Coming from a suggestion by PSLS superfan, Chandler Wood, Daily Reaction discusses the effect of having a rewards program, and what Sony could learn from the one Microsoft recently announced. Will Sony regret not continuing the program they once started, or will Microsoft close theirs out just like Sony did?
Dan: Well first off we really should point out that this system being released by Microsoft is not exactly a new concept. In 2010 Sony ran a similar tiered program that gave avatar rewards, PS Home items, and even a chance to go to CES 2011 to gamers who earned a specific amount of trophies during its beta program. Sadly the program came to a halt a few months later, but Sony mailed out exclusive t-shirts to reward members who achieved specific levels.
This ability to give gamers a goal to achieve by setting even the smallest level of rewards, was a great concept by Sony, as it instilled an almost RPG like element into the simple act of gaming. The fact that they closed it down is pretty confusing, as I cannot see what exactly the cost would be to keep a program like that running, as most of it should be pretty much automated. Not to mention, putting it as a PS+ program would just give members even more reasons to apply than they are already given. The fact that Microsoft is now taking over the concept, and adding a discount on purchases and additional prizes, really should force Sony to rethink abandoning the program completely.
Seb: I almost see the XBL Rewards program as a response to PS+. 360 gamers have to pay to play online, so it’s only fair they get something in return. But, in reality, this Rewards program is pretty crappy. If you have a 3000+ gscore, you get “A Special Gift during your birthday month”. Yeah, that does sound cool, so let’s check the fine print:
Birthday Gift (approximate retail value (“ARV”): $0.25 USD)
And if you get a gscore of 25000+, the top prize is a 2% rebate on purchases. That’s lame.
Sure, I’d rather have it than not, but I’m glad we have PS+, which gives you far better rewards for a similar price.
But the idea of incentivizing playing games on a 360 is a smart move by MS, and could end up getting multiplatform owners to buy 360 games over PS3 ones, which will quickly make the scheme worth the investment.
Dan: Well the concept behind the rewards program would actually have little to do with the reward, as it would the bragging rights behind the status. That is exactly why Sony pushed as the primary thing that people received – an avatar that clearly stated the rank of the user. Gamers by nature are fairly competitive people, we may not get grouped in with sports fanatics, but what other group of people spend their free time overcoming challenges. This idea was fantastic, as it gave people more reasons to trophy hunt, as people were more likely to see someone’s avatar than their friend’s level. So, this could have driven sales of obscure titles, much like trophy hunters have been doing in the past.
The rewards given by Microsoft, while very marginal, are actually cleverly designed. The ability to earn a constant discount on products purchased on their store is a goal that instantly seems amazing. As most people already strive to achieve a high score to brag to their friends, now they can “save” money at the same time. While realistically, the savings are so small they border being laughable, but to those who are power users, this is just another feather in their cap. Also, you can bet the Birthday gift will be an Avatar item to push people to one up their friends, much like Sony had done during their beta.
Seb: Yeah, I think technically-worthless items like avatars are a no-brainer (although Sony really needs to sort out their avatar approval process), because they do give those desperate for meaningless recognition an outlet.
But the whole trophy/achievement thing is rather flawed, because some people just spend their time grinding away on shitty games that have easy platinums, rather than playing games where beating them is an actual ‘achievement’. It’d be great if trophies were independently administered by Sony, or something like that, so that games like Battle LA only has Bronze trophies, or Demon’s Souls had more than one platinum.
I can see a lot of people playing a ton of awful Xbox games just to get this 2% rebate, which really defeats the point of gaming for pleasure.
Were you a member of the PlayStation Rewards beta? Did you earn enough points to earn any prizes? Do you think that Sony should bring it back, and if so what kind of prizes would you like to see? Let us know in the comments and be sure to rank up with Seb and Dan on Twitter.