13/11/2020

Grumbling About Login Rewards

Yesterday the PTS server for 6.2 went up (gosh, it's kind of painful to think that Onslaught has been out for over a year and we're still on 6.1...) and with it a bunch of posts on the PTS forum asking players for feedback on specific new features. One of those features were... "daily login rewards".

Based on the reactions I've seen, most people seem to be 100% on board with getting free stuff just for logging in, but my own gut reaction was more akin to Michael Scott's upon realising that Toby is back in The Office. I am not a fan of daily login rewards at all, and here is why.

Basically, having experienced these kinds of systems in different MMOs, my reaction to them can be summed up like this:

If I'm super casual about the game, just sort of exploring it with little commitment, I don't really care about them because I'm not invested enough to really want to maximise my personal character gains. Depending on the nature of the rewards, they can make for a nice surprise every so often (or annoying inventory clutter the rest of the time), but they don't really make me want to log in more often.

If I'm super hardcore about the game, I log in every day anyway because I actually want to play, and the rewards are likely to not be of great use to me, so once again I don't really care.

If I'm somewhere in the middle however, which is to say somewhat invested in the game but not necessarily driven to log in every single day, log-in rewards are a road to resentment and burnout, as I'll feel compelled to collect them every day to maximise my gains, but at the same time don't really feel like playing every day, making the whole thing feel like a chore. Worst case I end up spending weeks or even months doing nothing but logging in to collect my freebies, until I get so sick and tired of the whole thing that I don't really want to play anymore at all.

Basically, the best-case scenario is that I'm neutral towards the rewards and don't care.

One of the things I've long loved about SWTOR is that in this day of more and more MMOs feeling the need to add "retention mechanics" like this, it has remained surprisingly chill. Yes, there are daily and weekly quests, but there is little compulsion to actually do anything every single day. The game just wants you to have fun on your own terms, and if that involves not logging in for a few days that's okay too. I really don't want it to turn into the kind of game that values engagement metrics over whether players are actually enjoying the game and having fun.

Now, this post was actually going to be a whole lot rantier (yes, really), but then a dev posted an update on the forum thread about the login rewards to explain more about how the system is supposed to work, and it seems they want to avoid the sort of "must log in every day" compulsion that other games are going for.

Assuming I'm understanding everything he said correctly, there won't be any exclusive, time-limited rewards, but instead it's going to be more of an ongoing loyalty system that rotates through a total of 112 generic rewards or so every day you log in, and once you reach the end, the cycle starts all over again. So while logging in more often will give you more stuff faster, you're not actually missing anything if you skip a few days for whatever reason, merely delaying it.

I'll admit that's... probably the least annoying implementation of this kind of system they could have gone for, so thanks for that. I just still kinda wish it wasn't going to be a thing at all.

12 comments :

  1. I'm used to the 28 day rotation from Guild Wars 2. I used to login regularly, but eventually I just let it fall to the wayside. I don't mind that system now because I know I can ignore it as I need.

    Elder Scrolls Online is annoying as their system seems to be tied to the calendar. The few times I login I'm always back at the start, which becomes a disincentive (for me) to coming back.

    The most annoying was Secret World Legends. If you are a subscriber you got one lockbox key each day you subbed (among other, useful perks). I found myself logging in just for the damn key and not playing. Eventually I got smart and let my sub lapse. I mean, I've really enjoyed the game and wanted to support it so that there would be new content, but that's become a vain hope. At least the login rewards are like Guild Wars 2 and are just whenever you log in. (The seasonal event logins are like this, too. Those aren't bad because you know they are going to end and are usually things you want to grab. Plus they are generous enough to let you miss days without penalty.)

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    1. I was going to make the GW2 comparison as well. Honestly, the login rewards there are excellent. They're frequently extremely useful (currencies you actually want and need for a start) and they just go through the cycle whether you leave it a day or a month or a year. No pressure, all win for you.

      The thing is, though, they do really work to keep people logging in. I'm about as certain as I can be that both Mrs Bhagpuss and I woudl have stopped playing GW2 a couple of years ago if it wasn't for the combination of login rewards and dailies. We both talk about "doing our dailies" as if it's the same getting a coffee. It's something you do every day without thinking much about it, or inour case a few times because we each do the dailies on two or three accounts every day. It takes a few minutes, you get two gold and free stuff each time (two gold is a meaningful amount of money in GW2) and the dailies are fun, often as not. Sometimes they draw you in to other content, too, particularly in World vs World.

      I realise I've conflated login rewards with dailies but that's because, for us, they are really one and the same thing. We never just log in, get the reward and log out. We always do our three dailies. It's not an exaggeration to say that, for the last couple of years, the game has been dailies. And it's a good game that way. They could dump the rest and just keep that part and I'd still play. Probably enjoy it more, actually.

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    2. @Pallais I liked the seasonal login rewards in SWL too. I'm fine with that sort of thing as a limited-time event, I just find it tiresome as a permanent feature.

      Neverwinter has the same perk with the free lockbox key for subscribers (VIPs) and it's definitely important that I let that lapse whenever I don't feel like playing that much, or else the daily key collection really starts to get on my nerves. Ironically, I'm not VIP right now but still logging in every day anyway, but for gameplay reasons...

