You don't need to explain me how this stuff works and of course when I say it's bad it is a personal opinion.People spend millions of dollars experimenting and researching these topics across a broad spectrum of media platforms. I could show you a bunch of studies that show how this increases player retention. Sure you may not like it - but calling it 'bad' is clearly a massive personal over-simplification.
People won't play skirmish or captain even if Tw offer them badges and skins, if they do not like that. I would argue that majority of playerbase doesn't care rat's ass about skins or badges. Look at Siege and TDM. People have hundreds or thousands of hours without even touching "ranked" modes. Those gimmicks only serve the tiny minority which will fade away once custom servers come and provide actual content. Class system rework will be one of the first mods that will come and who wants to grind skins when you can have fun.You want more players in MP - this is guaranteed and proven to help that. Not arguing about the rest of the game... just this is as normal as having a main menu. How many of us played 100's of hours of Skirmish games in the beta's to get the damned badges?
Progression = Ranked.
Ranked = Restricted Rules
Restricted Rules = Official Servers
As simple as that I am afraid. If I can setup a custom siege server which only lasts 5 seconds per round and win 500 games of defender siege within an hour; what is the point in tracking that information?
If I want to grind I'd rather grind Bannerlord Online than Taleworlds pointless skins.
But that's my take on it. I understand where you are coming from and you are not wrong. But why would people stay with with this game if it's like all others games out there and way better implemented.