I visited a local hamburger hut (got myself a chicken burger meal, cost 7.10 EUR) and spotted a leaflet about their bonus program. The leaflet was 6 pages long. The text was written with a small font. They tried to hint me, that if I buy loads of stuff from their place (but so that a one-time purchase is big enough), I might get some free food at some point. Maybe. It depends.
The reward program was a pretty complex. There were all sort of rules and systems which would get you to certain level, where you could reach platinum something to get 0.37 eur on something when you bought something somewhere sometimes. And, only if you buy certain amount of stuff.
I know that eventually it means that I might get some sort of discount, but I didn’t have a calculator at hand and I’ve only studied Math up until the University so I couldn’t solve the puzzle. Maybe the day when we all carry tiny supercomputers inside our DNA I might figure it out.
Anyway, compare this system with another reward system in a nearby pizza store: “buy 9 pizzas, get 10th for free”.
That’s really simple. No any complex mess. Just simple thing: buy 9 pizzas and the 10th pizza will be free. Simple, and clear. And rewarding.
So, in the case we want to reward some people (whether it’s giving them discounts or rewarding them in game), it’s a pretty good idea to tell them how the reward system works (or at least have some sense in it).
Just think of it: would you play a game where the aim is to get points, but you wouldn’t know how to score points, and the game would just give you a bloody long book that would explain how to get points?
I don’t suggest that you should reveal the player everything in your game… but if the player is clueless (or needs to read a several pages of text to realize how some simple thing should work) about how the basic rewards, then something is wrong. Or maybe it’s just me.