This week, I’d like to talk a little about something I’ve not heard mentioned a whole lot outside of a few forum posts – the upcoming end to Final Fantasy XIV veteran rewards. I’ve played games that have had, and still have, veteran rewards for remaining subscribed and playing for a certain amount of time. Up until now, FFXIV has been one of them. Now, things are going to change.
A Look at Veteran Rewards
The idea behind veteran rewards is to give long-time and loyal subscribers a little extra perk for sticking around. Considering FFXIV is one of the rare subscription MMOs out there now days, it seems like a nice little “thank you” from the devs to folks who have supported the game, even between patches and during times when things are a little more quiet in Eorzea.
At first, the gifts came at a pretty regular pace: 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, 180 days. Some of these rewards included special minions, mounts, and barding. But as more time started to pass, the time between veteran ranks grew. Now we have 720 days, 840 days, and all the way up to 1080 days. Some of these rewards are much larger, like full sets of cosmetic gear designed after heroes of traditional Final Fantasy games. These allow players to dress up as beloved characters, such as Zidane from FFIX… and eventually Squall for the upcoming 1440 reward.
The End of Veteran Rewards
But then, all of the sudden, players started passing around the rumor that veteran rewards would stop. People claimed that it was hinted at in an interview in a Live Letter. There were forum posts and gnashing of teeth.
Finally, this was confirmed for good in the most subtle, hidden way possible. A small message was tacked on to the end of a bug fix in the Patch 3.4 Notes. It simply said: “Rank 14 is the final rank for veteran rewards.”
This means that though veteran rewards will still be obtainable in game, once you reach day 1440, there are no more rewards to earn.
Wait... what? Why are veteran rewards ending? A lot of speculation tossed around on the forums.
The most common thought was that as veteran rewards moved from being just minions and barding to full cosmetic outfits that would take thousands of days to achieve, newer players became discouraged and jealous of older players who had remained subscribed long enough to obtain these things.
Knowing some MMO players, I wouldn’t doubt there are some feelings like this out there. Players who really love their cosmetics don’t like having to wait on them while seeing other people wearing them around in-game.
I have a hunch this is part of the reason why the special cosmetics we got from Fan Fest aren’t accessible until the EU Fan Fest is complete next year. It’s kinda a bummer for those of us who have already attended and returned home thinking they’d have a cool outfit to wear, but it is what it is.
Another theory was that maybe the team was tired of putting resources into making free veteran rewards… And quietly tacked on to the end of that thought is the whisper of “because, cash shop.”
It’s true that when the game first rolled out and veteran rewards were easier to get, there was no cash shop in FFXIV. For the most part, the cash shop is not intrusive and I don’t see signs of it all over the UI like I do in F2P games.
However, I’ve begun to question some of the prices I’ve seen of newer-released content in the FFXIV store. It wouldn’t be a stretch to think that maybe there’s a bit of money behind the choice to stop giving away cosmetics and start selling them… especially when you have things like Cloud’s or Squall’s outfit that a lot of people would want.
Yet another thought is that maybe the veteran reward system is too archaic. I mean, when I look back at other games I’ve played that offer vet rewards, they’re usually older games, usually games that started out with a subscription model. Vet rewards were there to entice players to stick with a subscription.
But, with the coming of F2P or B2P games, rewards have turned into more of an enticement to log in each day, rather than to stay subscribed. Loyalty is about consistent daily logging… because if you’re not logging in, you’re not considering buying stuff from the cash shop, right?
This shift in the MMO environment means that people are getting used to having rewards thrown at them for logging in each day. These rewards usually get better for each day you log in, with something really neat at the end of 30 days or so. Off the top of my head, I’m thinking about how Guild Wars 2 rewards players each day.
So when you compare this to telling players they have to wait for 1440 days of subscription before they can earn whatever reward they want… Yeah, that may be asking a lot from players who are used to daily rewards in other games.
Perhaps veteran rewards based on subscription time isn’t working as a tool of retention like the developers hoped? That leads to the next thing on my mind.
Replacing the System of Veteran Rewards in FFXIV
This is all going into the realm of personal speculation, based on a few rumors I heard around the forums. The thoughts center on that when veteran rewards are discontinued, we may get something more akin to daily login rewards in FFXIV.
Again, nothing has been confirmed on this, but it's a very nice thought. Imagine logging in each day to earn a little extra gil, or maybe some materia, or maybe even a few extra tomes or such. If they want to be very nice, we might get a minion or an occasional Fantasia potion at the end of 30 days. I can dream, can’t I?
As nice as this all sounds, I’m not too sure of the likelihood of this kind of replacement. FFXIV seems to like focusing more on weekly achievements, such as the challenge log or Wondrous Tails, rather than daily things. The team also likes players to work for what they earn for the most part, and seem to balk at handing things out without at least a little bit of time investment involved. However, that doesn’t mean that things won’t change.
As I’ve noted, gamer expectations have shifted over time, especially with exposure to a vast library of F2P MMOs out there to try. While FFXIV has held on to a lot of old skool sensibilities, I feel like they may have to twist and bend the formula to ensure they remain relevant in the eyes of players.
For that reason, I feel like we shouldn’t write off the possibility of some kind of daily login or similar reward system that may replace the wayward vet rewards. I know that for myself, vet rewards were always just a nice perk and a fun “thank you” that I got from the team from time to time. But should the devs implement a more frequent rewards system, I won’t complain.