PvE vs PvP - What’s the Difference?

Last updated: 10/25/2023
5 minutes read

Gaming is full of acronyms, confusing newcomers and even leading to miscommunications among newcomers. This is especially the case for game titles, where something like TF2 might refer to Team Fortress 2, Titanfall 2, or Thunder Force 2. Thankfully, the terms PvE and PvP are some of the better defined and explored, but they still require a little explanation if you’re fresh to the world of gaming.

To help you along, we’ll cover exactly what these terms mean, and what makes the PvP vs PvE debate such a hot topic. Understanding both sides of the coin will help you better define the games you like, and even guide you to finding titles better suited to your taste in the future. With that in mind, let’s jump into the actual conversation.

What Is Better - PvP or PvE?

The question of PvP vs PvE is an entirely personal one, where there is no one best overall answer. PvE vs PvP is all about what each player prefers, so the answer is ultimately up to you.

What Is PvE, and What Does It Stand For?

The term PvE refers to Player versus Environment. This is where the player in a video game competes against the game world and the computer, not other players. In the PvE vs PvP split, PvE often includes more casual games, but this isn't always the case.

PvE titles tend to be single-player experiences, and because of this, they can be more strictly guided than their counterparts in the PvP vs PvE world. Player versus environment games ignores the randomness and unpredictable behavior that human opponents thrive on.

PvE Meaning

Exactly what the term environment means will change depending on the game. It might make us think of the untamed wilderness, but in the PvE vs PvP split, the term is used much more broadly. The environment in PvE can mean an enemy monster, it can be a pit of lava, or it can be a CPU-controlled card game player.

The name PvE is essentially just a catch-all which means a video game where the challenge comes from the game world without opponent player intervention. Games with combat apply this term most of all, but it can be more loosely applied to other forms of computer challenge too. 

What Is PvP, and What Does It Mean?

The other side of the PvP vs PvE equation stands for Player versus Player. This is when the main opponents you’ll be facing are other humans. These humans might be right next to you in the case of titles like fighting games, or they could be on the opposite side of the world in turn-based strategy PvP games. 

PvP Meaning

Many of the most popular games right now like Counter-Strike and Dota 2 embrace PvP at their core. This is because of the types of games in the PvE vs PvP world, PvP involves the thrill and reward of directly fighting and overcoming another human player. Humans can learn and react like computers can't, and some players love what a victory in this type of competition represents. 

Like in PvE, PvP titles aren't limited by genre. PvP can refer to fighting games, shooters, RPGs, racing games, card games, or any other interactive experience that has you directly facing a human. PvP combat doesn't have to be fair, as one side might have a massive gameplay or skill advantage over another.

PvE vs PvP

PvE vs PVP

For a direct comparison of PvP vs PvE, consider the following: 

  • PvE is when your opponent is the computer and its world
  • PvP is when your opponent is another player 

There’s a lot of debate in the gaming community as to which of PvP vs PvE is better, and this applies to gamers of all ages and platforms. From those who only play Mac games to people who solely enjoy console shooters, it’s common to see arguments about which is better, which is more fun, and which makes you a “real gamer”. 

Which side of the PvE and PvP spectrum you prefer will depend on how much you like to relax while playing, the types of challenges you enjoy overcoming, and which genres best represent your interests. Like the PC/Mac/Xbox/PlayStation/Nintendo debates, there aren’t any wrong answers, as long as you understand that your choice only really applies to you.

TL;DR - What is the difference between PvE and PvP?

PvE is when the player is fighting the environment and the challenges within it. PvP is when the player directly fights other players. 


PvE vs PvP


The PvE and PvP Hybrid

One final point to remember is that while we can define games within the PvP vs PvE world as mostly belonging to one side, many titles also feature considerable overlap.

MMORPGs are perhaps the best example of this, where players in their digital worlds can focus on which of the PvP vs PvE elements they enjoy most. Some players might never touch the PvP in an MMORPG, while others might compete so fiercely that their entire character is built around PvP combat. 

Some games even fuse the concepts into single game modes. Dota 2, for example, has players not just competing against each other, but also against the computer-controlled towers, team creeps, and special stronger neutral units. In this case, the game is typically regarded as PvP since that’s where the focus lies, but remembering the PvE aspects can also be key to claiming victory.

What is PvP vs PvE vs PVC?

PvP (player versus player) is when players compete against other players. PvE (player versus environment) and PvC (player versus computer) refer to the same idea of fighting the computer AI and world instead of other players.