Player Loyalty

Something SOE does quite well in Everquest 2 (and presumably some of it’s other games) is encourage loyalty from their player base. They have a very simple mechanic called veteran rewards which allows you to claim fluff items, titles, experience potions and the like depending on how many days old your account is. It’s pretty basic and appeals to vanity but I always found it a nice little addition.

Being one of the first subscribers to EQ2 meant I had an exceptionally old player account and I used to take a small amount of glee by being one of the first to access a new title or fireworks display. It was also kinda cool to be able to show people that you were a founding member of the game and veteran player through your title even if you’d just rolled a new alt. It was also an easy way of letting people know you weren’t a complete noob.

I’m surprised these veteran rewards weren’t more heavily utilised by SOE in EQ2 (I think they decided they could make more money by selling people fluff items than by giving them away based on account age) and also that this type of loyalty scheme isn’t more heavily advertised in other MMORPGs. I doubt it would actually cause people to keep their subscriptions active even once they got bored of the game but it’s certainly nice to receive a little thank you from the developers for being such a loyal gamer. Plus, I think there’s also a certain amount of pride that a player can take by letting others know that they are a longstanding member of their MMO community.

Having taken a quick peek on the Internet, it appears that Aion has just introduced a veteran reward system of it’s own, offering a batch of goodies for players who stick it out every month up to 6 months (and beyond I’m guessing). Maybe it help people get through the dreaded grind that I keep hearing about.

Personally I find the concept of veteran rewards and player loyalty quite appealing but whether or not it’s actually effective or not is anyone’s guess. What do you think?

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  1. spinks says:

    I’m not fond of it. Its why my husband refuses to give up his CoH account despite the fact he almost never pays it.

    Its not that we can’t afford it, but it seems like such a lot of money to be piling into something you don’t play every year just for some cosmetic rewards that you might or might not like.

  2. Ysharros says:

    @Spinks — this is why SOE is so smart. In EQ2 (and SWG and therefore I’m thinking several other games they own), it’s not SUBSCRIBED time that matters, it’s purely account age. Whether you were subbed or not makes no difference, and I really appreciate that. It’s meant that whenever I go back to an SOE game that does these things, I qualify for a ton of veteran rewards that make going back just that little bit sweeter.

    Not that any of the rewards (from what I’ve seen) are essential or anything you can’t live without, but they’re like an extra thank you for having subbed in the first place.

    • Tesh says:

      Aye, account age is how Puzzle Pirates does it. They are pretty savvy, too. Since they operate both microtransaction dual currency servers and sub servers, but the sub servers are always lower population, they don’t really offer long term benefits for MT servers. If your account is two years old or older, though, the subscription rate drops to $50/year. It’s a great idea that not only rewards long-timers but also provides a subtle incentive to move to sub servers (or start on them).

    • Gordon says:

      Yeah, I like SOE’s take. It’s more like a reward rather than a carrot. I could sign back up to EQ2 and log in and still have a really old account as I was one of the first people to play.

  3. IRGRL says:

    One of the very small indie games I play just did this recently to keep the player base there. The game gets kind of monotonous after a while, at least to me it does, so they implemented a magical root of sorts. Usually these can only be purchased or found in the labyrinth after many many hours of searching. Now they have started a reward system, the more of a vet you are, the better. My account is #9 and although I don’t play it a lot currently, I still reap the rewards. I don’t delete it because of that aspect. It allows me to log in, use the root to up stats etc, and get back into the game.
    I think games that offer paid items should offer this to people enduring their game as well, Ive seen a few now that have started such a thing as subscriptions were down because o f the economy, they were losing players. Now if your a vet, or if you stay and play, you can actually get a subscription.
    Its a good idea that I think more games should do.

  4. Sharon says:

    I canceled my Aion account this week, and noticed the veterans rewards listed on the same screen as the cancel link. It’s clear that they’re hoping the rewards will increase retention. While I did look to see what I’d gotten for my one-month veteran reward, it didn’t change the fact that I no longer want to play the game.

