PvP in FFXIV suffers from so many issues it’s not even funny.
The one main problem of PvP in this game. People aren’t playing, queue times get larger and large queue times turn off people – that’s a feedback loop. But why are they so large in the first place? For a couple reasons.
2.) Barrier of entry
A short list of things you need to do to be competitive will probably get the point across best:
1. PvP Rank 50 to be on par with PvP abilities
2. iLvL 190+ in every slot, at least somewhat min/maxed in regards to secondaries (Accuracy is a no-no)
3. Cross Class abilities
Before you get this, you’ll be at a tangible, numerical disadvantage. I’m already implying that you need to be 60, because lvl 50 queues scarcely pop. This is in no small part caused by the next point.
Frankly, rewards are there to get people who do not enjoy PvPing to PvP anyway to lower queue times, because people who enjoy PvP will PvP anyway. That’s the exact same purpose rewards serve in all other content. You need an incentive, because fun isn’t cutting it. And PvP rewards fail gloriously in that, because the reward to effort ratio is way too small. Lo and behold, the queue times suck.
The ranked rewards in particular are a complete joke. Since they are dependent on current rating, it means that once you qualify for them, you do not want to play anymore, because playing can make you lose them, which every season causes players to “sit it out”. People who come late, aren’t skilled enough or just cannot afford to play that much have no reason to play ranked at all except for the lulz. It’s complete and utter reward mismanagement.
When competition runs high, so do tempers and toxicity is bred. All PvP games suffer from this to some degree due to the high rate of losing and ranked modes always suffer more than casual modes, because there is more on the line. The introduction of ranked was completely counterproductive on this front – toxicity has increased massively from before it was a thing. Some streams can be downright grueling to watch and unfortunately not all of that stays in the room of the streamer. And that again only makes people less inclined to play – it’s one of the most commonly named issues in regards to PvP.
PvP doesn’t get introduced until fairly late into the game. I would not be surprised if many people didn’t know PvP was a thing in the first place because they missed the sidequest. It doesn’t add a lot to the lack of players, but at the numbers we’re talking about, every bit counts.
6.) Bad resource usage
In League of Legends, the most renown E-sport title and a primary PvP game, only 10% of the monthly active players are ranked. Out of those, 90% are gold rated or below. PvP as such caters to a minority – ranked caters to a minority of the PvP minority and the top 100 rewards cater to the minority of skilled players that are interested in ranked. Catering to that is a highly inefficient resource usage and considering how few resources PvP has in the first place from being a minority niché, it’s just plain an utter waste.
Honestly? They need to go into the polar opposite direction if PvP is ever supposed to become more than a shadow at the edge of obscurity. But then again, who wants that?