Thursday, May 14, 2009
Playing for incentives
Green Armadillo of Player vs. Developer has a great post up on Blizzard trying to discourage players from playing Wintergrasp by removing incentives, turning the daily quests into weekly quests. Simply put, there were too many incentives to do Wintergrasp, so too many players played there, causing a lot of server problems. Reducing the incentives will reduce the number of players, and balance the load on various zones better.
Thinking about that I couldn't help but notice how different a game like Free Realms is regarding incentives. So different that I sometimes get reader's comments about FR here which completely miss the point, trying to apply the WoW incentive-based game philosophy to Free Realms, which simply doesn't work. For example I don't particularly care for the Free Realms two kart racing games. But in Free Realms my level in kart racing, and any quest rewards I might acquire doing kart racing, only affect the kart racing game itself and are completely irrelevant to my progress as blacksmith / miner, or chef, or brawler, or any other job. Thus whether SOE increases or decreases the incentives of the kart racing game has zero influence on me playing the kart racing game, because in any case the rewards would only help me to race karts better, which isn't that much fun to me.
In World of Warcraft the various possible activities are much more connected. You don't need to be a big fan of PvP to want to play Wintergrasp. Some people just do it because of the incentives, because the rewards are good, and doing Wintergrasp every day will help you get gear you'll want for arenas or raids. Thus Blizzard's plan will work, because by removing the incentives you remove a lot of players who are only there for the rewards, while those who play Wintergrasp because they happen to like it will stay.
Is it just me, or is there something inherently wrong about a game design in which you end up pursueing a game activity you don't like very much only because of the incentives, the rewards that will enable you to access the part of the game you really want to play?