    I do love the way SOE handles rewards though, based on account age rather than subscribed time. Every time I reactivate my EQ2 account, I get all kinds of new goodies.

  5. Lani says:

    I think you’d be hard pressed these days to find a single subscription based MMO which doesn’t have a veteran reward system. Each and every SOE product has one and so does or did everything from NCSoft. Many F2P MMO’s have something as well.
    It’s just another fluff gimmick that doesn’t cost much in terms of development or overhead. and adds a little to player retention.

    • Gordon says:

      I guess the big MMORPG that doesn’t have a veteran reward system is WoW. It doesn’t seem to offer anything to loyal players which is a shame. I’m a new (1 year) player but I still think it would be nice to get some rewards for having subscribed for so long!

  6. Longasc says:

    In the end all these systems are just aimed at player retention, little effort for keeping some people subscribed.

    Veteran rewards are not unique or new. They date back to Ultima Online, EverQuest 1+2, Guild Wars, even Aion has veteran rewards after 1 months or so. ;)
    I just got the Black Beast of Aaargh on one of my Guild Wars chars as 3rd char birthday reward. My oldest chars are almost 5 years by now.

  7. IRGRL says:

    A lot of you mention MMOs which are what I consider main stream, but as we all know there are thousands upon thousands that are not so in the spotlight that have a heavy player base, and still don’t use this system to keep people. For someone who does PR for games like these, this is the easiest way, fluff or not, when you know someone has played your game for 5 years, the chances they delete their account are slim to none if you offer them rewards for being a vet. But as many games as you can mention do use this, there are still thousands more that don’t. and should :)

  8. Stabs says:

    I think the word “loyalty” has been stretched here by marketing people.

    I feel loyalty to my family, to my country, to my friends, and to some extent to my online guilds.

    I don’t feel loyalty to supermarkets, games companies and so forth.

    Possibly I’m being pedantic. But I think as customers (rather than fans) we should resist being brainwashed by marketing speak.

    I can respect a company like Blizzard and take an interest in future products in the knowledge that I’ve liked their stuff in the past.

    But I don’t feel any loyalty to them. Hell, even if I worked for them I doubt I’d feel any loyalty to them, nor would they hesitate to sack me if my job ceased to make them money.

    True loyalty is bestowed based on respect and love, not purchased with mini-pets.

    • Gordon says:

      You’re right. I think the word “retention” is probably better. For example, I prefer to shop at a particular supermarket because I have a card with them that actually gives me meaningful rewards. Every few months I get enough rewards from them to be able to go out for dinner with my wife and it’s a pretty nice incentive to keep me shopping there. Of course, I’m not actually “loyal” to them :)

  9. Bronte says:

    This is sort of like the WoW -year anniversary, account age-based rewards.

  10. Wolfshead says:

    I appreciate MMO companies that value their long-term customers. Naturally Blizzard is the only company that doesn’t seem to care about instituting a customer loyalty program because since they are the number one MMO today they must figure they don’t need it. But someday and I hope that day is soon — they will care about customer loyalty when subscribers start dropping like flies.

    This is truly a misguided decision on their part. Customers that keep subscribing month after month *should* get some kind of recognition. This is one area where SOE has it right.

    Would it really kill Blizzard to reward loyal subscribers with small in-game pets, healing/mana potions, experience potions, bags and other trinkets?

    Also, why not give long-standing, loyal customers beta slots for upcoming expansions? Who better to test content then committed customers?

    Honestly, there are times that Blizzard’s decisions seem idiotic, mindless and silly. This is one of them.

    I wrote about this back in 2008 on my blog:

    • Gordon says:

      Yeah, I never understood why Blizzard didn’t have a loyalty or veteran reward scheme. It seems like they are one of the only major MMORPGs that doesn’t have one. It does irk me a little as, like you said, it’s as if they don’t value the individual.

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