I saw a lot of people in general chat and the official forums complaining that WvW doesn’t have enough rewards. The common complaint is: “What keeps me playing WvW when I hit 80 if I do not get a reward?” Despite a discussion delving into the concept of needing to get a cookie for doing every little thing, there’s a valid point to be made for both sides.
1) You shouldn’t need a reward to want to win. Server pride!
2) Despite not needing a reward, you still need an incentive.
Well don’t those two conflict? The first is the spirit of the game. Your server is at war with other servers, and winning is the goal. It appeals to the competitive nature of the players. If you win, you climb the ladder and go against better servers.
Then there’s the the incentive for continuing to participate over time. At first, the ‘Power of the Mists’ benefits will entice players because whoever is winning can gain significant boosts to stats, crafting, and gathering. Those benefits carry over to PvE for -all- members of your realm. Over time that carrot will lose its appeal. Players will need more than being able to loot corpses of players and getting server-wide bonuses. GW2’s sPvP utilizes cosmetic rewards. DAoC used Darkness Falls to entice players into winning in order to control a dungeon for loot. There are many ways to motivate, but not all of them result in quality gameplay.
ArenaNet needs to avoid granting points for killing players, and has to emphasize winning strategies over individual actions. Players will eventually demand a cookie that tastes better than victory. The focus must remain on holding the most keeps, and it should compliment the concept of the entire server winning for the duration of the match-up. A dungeon that offers loot might be the perfect idea. For however long your server is winning you can zone into ‘Dungeon’. When another server is winning, you can’t enter ‘Dungeon’ until you are winning again. The two losing servers will constantly be on the offensive to gain access to the dungeon, and the winning realm will have to both defend their status and utilize the dungeon. This will fuel the conflict for as long as the gear remains fresh — it’s easy to add more dungeons.
While the official forums were still up, I saw the devs talking about the achievement system being utilized for WvW rewards. There was an achievement for being a lifetime WvW’er and winning 25 matchups — a year’s worth of WvW — being discussed. There is a lot of power to be had in using this system to give players titles and other cosmetic rewards. Achievement points alone would be a waste. Something to think about there.
So bottom line, the integrity of WvW can easily be destroyed if manipulated poorly to rewards players (See: Warhammer Online), but players will ultimately need motivation. I hope ArenaNet takes their time and does it right. If I was at the helm, I would go with cosmetic rewards and a dungeon 2-3 months after launch.