interested in PvP rewards to spend more time in the battlegrounds rather than killing random players who were going about their business in the world, reducing its frequency.