World of Warcraft is set to enter Arena Season 3 after today's downtime. With the new season comes new, rank-restricted arena gear and a personal ranking system, both of which are meant to fight rampant arena "exploitation" from the first two seasons. Sadly, the new season also brings new cheats.
Win trading, the process by which top teams farm another high ranking team, seems to be the new flavor and pretty much cements the high ranking of the team involved. It is easily disguised as normal play and only in the worst cases is it probable that the teams will get caught.
Fortunately, Blizzard seems to be on the case. However, this gives me no faith in the arena system as a viable end-game activity. Before win trading, it was top teams selling spots for gold. The point is, if it isn't one thing, it'll be another and that is enough evidence to me that Blizzard has failed on yet another PvP system. Like the Honor System, it will only be a matter of time before the current arena system is scrapped and replaced.
In my eyes, there are a couple things that would have contained these arena problems to simply arenas and not the entire game. First off, arena gear should of been restricted to use only inside arenas or become severely less powerful outside of arenas. If certain trinkets and out-of-arena gear were going to be restricted inside arenas, it only makes sense that arena gear could have been restricted outside of the arena.
It is a bad sign when the arena rewards are referred to as "welfare epics". Sadly, the epic arena gear turned out to be superior to a lot of raid level gear and quickly became the easiest way to gear up for end game raiding content.
I am not averse to easy to attain epic gear. However, I am against any system that becomes the "path of least resistance" for the opposite aspect of the game. PvP arenas became the preferred method for PvE players, and in my book, that is bad design. I know there is a lot that can be argued over raid loot affecting PvP, but I don't want to get into that aspect. I stand firmly on the concept of separate PvP and PvE reward systems.
Secondly, the arenas should have been about prestige, renown, and good ole' bragging rights. This entails rewards such as special titles, unique mounts, displayable trophies, etc. Arenas should have never gotten involved with rewarding epic gear, because it immediately dashes the illusion of fair play. When teams enter an arena, it should be the group build, player skill, and strategy that determines the winner, not fucking gear (most likely earned through questionable means).
Gear level, in arenas, should always be equal and that would have been easily accomplished through arena-restricted gear. Unfortunately, the system can not be changed and it would be unthinkable for Blizzard to remove all the gear already attained by players. The only hope is a change with the Wrath of the Lich King expansion.
In the end, this s just another set of reasons why there is no rush for me to get to 70. Arena's are not competitive, will never be, and are no longer my goal. Battlegrounds, which have always been objective-based, provide a better challenge and allow every class and level of player to participate in a meaningful way.
Now, if Blizzard would just put the same effort into Warsong Gulch, Arathi Basin, and Eye of the Storm, that they put into Alterac Valley, the battlegrounds would be golden!