I am coming from Dragon Blood, a very much p2w game. I've seen them evolve and how/why they aren't what they used to be. Most of my gaming experience comes from actual PC MMOs dating back to before Ultima Online.
VIP Levels & Incentives
We all know you are a company trying to make a profit. That's totally cool; we all have to eat and afford our hobbies. One of the largest issues I've seen with games like this (and there are hundreds to choose from right now) is the f2p player feeling outclassed because he/she is poor or simply doesn't want to spend money on a game. In games like this you can relate the VIP levels to your levels in society. Poor, lower-class, middle-class and upper-class. Early on the lines that define these classes are relatively small. The longer you play, the more definitive these lines become. I think there should be a way for the 'poor' class to move up without spending money. So here is my suggestion;
Loyalty Program (or call it what you wish)...
Let's face it, it doesn't cost much money to purchase VIP 1 or 2. The Sanctuary is what I will use for my example here. Every day a Poor player must complete the Sanctuary; 160 points I believe? Every day they complete the Sanctuary they receive 1 loyalty point. They can trade these points in for a temporary VIP badge that grants them all the benefits of VIP 1 for the day. The can choose to use these points every day, save them to use for a few days to try and get a small boost or whatever the case may be. Players can trade in 30 badges for permanent VIP 1 status. This means a player would have to play for at least a full month to get VIP 1. The same thing happens at VIP 1. A player now gets 2 points every time they complete a Sanctuary. 60 points total to earn VIP 2 permanently. And VIP 2 is the cutoff for free benefits.
Please take a moment to think about this and the implications it has on the progression of paying players. You give a player a small taste of VIP and guess what? He would be more likely to spend that couple bucks to get his VIP 1 so he doesn't have to worry that he must complete the sanctuary every day. Same thing applies when said player reaches VIP 1 and gets a taste of VIP 2. The company wouldn't see that much of difference in purchases and you give players something to play for that's actually worth real life money (in a sense). There would be no need to offer players anything who already purchased VIP because they've already gotten the rewards and I think it's safe to say those players wouldn't have waited 30 and 60 days, respectively, to get their VIP status.
To be continued with more... adulting sucks sometimes =D