|deisum Goblin Squad Member|
Lots of bits have been spilled arguing about 'PVP' in PFO. Unfortunately, many folks are talking past each other because term is ill-defined, and actually has multiple meanings.
Most often, when the term PVP is bandied about, it's referring to PVP combat. However, when those who would rather avoid PVP combat suggest restrictions on it, those who desire PVP combat falsely argue that 'crafting/trade is also PVP', and that games without PVP aren't real sandboxes or are boring.
When this happens, inter-player conflict is being conflated with player vs player combat. While those two ideas are certainly related, they form a venn diagram of actual activities. Not all PVP combat is conflict driven and player conflict certainly exists outside of the realm of combat.
Economic markets are prime examples of player conflict. However, the risks and rewards involved are very different than those of combat. Insisting they're somehow both 'PVP' trivializes the inherent complexities in the two different systems, and is usually used to advocate for unrestricted PVP combat.
I'm fairly certain most folks here (and certainly the Devs) agree that without player-driven conflict, any sandbox created is going to become stagnant and boring fairly quickly. Furthermore, that conflict needs to involve combat in some way, especially since combat is ultimately what the game engine is designed around.
However, just because combat is a possible outcome of conflict, doesn't mean it necessarily should be the outcome of every conflict.
As a quick aside, the adjective 'unsanctioned' when used to describe PVP combat is misleading. There is no overarching authority who sanctions some combat and not others. That authority falls solely to those involved in the combat. In the rest of the world, we call that authority 'consent'. Thus, if you get attacked when you're out foraging, you're experiencing 'nonconsensual PVP', not 'unsanctioned PVP'.
So, while conflict is certainly integral to PFO's success, and combat is integral to PFO's gameplay, conflict and combat can take very, very different forms. Asserting it's all the same is misleading, at best.
Personally, I'm in favor of a system that allows nonconsensual PVP combat, but only with substantive consequences. Consequence-free nonconsensual PVP combat is a system that appeals to a very select group, and has been repeatedly shown to be a commercial failure.