Thursday, September 19, 2013

No Surprises

Raiding is progression. Loots are bonus.

Everyone gets shafted by the RNG God sometimes. It's a Fact of Warcraft Life.

Not getting what you want in a game is always a pain. Getting something however will release endorphins into your brain and make you feel all warm and fuzzy, and encourage you to do better and play more. People even write books about it. It is pretty much accepted that happy people don't normally feel the need to complain, but they will increasingly take to Social Media to celebrate their success with others. No, they're not deliberately doing it to make you feel bad you didn't (unless you can confirm the person concerned is Your Personal Nemesis, more on that at the weekend) and you should take the time to congratulate them on something that makes their gaming experience happier.

You should also bear in mind that individual perception is a curious beast, but that's a discussion for another day.

When you don't win, should accepting that's enough and moving on be the norm? Should the fact you got to have a chance to (especially in 10/25) be enough of an incentive to make you keep playing? Or is it time for Blizzard to finally accept that actually, guaranteeing certain rewards may be what's really needed to keep the playerbase engaged?

It's the Great Big Chest of Everything, with Everything inside...

Giving everyone a Guaranteed Free 535 item when they arrive on the Timeless Isle was a great idea by Blizzard. Not telling everyone how to get it from the word go however may not have been such a smart move, and I'm guessing many people will remain in blissful ignorance of this fact until Blizzard stick a large sign up that proclaims 'Free Loot Here.' Even then some people will complain they weren't told. You could put that in the individual perception argument but actually it is less to do with what the players work out and more about how Blizzard make us game. Questing would have given a perfect opportunity to present said reward, but we don't do that on the Timeless Isle. There is another way, of course, and it would be far simpler for everyone to grasp. It would also be the most controversial thing Blizzard had ever done, far more so than anything else that preceded it, and that's why it's exactly the right moment to propose it.

It is time to introduce a new 'currency' to the Expansion. Blizzard need to guarantee some practical rewards that acknowledge you turned up and stayed put, and that if you continue to do so you'll be rewarded for your loyalty.
Make 10 visits, get a free coffee? Gonna need more than that Blizzard ^^

Yes, I'm proposing a Loyalty System for Warcraft, and the entire Blizzard stable. It's hardly new or innovative, but it does play on one factor that (as yet) has not been tapped by the gamemakers: how long you play and what you buy outside the game. That in itself is fairly controversial: what about new players? Wouldn't a loyalty system that worked on the time you've had an account disadvantage those who came to play for the first time? Well, yes it would, but this wouldn't be about them. Sorry about that, but I'm not looking at a system that plays on short term entitlement. I'm talking about something that acknowledges the amount of effort you've put in over a sustained period. That's what loyalty means, after all.

This means you'd be rewarded a token in-game for a variety of different factors. Off the top of my head, we'll take these ones for starters:

  • How many years you've been playing each of Blizzard's game. For each year, you earn 1 Token.
  • How many Expansions you've bought and registered to Battle Net. For each of those, you earn one Token.
  • Every Blizzard game you register to Battle Net also earns you 1 Token.
  • Every time you level a toon to current max level, 1 Token.
  • Having a permanent game subscription earns you one token every three months.

Your tokens are delivered to a designated main character when earned. The items they provide can be used on any toon, and are Battle net account bound. There's a vendor in game, in every major city, who you can spend these tokens with. What can you buy? Well... you have a selection of pets only available for tokens. Then there's vanity items: again, only available for tokens. Most importantly and crucially, there's armour. It's not as good as you'd get in 10/25 man raiding, but it's appreciably better than 5 mans, LFR and Flex. If you hang around for an entire Expansion you'll have a set of armour that doesn't look like anything else in game.

If you choose not to want to clothe just one character, you can use a number of tokens to buy a set of lower level gear for an alt, which is provided as a standard 'set' well below what would be available in a dungeon or instance. These tokens will also buy trinkets, rings and necks that are upgraded each patch to be at a comparable level to instanced gear. Your ultimate reward for being a Blizzard player is the chance to take all of this and you need never set foot in a single instance to get it.

However, you still need to keep playing the game. If you cancel your subscription, you also lose your Loyalty Items.

I'd love to know just how difficult an idea legally this would be to make happen (any lawyers out there reading this?) but part of me knows the objections to this would be long, loud and sustained... but the basic fact remains that this is at least in part one way of rewarding the loyal player base in a manner far more effective than just a Baby Blizzard Bear or an Onyxian Whelp. As a lot of the issues about gearing and entitlement come from those who have been in game since the word go, this could be an effective way to give them finally an opportunity to show their continued commitment to the game. It is not only utterly ridiculous but beautifully perfect in it's possibilities.

People laughed at the RMAH, after all. Look what happened to that.


Matty said...

How about they just keep it simple and on their anniversaries give the players something amazing? I would look forward to that more than birthdays!

R said...

I've often wondered why they don't offer something a bit more subtle... say, a 1% improvement in RNG for every year you're subscribed. After 5 years, an item that's normally a 15% drop would be a 20% drop for you. A 1% mount would be a 6% mount. Etc. Maybe even have it influence rolls... get an automatic +5.

While I like the concept of tokens in general, I'm already dealing with token overload from this expansion alone... JP, VP, HP, CP, Ironpaws, Lessers, Elders, Mogus, Warforged (or whatever they're called), Darkmoon... I'm starting to think the worst thing Blizzard did was give us a currency tab, it gave them free reign to introduce new currencies whenever they feel like it.

But yes, I'd like to see some sort of loyalty reward or incentive of SOME sort. If the annual subscription deal taught us anything (aside from the fact that D3 is a decent game when you get it for free) it's that many of us are just looking for an excuse to hang around...

Anonymous said...

City of heroes had a scheme along these lines - it offered additional character slots, costume items etc. if I recall correctly. It was something nice as a subscriber but didn't keep me playing the game once I'd gotten bored.

Corv said...

Er. The RMAH? As in, D3's RMAH? Considering it's about to shut down for good, and it cheapened the already-weak D3 endgame, I'm not sure that's a compelling argument.