This is frustrating as hell. Today is Fortuitous Friday, the day I usually take off from gaming-related posts and wax lyrical.... or something like that anyway. I've been in a crap mood all week, however, so anything non-gaming related would be tainted with my bad mood. I've also been mulling over a post by Syncaine which is annoying the hell out of me.
I like Syncaine. His strong support of sandbox-type games and forthright posts have always been of interest to me. I'm not alone, obviously, as he is likely one of the most read bloggers in the 'o-sphere. My approval, or not, of him and his posts means very little. One of the areas we had previously parted ways on (I lol at that as it's not like we had a dialogue on it or anything, me being a blogging noob beneath this radar) was the 'Buy to win' format of World Of Tanks.
It was in the comment section of a post by Tobold (sorry, can't remember which one) some time ago where I pointed out that WoT wasn't really 'pay to win'. Other than gold bullets which aren't used very often, the payment structure is more like 'pay to get some convenience and save some time'. Syncaine's post yesterday changed the way in which I look at the game and I find that frustrating.
My frustration comes from the fact that I realize he is right about the pricing model, but I still have a lot of fun playing the game. I stopped playing Warhammer Online on principle- the game was stale and the customer service sucked. My dilema with World of Tanks is similar in that the company, despite doing some really nice things, and making some improvements, has made some changes in the past couple days that have left me feeling less than enthusiastic about the future.
I still don't see the game as 'pay to win' as the gold-bullet discussion doesn't interest me and premium tanks aren't "op" to the point where they are a sure win. I play 4 of them and my win-loss ratio isn't any better than other tanks in the same class. On that, Sycaine and I will disagree.
The point he makes which is correct, and has me brooding, is that the game is designed around it's payment model, and that model doesn't allow you to play the game as you choose. You are beholden to the payment model in that you are forced to buy premium (subs), or premium tanks, in order to play the higher tier tanks. It's a fact (as he says) that the higher tier tanks lose money on a loss, and often with a win- even if you are a premium-account holder. This is what really pisses me off. A paying customer (subscriber even, if you will) should never, ever lose money after winning a battle. Ever.
I understand they aren't a charity. They need to encourage free users to pay. I agree, and maintain a premium-account for about $9 per month. I've also bought a few premium tanks over the last year and have had fun playing them. The T-59 I bought because I was told it was a lot like the T-44/54 medium tanks and wanted to try them. I like the game-play of the T-59 (in-your-face-brawler) but a lot of people view using premiums as 'grinding' for credits. I did, of course, know the T-59 'made good credits' so that factored into my decision.....which bothers me.
I would happily pay $15 per month for this game, but that's not what the developers are after, and not how the game was designed. It is designed in the same way in which a Casino is designed: the house always wins. Why would they want $15 per month when they can get much more? While it is true that many users are free users and never pay a dime, it's not them the designers care about. The paying players are, quite literally, paying the way. My $15 per month (hypothetically) would have netted them $180 over the year since release. Add, say, $50 on top of that for the game (had they done this) and I'm in for $230. Instead I've pumped in around $370 and I know I'm at the mid-range of the average (daily) paying-player.
All's fair in love and gaming, though, and that's alright. Or it would be if Syncaine hadn't opened his big, blogging mouth. It does bother me that I can't play the game the way I want without paying extra, or, worse yet in my opinion, 'grinding'. I hate grinding anything in a game. The very world implies "this isn't fun" and it's not. I don't want to, nor should I have to, 'grind' with a premium tank to make credits to play other tanks at a loss: NOT when I pay for a premium account.
I enjoy the test-server a lot because of the fact I can quickly get to the top tiers, try a variety of tanks, and play the ones I like without worrying about making, or losing, credits. It's...oh my gosh, wait for it.....fun. Fun. The entire point of playing anything- or it should be. I want to worry about winning, or losing, killing, or being killed, not 'how much money will I lose this match'? The game is World of Tanks, after all, not World of Accountants. It's a game designed around a pricing model which ultimately holds the player back and that, as Syncaine has pointed out, is not good.