For many online games encouraging a continual influx of first time players is good, but retaining players is the most advantageous since those player are already invested.
Of course this isn’t anything new and many games now contain systems that encourage players to log in and stick around for daily activities, events or rewards.
If you have played these games you only just need look at your inbox during Christmas time, almost every title has some kind of event on, maybe some unique skins in the game store, a special unlock if you sign in each day.
It gets to the point that you have to prioritise your time and energy on those you actually want to participate in, which you need to reinstall.
Personally I used to get easily pulled into these traps, Daily login rewards are the most frequently implemented tactic to draw you back into a game, while time limited events keep you engaged for longer, spending more time inside game, and ultimately that is the real cost of these systems, your valuable time (and Hard Drive Space).
Some games of course do it better than others, some wrap the whole thing up in pomp and ceremony that obfuscate the fact from players.
The harnessing of player time
In games where players are your content (PVP), not only do you need to encourage that returning player mentality, there also has to be more impetus to play for longer periods. That where the motherload of all mechanics the “Battlepass” is the system of choice, often a dual tiered reward system, a free tier and a paid tier, where you can pay a cost for more possible rewards.
With the promise of better rewards or XP, unlocks/skins that you can only get via that system, the Fear Of Missing Out now weaponised against the players and comes with a price tag, but not only could you miss out by not purchasing the battle pass, but if you don’t put enough effort in then you also miss out. A 2 pronged attack.
To ensure early adoption of the paid Battlepass, there is normally a boost of some kind that means that players could reach the upper tiers easier and faster, plus those players that purchase don’t want to waste their money so will be sure to login to grind, secured content.
However If you don’t buy the paid version then no XP boost, means if you want to unlock free tier content you have to grind more, which ultimately means you are giving more content for free.
The event calendar
I have played World of Tanks on and off since beta, I occasionally dip a toe back into the Wargaming title once a year, but every year I return, the shine wears off faster and the business model shows a little clearer.
The last time I was playing it was very apparent that there is a continual drive to ALWAYS have an event for players to participate in, often they have win conditions like “Rank in the top 3 for damage in 10 battles” or “each tier of this event you complete reduces the cost of this Premium Tank by 10%”.
For a good player these are achievable without breaking a sweat, for more standard players it becomes much harder, everyone on the server is trying to achieve the same thing, players use tanks that are better at achieving their goal, better ammo & equipment.
Even player’s approaches to matches then alter, not going for a win but purely aiming for their daily goal, you find people throw matches to ensure they check that box for their reward.
This ultimately ruins the game for those trying to play the game normally and undermines the goal the company are trying to achieve, which is retaining players as it just pisses them all off.