Sony's PlayStation Rewards loyalty program has been in a beta phase for the past few months and was due to be opened up to all PlayStation 3 owners in a few days time, but something about the limited availability period has soured Sony on the idea for now, as the company has announced it will end the Rewards program effective March 31. Here's the e-mail that went out to all current Rewards participants in which they explain how maybe this whole loyalty program thing isn't ready for prime time yet:
We wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for your participation in the PlayStation®Rewards Beta, which is ending on March 31st. Your feedback helped us understand the kinds of things that make you feel appreciated and valued.
Based on what we learned, we have decided the program is not ready to roll out to the public in April as originally planned. But rest assured, we will continue to thank loyal and devoted customers like you with innovative offerings.
All is not lost though, as Sony will be sending out special PlayStation t-shirts to everyone who leveled up at least once during the beta phase (that is, achieved Select, Pro, or Legendary status). Real t-shirts, too, and not PlayStation Home clothes. Yes, a real tangible object. I think that's the greatest thank-you of all to come out of the program. I do hope that the Rewards program returns sometime, as it was a fun little program that doled out minor virtual rewards for just doing one's usual PlayStation activities. Exactly why the company feels the program isn't ready for the general public is up for grabs, but if I had to guess, I'd say that most people want real objects instead of avatars or Home clothes, and since producing and shipping physical goods costs much more money than sending out online vouchers, the Rewards program that most people would want is not financially feasible at this time. I can't prove that though. It's just my educated guess as a valued Select member (which is a status of membership that will apparently one day have the same cachet as owning a Members Only jacket).