I’ve often talked about how to increase re-playability in MMOs and lately I’ve been thinking about prestige content. While the mechanic is not largely used in American MMOs I feel that it does have merit. For those that are unfamiliar with the term prestige content it essentially means you gain access to different rewards through your actions in the game. I recognize that by that description I’ve summed up what MMOs are in general. Prestige content, however, suggests that those rewards require more effort than the usual game progression.
Prestige content is somewhat like achievements. If you complete a certain action or set of actions you’ll be treated to something fairly exclusive in your MMO of choice. The rewards could also scale from minor to major depending on the difficulty of archiving them. The possibilities are endless on what could be rewarded. Early rewards could be something as simple as a hair style that wasn’t available at character creation but earned from a special quest.
I think the concept can go a lot further than that though. Imagine a set of prestige races that can be unlocked for alternate characters. These could either be different versions of existing races or perhaps even more powerful ones. Having a slight advantage and a unique look would do a lot to increase player interest in playing through the game once more.
The biggest issue behind this sort of plan, however, is waste. Creating additional races that aren’t immediately available to all players can seem like a misuse of resources. Additionally, if the prestige races are very difficult to earn, you invest a lot of time for little reward. On the other side of things, however, if they’re too easy to earn they will not feel special. There would have to be a balance and that might be a tough one to fine. You also have to ask the question, “Is it acceptable for these races to just be better?”
The key thing to remember is that the achievements can be earned through any activity, not just the usual power gamer methods. They also don’t have to be races, that is just the example I used. The possibilities are endless though and I’d love to see what sort of creative ways this concept could be used. What do you think? Do you like velvet ropes in your MMOs?
Originally posted on Epic Slant.