Play 2 Crush: History of Multiplayer PvP in MMO PC Games - Part 12 - World Of Warcraft 'The Burning Crusade' Expansion Pack
When you have more than 10 million subscribers, you can afford to make mistakes that you can learn from. Blizzard did just that with the release of The Burning Crusade expansion pack, which introduced the Arena system.
WoW - Arena
Ripping out the guts and starting over.
Blizzard picked up some interesting lessons from the original honor system, and took to revamping it to make it more accessible to other players. The original system encouraged players to run on a treadmill that was constantly increasing in speed, and once many players reached the upper heights of it, they would tend to collapse from exhaustion - sometimes literally. The system was structured in such a fashion that driven players would completely restructure their lives around achieving the top rank in the PvP system. This made the higher rewards rather inaccessible to players who didn't have as much time, making it seem like a waste of time for them to really get involved in the PvP system.
In response, Blizzard revamped the system to just give out honor points with every kill, along with battleground victories and losses that would stay with the character like currency. Players could then spend the points on pieces of gear that were largely designed for PvP. This made it possible for even casual players to deck themselves out in PvP gear, as they could spread their achievements out over a longer period of time rather than having to compete with sickening regularity to stay on top of the ladder.
The release of The Burning Crusade expansion introduced the Arena System. The arena system involves matches between 2, 3 or 5 players in which the only objective is to kill the other team. Each team gets a rating that translates into a number of non-decaying points that are awarded and can be spent on high quality armor sets and weapons that are designed for PvP combat. It was a largely successful attempt to make sure that PvP players only really need to PvP to get the gear that they need; since the expansion was released, it has helped to encourage PvP as an entirely separate play style from PvE.
The new system has proved more successful than the last one, and the introduction of cross-server battlegrounds and arena matches has helped to make it so that players only really have to wait a few minutes in between matches rather than the hours that they had to in previous years. The regular introduction and updating of battlegrounds and arena levels has helped to keep things fresh for players. Unfortunately, the prevalance of high end PvP gear has made it perhaps more difficult than ever for completely new players to break into the battleground system than ever.