|Your desire here. WARNING: Not all desires are feasible.|
Right. We've established Rewards are useful, but the current environment isn't perhaps the most conducive one in which people would want to participate in order to earn them. In fact, even if rewards are lying around in chests just waiting for people to pick them, you're still going to find detractors. It seems that many people agree that the method of earning rewards is a bit complicated and could be simplified, but how that happens is still open for discussion. That leaves us with one area as yet undiscussed: what should these rewards actually be?
What should you earn, what needs to be hard to get, and what gets given to you for free? More importantly, what form should these rewards take?
|Today's hastily-constructed Infographic. No, that's NOT BUZZARD ^^|
There are two items deliberately omitted from that list, but otherwise that's pretty much all the avenues I could think of that we have currently, and with the exception of all but (counts) three, no real money is involved (though you could argue the AH does if you buy your gold, but lets not go there.) Nothing that comes from Expansion incentives, promotional items or the Buzzard Store as yet gives you an obvious in-game advantage either, so it could be fair to say all of these rewards are equal in significance. This might explain why we haven't as yet seen an In-Game store selling items that would buck that trend, because the moment you open the floodgates, one could argue the entire fabric of the gaming experience changes forever. Right now, the biggest focus is with the items on the right:
- Quest Completion (when your husband is almost late to umpire a Hockey game coz he's thinking about his Legendary Cloak, they're doing it right somewhere ^^)
- World Item Drops (Lootistics Island)
- Currency Collection and Exchange (Lootistics Island)
- Instance Drops (Siege)
I did say however that there's one item I deliberately left off, because I was curious as to what I'd actually label it as. Persistance, maybe. Effort? Some might consider Loyalty would be a better description but in the end the word we're all being governed by is TIME. This is the ultimate stimulation for the hard to get mount, or all the pieces for the tier set to mog with. If you have Time, you can do all of these, but you are restricted by the same gating mechanic that restricts any in-game reward: the RNG.
Frustrating, isn't it?
You could argue Time governs every reward's action, but that's not strictly true. The RNG's very nature means you could end up with everything you need in a week while someone else could be waiting months for the same items. Even crafting currently offers no cast-iron guarantees items will be yours by a set timeframe, unless you choose to craft in a regular form (i.e., once a day.) Many people have argued that some rewards should come from using Time in a different way to that which is currently expected in game. For instance, there's where we came in on Thursday: making your own 5 man and walking to an instance. Summoning three other people using a Meeting Stone, and then completing the Instance to which said stone is attached. All those variables should be simple enough to tie together, after all: however, what then becomes a suitable reward?
The problem comes, yet again, with the notion that isn't just one game we are playing, but many, all of which have very specific aims and objectives and in turn lead to very different notions of what constitutes a 'reward.' What one person considers suitable isn't necessarily the next person's idea of acceptable, and this is why rewards are often generic and very clearly defined: PvE Gear, PvP Gear, vanity, pet, mount. As yet, persistence and consistency don't have a reward category... well, actually they do, but Blizzard hasn't touched this since Cataclysm. I reckon all that may well be about to change in a fortnight.
|The perfect Guild demographic. Watch and learn.|
There is a second item missing off that list, but it isn't necessarily relevant because this time around in Pandaria Guild rewards have become a part of what we do. There were no new ones rewarded this Expansion, but expect this to change very soon, because we've seen what Flex can do for small guilds who don't have the option to regularly put out raiding groups. Giving those smaller player bases incentives to use their Guild as a platform, perhaps to even start a new Guild themselves to get to 25 before the new Expansion hits to take advantage of the new rewards we'll get... but what would we be offered? When 'Have Group, Will Travel' was taken away for Pandaria I don't think there was anyone who though it was a good idea, regardless of the reasoning. That was the PERFECT example of a perk for people that worked across the board, regardless of what game you happened to be playing, and that's what is needed to reward those who work and take the time to make things better for everyone.
I think the best indicator of what we MIGHT be seeing in future to reward the long-term player will come with the Token system being built for Recruit-A-Friend. This will give you a choice of rewards (emphasis on CHOICE there) which is up to you to deal with and not Blizzard to simply present. We've discussed the Blizzard Loyalty Card System here before, and this is pretty much along those lines: do nice things for the Devs, and you get back summat special. Of course, you shouldn't expect this to be an advantage to gear, but there are plenty of other things this could affect: XP, raw material gathering, pets and mounts... with the emphasis finally being moved to items with low drop rates or that are currently governed by the RNG. Let's face it, if Blizzard stuck Anzu's Mount on the Blizzard Store people would buy it, but for the sake of all those who farmed it in game it makes more sense to offer it as a reward for a large number of tokens to reflect the relative difficulty of obtaining it via those terms. Your tokens become a currency for rarity value. It makes perfect sense in context.
Rewards are tricky, and you can guarantee when someone gets one someone else is going to whine. This isn't going to change, but what CAN alter is our perception of value, and how loyalty and time can be arbiters of eventual success. Blizzard know they have a lot of very loyal players, after all. I'd expect to see that fact rewarded in a fortnight, in spades.