Almost everyone has a rewards program now. Credit cards, online services, you name it. If something regularly wants your money, there’s probably some sort of somewhat attractive incentive structure in place. If you go to movies a lot, there are points to earn and free tickets to get eventually. If you buy a lot of games, well, a lot of these are a work in progress.
At one point, the best games loyalty program was Club Nintendo. You bought Nintendo games, filled out surveys, and got pretty high-quality merchandise you couldn’t get anywhere else. Now that the service has ended and My Nintendo Rewards is the new thing, nobody really cares. It’s a bunch of overpriced discount coupons and desktop wallpapers. Snore.
Meanwhile, Microsoft has been running its Xbox Rewards gimmick for a while. It’s… convoluted to say the least. There are ongoing “challenges” or “missions,” each one generally requiring Xbox fans to buy specific things and spend time with them in order to earn points. The neat thing about this is, those points automatically get banked into your Microsoft Store account as money to put towards more Xbox content. The amount of buy-in is pretty high, and you sort of have to choose your content on the program’s terms, though. You do earn points passively for maintaining subscriptions, to be fair, but the gains there are tiny in comparison.
Sony doesn’t have a specific PlayStation-themed rewards program. Instead, there’s the Sony Rewards Program, which has been around for ages. Sign up and buy Sony stuff, and get points you can turn in for all kinds of items. You can get electronics, like TVs or sound systems, if you’re patient enough to accrue thousands of points. Short term rewards include games and PlayStation Network cards.
The connection to video games used to be the PlayStation credit card. With that, you’d earn points with PlayStation Network purchases way more than normal purchases. Not bad for a credit card. But this year, Sony introduced something even better. Now, you can earn rewards points based on your trophies. And it isn’t specific trophies or games you have to buy as the program specifies each month. It’s whatever you earn from your linked PlayStation Network account.
It’s a grind, sure. You have to get tons of trophies to earn a small amount of points. In fact, to earn a clean 1,000 points (equivalent to a$10 PSN voucher), you need to earn ten platinum trophies. That’s a ton of gaming, like hours and hours and hours depending on the games you play. But it’s something, and that something comes from doing what you’re doing anyway, which is playing your games.
It’s a brilliant strategy – draw attention to your rewards program, but don’t require anything but linking your account and going about your business. Maybe it leads to other things, like credit card applications to keep those points rolling in. Even as it stands, PlayStation fans will see it as a reward for loyalty, which is already a big part of Sony’s messaging for its gaming content. Meanwhile, nobody really talks about Xbox Rewards and Nintendo… well, hopefully that one’s a work in progress.
Every game console company should adopt this practice. Get people to sign up, then reward them for playing games. Dangle the carrot if you must; ultimately the services are about encouraging more spending, sure. But if the rewards aren’t enticing, nobody will bother. Giving something away for “free” is how you garner good will and interest. Making rewards programs appealing to people who aren’t already spending hundreds of dollars a month on gaming needs to be the new standard. If I had to choose between earning points by spending money on free to play games (a current goal on Xbox Rewards) or just… earning whatever trophies I feel like (Sony Rewards), well, it’s not difficult.