      @Bhagpuss For me there's a huge difference between logging in just to get free stuff and logging in to do some sort of activity though. Do you think you would have stopped logging into GW2 if the login rewards weren't there or would the dailies have been enough to keep you going on their own? And what about the opposite situation (no dailies, just login rewards)?

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    3. @Bhagpuss Why do you want to log in and do only dailies in GW2? Just to slowly grow your wealth, level, or what? For me it sounds like "go to work" with no fun at all. Dailies sounds not like "i play the game".

      I just can compare it with SWTOR, as i don't play other mmos. And i don't see the point in doing CZ-198 over and over again. Am i missing something? At one point you have to set yourself a goal you want to achieve.

      If i say i want to be rich, i do it full time and not bit after bit with log in rewards and some dailies. I would craft the shit out the game and be done with getting rich in two months. :)

      GW2 log in and dailies sounds more like i kill time without any reason beyond i have the time and don't know what to do with it.

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    4. sorry for double post, but i read it again...

      "It's not an exaggeration to say that, for the last couple of years, the game has been dailies. And it's a good game that way. They could dump the rest and just keep that part and I'd still play. Probably enjoy it more, actually."

      ...that really sounds like somebody in SWTOR is only doing CZ-198 and Yavin 4 Daily Areas over and over again and is happy with it. Scrap story, operations, flashpoints, pvp...just these two daily areas. That is a unique way to play a game. Never heard of something like this before.

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    5. @Shintar I hear you. I wish I had a good suggestion on how to make it less of or a non-annoyance.

      I'm wondering if the login reward addition is to prop up their Steam login numbers. They did well for about a month and dropped down to under 10K daily logins (and sometimes not even on the list). That's not a good look for them given that ESO, for example, seems to be steady at around 25k daily logins.

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    6. @Anonymous: I don't find it that strange. :) I'm not that fond of dailies in SWTOR but I certainly know people who are. And I've been "that person" who just grinds dailies on a bazillion alts in other MMOs...

      @Pallais: Oh no, I didn't realise it had dropped off that much. :( I agree that doesn't look too good after the strong launch they had in July. Personally I think people are just starved for some new story content.

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    7. @Shintar I use this site: https://steamdb.info/app/1286830/graphs/ to look at the trends. When I have spot-checked the numbers they were accurate, so I'm comfortable that they are useful to look at. The long term trend has been consistent, at least. I suspect they'll follow the typical MMO trend of peaks with new content, followed by dropping to a steady state of long term players.

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    8. Late reply...

      @Shintar - Oh, it's definitely the dailies that keep me logging in. They work well as a hook to get me started in the long, long gaps between any new content. I log in, do the dailies on two accounts and if I run into something interesting while I'm doing them (usually some action in WvW but also interesting events or a meta going well in a PvE zone) I'll stay around for as long as it stays interesting, which can be a couple of hours or more.

      If it was only logins, good though they are, I'd have lost the habit after a few months. The main reason for that, other than it being pretty pointless to get login rewards for a game you don't play at all, is that I actually dislike the actual process of "logging in" to any game because I don't allow my PC to store any information about login names or passwords so I have to type the entire thing in to every game every time. I pretty quickly get fed up of doing that if I'm not spending any time in the game itself after I've done it.

      @Anonymous - If you haven't played GW2, you need to know that it has almost no vertical progression. The level cap hasn't ever changed since launch eight years ago and there is almost no gear progression at all. You can make a character and have it functionally complete in a week or two. Conversely the game consists of an incredible number of very long "grinds" for currency and crafting materials mostly, and a truly huger number of infinitely repeatable "events" and meta-events. Lots of people pick one sort of thing and do it for ever while others just do bits and pieces of loads of it but there's no real direction everyone needs to go. Doing just dailies makes about as much sense as anything else and they're quite well designed and entertaining, so why not?

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    9. I know people, who only do OPs. I know people, who only do PvP. I know a huge amount of people, who only come back for new story expansions. I guess i now know one guy, who only does dailies. Whatever floats your boat. ^^

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  2. Bit late to the party so I can only agree with liking the GW2 version. When I login, I get something. If I login 7 times in a month, I still get the 7 rewards as with logging in daily, I like this a lot.

    EVE is notorious for absolutely needing to login every day, but in the last year or so they made some events where you could catch up, e.g. log in 3 days of 5 to get all rewards and not just 3 out of 3.

    As I said on Twitter, the worst part for me would be the Authenticator. Even on a day where I don't want to play, logging in to GW2 or EVE is a single click (ok, maybe 3 clicks) but no password. SWTOR doesn't even remember my password, so I need my password manager and my phone, I always play on the same machine, dammit.

    And some login rewards are just enticing enough to get me to login, it's not that I resent the game then, but I don't think it's a great concept either - because at least for me it's only to boost the game's number, I am 0% motivated to play after that. I am motivated to login and logout.

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  3. so it's slightly less scummy than what eso does interesting....... still hate em lol nice to see someone not get all goo goo gaa gaa over free stuff just because it's free stuff. i'm more of a pay for value and like to earn things kinda person.

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