ALL customer loyalty programs revolve around making it a little bit easier for you to spend MORE money with them.
That is standard "customer appreciation".
I think you might have isolated the core problem right here!
The real world works on the real and established principles of businesses in the context of "customer appreciation"
MMO players work on the self-important and self-involved principle of me me me.... which roughly translates as the "hyperbolic appreciation syndrome".
Complaining about how much you did not get for free is an undeniably selfish attitude.
Interestingly enough.. this seems to be largely limited to internet tantrums. I don't recall ever seeing such meltdowns at the Customer Service counters of any of the major store chains where they do indeed typically reward customer loyalty with some form of credit/points useable only with that store (or a partnered store or business).
So apparently the rules of appreciation are different on internet gaming forums then in real life stores.