I was thinking about the mechanics and systems that I do not enjoy or approve of in WoW, and it struck me that a large percentage of them share the same characteristic of being extrinsic rewards.
These include mechanics like crafting profession perks, or guild perks, or valor points. Basically rewards where you stop doing the underlying activity for its own sake and instead are doing it solely for the sake of this extra reward.
Crafting used to be about making stuff. Or about gathering resources to sell. I used to have Mining, and I rather enjoyed it. But now crafting is all about the character perks which add power to your character.
This is in contrast to Fishing, for example. I rather like Fishing, even if it isn't the most challenging activity in the game. The point of Fishing is to get fish, which you turn into Feasts via cooking. This chain makes sense to me, the rewards are inherent in the profession.
Before Cataclysm, guild used to be about joining friends or social groups, or banding together to accomplish a goal. Now it's about getting random rewards from being in a guild, most of which have nothing to do with the guild itself.
I've discussed Valor Points before. I'm not a fan of running old content over and over again just to get VP.
All these perks and systems share the same characteristic of giving extra rewards to entice people to do these activities. And yet all these perks and systems have warped the game, in my opinion, and made it less fun.
The only extrinsic reward system that has really worked, in my opinion, is reputation. I'm not really sure why reputation works. Maybe because it is a side-effect of questing and dungeon running, and never really moves into the point where you are doing quests and dungeons solely for reputation.
And even then, reputation used to be a lot less fun before the tabard system. Even Therezane and Hodir reputation are not the funnest parts of the game, but you do it because you have to have the extrinsic rewards of shoulder enchants.
I think extrinsic rewards are bad for the game. If an activity cannot be made inherently fun or useful, then maybe it's better to let the players ignore it until it can be improved.
Take archeology, for example. Some players like archeology and have collected everything. Some players ignore it. I would absolutely hate for Blizzard to decide that not enough players are doing archeology and tack on a perk that gives you a stat bonus for hitting 450 archeology.
Personally, I would be quite happy to see profession perks, guild perks, and valor points and most other extrinsic rewards stripped from the game.