In Path of Exile, many players have been complaining about layers of RNG and the lack of “incremental rewards”. What are Incremental Rewards? Breach Splinters, Harbinger Shards, and Divination Cards are good examples of incremental rewards. Rather than having a 0.01% chance of dropping a Breachstone from a Breach mob, you have a 1% chance of dropping a Breach Splinter.
Why do people want Incremental rewards?
While I’m sure there’s a strong argument to be made that people want PoE to be a more rewarding Skinner Box, I think that the actual reason is much more simple: economy. Incremental rewards are a method of income redistribution.
Let’s take a casual player who plays an hour a day and accumulates 10ex or so by the end of the league. Now let’s clone her a thousand times. Let’s say the chase unique is worth 100ex, and RNG dictates that only one of these players will get that items. So one person ends up with 110ex for the league (becomes quite rich), while the rest of the players get nothing.
Now let’s make that chase item have a div card which you need 100 of to make the item. Instead of one player getting the entire item, each player would average out to 1/10th of the item (10 cards each). So instead of one player being at 110ex and the rest being at 10ex, each player ends up at 20ex (with variance, more like 18-22ex).
What’s important to note here is that these players would never be able to afford that chase item. I’d be surprised if even 5% of the player base has enough currency at league end to purchase a mirror, for instance. But doubling their income will allow them to get to their build faster, or try twice as many builds as they usually would, just by selling off these cards.
A lot of more casual people want to try some of the end game content, but if you’re only making 10ex a league, dropping 1/10th of your wealth to attempt a shaper run seems like a heavy price to pay when you’re unlikely to make back that money. Let alone if you aren’t sure if you can do the fight! This applies equally to going heavily into a shaped map strategy with sextants or the like – if you get unlucky while running the first set of maps, you will see your pool dwindle and can lose that investment.
Making sure that there are more incremental rewards in the game, especially involving league mechanics, will allow more players to be able to engage with the game more. And that’s good. And adding incremental rewards doesn’t mean you have to dole out more stuff, you just have to distribute it better.