Like many gamers, Sanya Weathers is passing on Darkfall because she prefers to have a choice on whether to participate in PVP. Darkfall's relatively unique niche in the current market - FFA PVP at all times, with full looting of killed players - aside, I find the question of opt-in PVP interesting, because I'm currently doing a fair amount of it myself.
Voluntarily risking Greenwiz's neck in Wintergrasp without a raid group at my back, for the right incentive
Luring players to conflict with carrots, rather than sticks
We've recently seen a major rise in games offering non-instanced PVP that centers around certain locations where the normal rules of engagement do not apply.
- LOTRO offered its version back in 2007, with the Ettenmoors, a zone where player characters can be attacked freely by enemies controlling various monsters (Turbine felt that there was no lore justification for the Free Peoples fighting each other).
- WoW has made various attempts at world PVP in the past, but I would argue that Wintergrasp is the first version that gets the job done properly. Wintergrasp offers the right mix of incentives to participate and automatic PVP-flagging of participants. Though I strongly prefer WoW's non-PVP ruleset (I would call the distinction "ganking optional" versus "ganking enabled" - Warhammer offers the same rules under the names "core" and "open"), allowing players to hang out, without being flagged, near the fighting until the odds favored them was neither sporting nor good design.
- Warhammer has its RVR lakes and keep sieges, and now has the incentives needed to go along with them.
The systems share in common a central concept of a high risk, high reward alternative to the non-PVP content. Wintergrasp and the Ettenmoors both offer valuable crafting resources and a path to gear and other loot, while Warhammer's oRVR offers these rewards PLUS the game's separate RVR experience and access to the higher end siege game.
Of course, some of these incentives can be obtained by sneaky players during off-hours, when the risk of actually encountering the enemy is minimal. There's still a sense of accomplishment - e.g. "I pulled that off without being killed" - but it's not exactly PVP if you don't encounter other players. So imagine my surprise when I've found myself going into Wintergrasp actually LOOKING for other players to fight.
Seeking out conflict for the right price
Wintergrasp offers a daily quest with decent rewards for killing 20 enemy players. This might sound like an easy enough task, but simply receiving an "honorable kill" of a target does NOT necessarily grant credit for the quest. (My guess is that enemy players are considered "tapped" by a player or raid group for the purpose of the quest, as it seems like I have a lot more trouble completing this one when there are multiple raid groups up and running, especially when my group is smaller.) There have been quite a few days when I've ended up short by as few as a single kill, or perhaps as many as five.
A month ago, I would have given up and waited for the next battle (or the next day if needed). Nowadays, I'm not afraid to try and finish the job without a raid group at my back. Part of that may be due to gear - my PVP set now exceeds 800 resilience and 18K HP thanks to all the Wintergrasp and Archavon rewards, and there are certainly times when it feels like I have an enemy overmatched by virtue of all my shiny PVP loot. Still, I'd argue that there is something more at work here.
For every time I get the drop on a player engaged in combat with a mob and gank them - something I feel no guilt over since most will not hesitate to do the same to me while I work on quests, and because all have opted into PVP by entering Wintergrasp - there are just as many times when I find an even match, or even end up outnumbered and overwhelmed. One day, I was riding around looking for a fight when I saw an enemy who seemed determined to ride away from me at all costs. I pursued him for a bit, only to round the corner and find that he'd led me into an ambush by a group of his friends. I regret only that I did not have time to salute his ingenuity before my swift demise. At other times, the enemy will have reinforcements, and I will struggle to see if I can take one of them down with me.
In the end, I'm pretty sure that I still lose more fair fights than I win. From the incentive/time perspective that I usually apply to most of my MMORPG gaming, this would seem like a terrible deal - I sometimes spend significant time hunting for a foe who ultimately defeats me, earning no rewards whatsoever in the process. I'm okay with that trade, though, because it was my choice. The fair fight that I win, especially if it's against a hated Warlock (uncommon but oh so sweet), combined with the in-game incentives, is enough to make it worth my while.
I'm not saying that there is no role for the stick that is mandatory, ganking-enabled PVP. However, that ruleset has never appealed to me, precisely because it cuts off the choice on my end. The carrot of incentives to get me to opt-in to PVP of my own free will, on the other hand, has me actually attempting and even ENJOYING non-instanced PVP for the first time that I can remember. Sometimes a carrot really is that much more effective than a stick.