More specifically, today's concepts are more about tackling the very principle that progress has to be tied past a certain point to things that you get. You earn a thing and then you're better. But there's no reason that progress can't be oriented the other way, with the gear (etc.) just being a gating mechanism for your actual forward motion.
The funny part is that a lot of these systems aren't really at odds with one another; they can coexist without too much trouble. But then, that's the nature of the beast.