Crowns Reward Events: A Closer Look

I wasn't originally going to write about the Crowns Reward event, but Wizard101 recently unveiled their second one in much the same fashion as the first, even after all of the negative feedback. With this event, wizards can spend crowns as they "normally would" and earn exclusive rewards. The event, in its first and now second form, has not been well-received. Here's a little insight into what's happening, how it might improve, and why you should tune in and make your opinion known.

About the Events

I'm guessing most of you are familiar with how the events work. If so, feel free to skip down to "What's Wrong." For those who are not or who are interested in my commentary, here's a quick rundown. The first of these events was the Night-Knight Reward Weekend Event. As you spent crowns on items in the Crown Shop, you would get your items just like you normally would, but you'd also earn extra prizes based on the amount of crowns you spent. The problem? In order to earn the only non-cosmetic event-exclusive item, the 55% mount, you needed to spend 550,000 crowns. Buying crowns at the most affordable tier of 60,000 meant you'd need to have spent nearly $750.

The more recent event is the Glorious Morn Crowns Reward Event. Unlike the first, this event seems to last longer and "only" requires spending half - 225,000 crowns - in order to get the mount. 

Regular Spending

One thing to keep in mind, and that KingsIsle was sure to remind players of, is that you aren't paying $750 for a mount. You're just buying things as usual and getting rewards along with it. Except you're still spending $750. Hence why memes were born across the Spiral, with jokes made that one could buy an actual electric scooter for a fraction of that price. No one is forcing your hand - you don't have to participate. But people responded. And they came out in big numbers to offer feedback.

The Rewards

One of the notable parts of the event is that other rewards are available beyond a gear set and mount. These events offer exclusive member benefit elixirs so that crowns players can use those benefits for a few hours after spending so many crowns. But other rewards are completely baffling. For example, in the current event, at the 125,000 crowns tier, you earn a 5-hour gardening benefit elixir... and a wooden rake and medium enchanted planter. A wooden rake can be purchased at the Bazaar for less than 250 gold. A medium enchanted planter can be purchased in the Crown Shop for 750 gold. 

Course Correction

The developer team noted in their Dev Diaries video on the Crowns Reward event that they were listening to feedback. And there was certainly a change made - the tiers were cut in half for the second event. This generated less negative feedback, but still plenty of it, from official fansites and owners to prominent YouTubers and streamers, to the average player sharing their thoughts on social media. The event announcement tweets are some of the most responded to on Wizard101's Twitter account.

What's Wrong

One could dismiss this event simply as something that's not for them. And I think that will be most people. Or, they could spend whatever they were going to spend, and enjoy whatever rewards they receive. Why is this such a big issue? The first reason that comes to mind is the concept of rewards for crowns players. This has been a long-time request since the release of member benefits, which are benefits that are 100% a reward for members or anyone who spends $10 to unlock that month's rewards. 

Crowns players, on the other hand, have annoying additional UI on their screens if they haven't made a recent purchase and lose access to the forums by the same standard. Even if crowns players have spent more than members... a lot more... they don't get the benefits or rewards. One issue with this event is that member benefits are an unequivocal benefit for members. Crowns Events are designed instead to encourage more spending. You don't get rewarded for the money you've spent or your status as a player. You get rewarded by spending more. Plus, think of the cost difference. If you spend 9,000 crowns in one weekend, the equivalent of $9-18, you get a one-hour gardening benefit, as opposed to a $10 membership which offers multiple days of gardening benefits plus all the usual perks of being a member. But that's only the beginning. Here are my three major concerns with this event.

Completionist Standards

Wizard101 is not a hardcore MMO. It's been pretty standard for a long time that anyone, with a little effort, can completely finish the game and get a great gear set. This is part of my issue with difficult end-world bosses (glad to see Medulla is doable now!). Almost nothing in Wizard101 is as unattainable as the items in this Crowns Reward Event. And Wizard101 tends to be full of completionists - people who like to finish and do as much as they can.

Game Direction

Wizard101 is not a hardcore MMO. Over the past few months, we've seen overcoats and cosmetic items in Animal Cove priced at $20.00 a piece, we've seen these crowns events, and we've seen more Crown Shop items than ever. Half of the recent Spring update was new items and features all available in the Crown Shop, from packs to emotes to teleports to character slots and more. If we are silent on this issue, this may be the future of our games, and it's not one that most of us are fond of.

