Should CCP put more effort into rewards for loyal customers? The mystery code from the collector’s edition hasn’t seen much use and whilst veteran rewards have been mentioned by CCP several times at Fanfests, we have seen nothing. Wasn’t there talk of a special station only 10-year vets could dock in at one point?
Is this lack of gratitude towards loyal customers alienating? Do people wish for a change here? Is it too self-righteous to expect small signs of gratitude for being a loyal customer? Is a customer purchasing half a year in advance more loyal than someone plexing every now and than probably missing out a few weeks or months a year? How do CCP place rewards in game without hurting the economy?
Or is it just a case of there is no need and HTFU snowflake?
I am tempted to just respond with a line from a Girl Scouts song;
Make new friends but keep the old,
One is silver, the other gold.
This is the essential divide, new players and old hands. Any MMORPG that plans to survive and thrive needs both. But there is always a tension between those two groups. New players want to join and be accepted and be part of the game, often before they know the ropes, while the vets have been known to scoff at those with recent start dates because they haven’t paid their dues… or even done enough to prove they know which way is up.
And in EVE Online, a conflict driven game where we seem to go out of our way to find things that divide us from our fellow players, do you dare hand something to only one of the groups you need?
Veteran rewards are not a new thing in the MMORPG space. I think the most ingrained one is the rewards in EverQuest II, a system that hands you something at regular intervals through your first year and then on every anniversary thereafter.
Having started EQII at launch, I have a whole host of veteran rewards ranging from titles to experience potions to house decor items to prestige housing. I have liked a lot of the things I have received over the years.
Of course, since SOE set this up, it is a bit screwy. This coming November EQII will be celebrating its 13th anniversary. Then, in less that two weeks I will get my 14th anniversary reward because SOE gave everybody an extra 90 days of “seniority” (for lack of a better word) with their first four expansion, so player anniversaries are 360 days ahead of the game’s anniversary for some of us.
Then there was the point when SOE decided that time spent unsubscribed did not count towards your anniversary. For the first few years then just marked from your account creation date. Then somebody got angry about unsubscribed freeloaders coming back to reap rewards, so they coded the system to only count days when you were paying to play. And then the game went free to play and suddenly people unsubscribe were still customers and they went back to your account creation date.
Having gotten past the transition to people playing for free with Alpha Clones, CCP could start doing something like that, handing out things to long time players. I would keep it to purely cosmetic things… maybe a service ribbon on your medals page? But then again, your creation date is right there in your profile, so anybody can see that. But there ought to be something, as it would off-set a bit of what new and returning players get.
Because new and returning players do get the financial deals. Offers for reduced subscription prices don’t make their way to current subscribers. You need those incentives sometimes to tempt people to commit or return to the fold and get involved again. And CCP does keep them low key enough that they are not an issue unlike.. sigh… we’re going back to the SOE well again.
I think the worst example of making your veterans feel short changed was the living legacy campaign, back when EQ and EQII were still subscription only. SOE rained down equipment on players returning to the game… returning to use a summer of free time they had been given while loyal subscribers were still paying full fare… which caused more than its share of outrage in the forums. I think that was about the time that “slap in the face” became the official corporate motto for SOE.
So, yeah… don’t do that.
Of course, the standard response to complaints from veterans of a game that new and returning players are getting special bennies is that they have been able to experience the game, having been subscribed and playing. That is a benefit that money or incentives cannot retroactively change, but rings a bit hollow in many games.
However, in a game like EVE Online, that is actually a big deal. If you were not around for The Great War, the Fountain War, the Halloween War, or the Casino War… well… you missed those events and they won’t ever be coming back. The great battles at B-R5RB or 6VDT-H or M-OEE8 (there are a few choices for that system, so take your pick; they were all special in their own way) were singular, player driven events and CCP couldn’t make them play out as before even if they wanted to.
Even beyond the “great” events, there are hundreds of small but meaningful (to those who were there) events that happen every day in New Eden that shape the course of the game in subtle ways. Every little fight can change somebody’s perspective on the game.
And then there are skill points, the ace in every veterans hand. The surest sign of longevity in EVE Online, even in an age where you can buy your way into the club, is the amount of skill points you posses. I just posted on Monday how I had passed the 170 million skill point mark, which is a lot of skill points to my mind, an achievement I obtained not by being good at the game or paying any extra cash or by blowing up many ships or from having done any great service to the community, but by merely hanging around the game off and on for more than a decade.
In any MMO, the veterans tend to accumulate wealth. But with skill points they also accumulate the ability to do things in a way unlike most other games. So I am pretty sure long time vets of the game don’t have much to complain about. We don’t get discount offers to subscribe, but we also don’t have to PLEX our way into the skill points we need to do what we want.
So CCP can continue on its way when it comes to special event, which is sort of the way World of Warcraft does it; events and rewards are available to those who are playing when they happen, and if you’re not you miss out.
However, if CCP wanted to give players a little cosmetic indicator showing years of service… a special portrait frame or something like that… I wouldn’t object. But it is totally not necessary. I have skill points and accumulated items and ISK and screen shots and stories and memories enough to mark my status.
Anyway, that is my view. Others looking into this month’s topic include: