Individual and Group Rewards

Guild Wars 2 and Ingress both have PvP systems of territorial control with individual and team points, where what earns individual advancement is aligned with but not identical to what helps the team win, leading to a disconnect in incentives similar to agency costs under the principal-agent problem.

GW2 players have WvW levels, and they earn WvW xp by capturing or defending objectives and defeating opponents. There are also rewards of normal xp, loot, cash, and karma to be won, as well as achievements. Teams are rewarded for points per tick (PPT), which come mostly from holding objectives with a few supplemental points other than “per tick.” Player rewards are higher for offense than defense, and we have often discussed the incentive this creates to “karma train” capturing objectives while worrying less about keeping them, fighting the enemy, or winning the matchup. I have had another server let us capture Stonemist Castle while they waited upstairs, because they wanted another capture credit.

Ingress players level up through action points (APs), the best source of which comes from linking portals and creating fields. Creating fields grants the mind units (MUs) by which the teams are scored. The same APs are awarded for a field or link, no matter how big the field is, so players have an incentive to farm AP and level in portal-rich areas like downtowns and historical districts. This weekend, I captured and carefully linked several square blocks of dense portals and got around 120,000 AP, in a game where the (current) level cap is at 1,200,000 AP. This was worth about 200 MU, because it covered several square blocks. It would be worth far more MU to the team, and take far less time , were I to drive to portals a few kilometers from each other and link them up. For this reason, some players are rather unhappy that a geocaching-like game where you are theoretically walking around instead produces larger (team) rewards for people willing to drive around. And if you can get 10% of the level cap in one long walk, that team reward starts to matter a lot more than your AP for linking up. (One of the backbones of the local Resistance is a player who is willing to drive for hours per day, destroying and claiming and linking.)

There are, however, emergent effects that create positive team incentives. Since players hit that level cap relatively quickly, veterans often invite lower-level players to gain all the AP when they destroy enemy portals. The higher-level player blows enemy resonators up while the lower-level player follows behind and places their team’s resonators. This weakens the enemy while increasing the number of level-capped characters on your team. Also, those densely packed portals may not be worth much in terms of MU, but they are great places to farm equipment, because you get some equipment when you hack a portal, and you get more stuff at less cost when those portals are owned by your team. There are cities in my area known as well-leveled and protected farms for each team. (The main backbone of the local Resistance is a couple who is willing to head out and protect/reclaim their team’s farms on short notice.)

: Zubon

3 thoughts on “Individual and Group Rewards

  1. Kaluu

    Then too there are those guilds and groups in GW2 who stay in the open field, abstaining from taking objectives for individual or server rewards, preferring to play in a manner that provides them enjoyment. Open field combat, actual PvP, is viewed by them as more exciting and fun filled than knocking down the doors of towers or Pve’ing guards at supply camps. In my experience however, many of the most memorable battles have come once the gates of a tower are down and then the opponents arrive. The battle then commences inside the tower, on top of the tower, on stairs, walls, gangways, and around other obstructions, . A different flavor than combat in an open field and a lot of fun. But, ya have to take a lot of towers for the timing and matchup to occur just right. In a way a game of mindless drudgery interrupted by spurts of intense action.

    They say GW2 is not gear gated, meaning everyone can get the best gear without doing any special bosses or raids. But, that is not entirely true. The best gear requires a lot of gold and experience to afford all the materials that are needed. As you say, the individual and team rewards are in constant interaction and inextricably intertwined.

  2. Solf

    OT: there’s some bug somewhere. I’m following KTR via The Old Reader. When I click through from The Old Reader to this (and some other articles) on KTR, I get this link:
    http://www.killtenrats.com/2014/05/07/individual-and-group-rewards/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=individual-and-group-rewards

    The problem is that this link opens for me in some other ‘version’ of the site — possibly in mobile version. There’s link at the bottom ‘View Full Site’ which is:
    http://www.killtenrats.com/2014/05/07/individual-and-group-rewards/?ak_action=reject_mobile

    This doesn’t happen for all KTR posts, but it happens ‘often enough’. Please look into this if possible.

    1. Solf

      And now that I’ve posted comment, suddenly the first link leads to a proper page. Could this have to do with caching technology that confuses mobile/non-mobile stuff together?

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