I have seen more effort put into these Crown Shop systems and frequent events than I have in system improvements and new content, especially in Pirate101. I think we need to shift the focus back to the game rather than its micro-transactions.

Family Audience

Let me say this one more time: Wizard101 is not a hardcore MMO. The cost of these events demonstrate a fundamental misunderstanding of who Wizard101 is targeting. They encourage reckless spending. Does anyone think $750, or even half of that, spent in one weekend on miscellaneous game items (not even an update or new content) is responsible? Is that a good lesson for kids playing the game, or a good look to their parents? Even when you consider that the rewards are just "extras," the sheer suggestion that players would or should spend that much in that short of time should be, if anything, discouraged by the game. That cost is more than permanently buying all of Wizard101's premium areas! Furthermore, this made a mockery of Wizard101 on several gaming news sites. This is not a look that I want for the game we all love. I'm not sure it's appropriate for any audience, but especially not this one. That's why I am making my voice heard rather than brushing it aside.

Potential Improvements

I didn't write all of this simply to bash KingsIsle. That's not my goal. I think they had a decent idea and it went off in the wrong direction, so I want to dedicate a little bit of time to suggesting improvements for this system. I realize this is not the type of feedback KingsIsle tends to take, but it's worth a shot anyway.

Overall Amount

First, drop it to a reasonable amount to spend in a week or weekend. I'm talking about 20,000 crowns. That's still a LOT, especially for what's available in the Crown Shop, but $20-40 worth of crowns in one weekend is at least more reasonable than hundreds of dollars. If that doesn't fit the prizes, then offer different prizes. Obviously the gear and mount haven't been a big enough draw to have any normal person pulling that much money out of their wallet anyway. So dial it back. Don't be afraid to go small.

Change in Duration

Don't limit the event to a weekend, or a week. Expect someone to spend no more than 20,000 crowns in a month (which is still a lot of money for a family game). But if you want the prizes at higher tiers, run this event in the background for three months with the top reward at 60,000 crowns.

New Direction: Periodic Lifetime Reward

Here's the best suggestion I have, but KingsIsle may not like it. Stop making this a marketing thing. Turn it into an actual rewards event. Show people their total amount of crowns spent on their account over the duration of the account lifetime. Then, like random member benefits, occasionally reward people who have spent "x" crowns... ever. Have you spent 10,000 crowns on your account since you made it? Surprise! You get a 1-hour gardening benefit elixir if you log in this weekend to claim it. Have you spent over 250,000 crowns on your account since you created it? You get a mount this weekend! Now, people can spend more at their own pace. They can also spend during the event to reach the reward tier amount. But instead of throwing away an outrageous amount of money for an event every month or two, they're getting actual rewards for what they've spent... something crowns players haven't gotten much of.

Make Your Voice Heard

Don't be lulled into submission by Crown Shop fatigue... Yes, plenty of items have been released in the Crown Shop over recent months, but it's still important to take a look and make your voice heard. Here's why.

Feedback Moving Us Forward

Criticism, especially where constructive, is not the same as "hating on" KingsIsle. Criticism is often a sign that someone cares enough to thoroughly examine a part of the game and offer actual feedback - maybe not for that person's benefit, but to benefit the game as a whole. And it works. Feedback moves us forward. If no one said anything last time - if we all just sat back and said "this isn't aimed at me and I'm just going to ignore it" - we'd probably have another 550,000 crown tier during this second event. Instead, it's less. Don't get me wrong, it's not the least bit reasonable. But KingsIsle is listening. So share your feedback! Don't sit on your opinion and just hope this will work itself out on its own.

Turning Point

I think that part of these changes have to do with new members of the marketing team at KingsIsle. I feel this could be a turning point for the game, and whether that's a good turning point or a poor one relies on the careful coordination of KingsIsle and its audience. We need each other, so let's be open and honest about what's happening. Keep your feedback constructive, but don't hold back!

What are your thoughts on these events?

Thanks for reading and see you in the Spiral!

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