Bad players will always blame something else, and will eventually just chalk it up to lag. Gear, team composition, faction (yeah, we are mirrored, but that doesn't stop the complaining), resolve/stuns. . .
the list goes on, but what it all boils down to is
How do you get people to sign into a (hypothetical) game consistently?
With no attachment to the gear itself, or no incentive to stay playing this (hypothetical) game, why would anyone give just one company their money/time? Yeah, it works in the consumer's interests to have more options, but on the fiscal side of things, free options hurt some more than others. I won't go too far into that debate, as that could go on forever, but it is something that is worth bringing up.
So, with that being said, what would motivate PvPers to give BW/EA MONEY in the absence of gear?
I am not a non-MMO expert, so I am at a loss for suggestions.
Cosmetic gear to separate themselves from the pack. If you made gear that was hard and grindy to obtain that looked amazing and different from everything else out there I'm sure PvPers would sub for it. A rank up system could help too. Halo 2 thrived for years and didn't have any form of gear progression or stat gain.