I will again say, for the record, that I have no problem with the company making money off their product. I have, and continue to put money into WoT with few regrets. I just wish it was slightly different or that more options existed and this week I will be answering some questions posed by Stormtrail who is also a fan of World of Tanks, and not afraid to call me on some of the crap I spew here :)
1) What pricing model would you prefer?
This is the question, isn't it? If I don't like what's on offer then what would I propose? I think free to play is a good idea because it gets players through the door. WoT is a player-vs-player game only. There is nothing else on offer so it is dependent on a sizable player population. Paying players don't care if the players they play with, and against, are paying or free. We just want them there. No players means no fun.
If the game was a traditional pay-to-play with a fee for the box I dread to think what the daily numbers would be, especially on the North American server where populations are very low compared to the EU and Russia. This could only hurt the game and with so many games starting in the 'traditional' pay-to-play mode and quickly dropping it to keep players (RIFT, Star Trek) it is apparent that this is the way to go for gaming success and/or survival.
There are a number of alternatives (additions really) to the current WoT pricing model I would be in favor of.
Lets face it- anything in the game can be bought (except, at the moment, wins as I maintain WoT is not pay-to-win.....gold ammo aside). Many players (Stormtrail included) are grinding away on the US line in anticipation of the changes which will give additional tanks, slots, and in this case, a premium tank (normally premium tanks can only be bought with real money in the form of gold so this is like a 'freebie'). I on the other hand am considering converting some of my 550,000 free experience to unlock the entire US heavy tree, buy the T34, and wait for it to go premium. I could also then skip the rest of my IS4 grind and unlock the IS7........... It would be costly, however, as I've not unlocked a lot of US heavies (I figure $80) so it isn't likely I'll do it even though there is some debate on weather or not the tank will actually be for sale in the store later. (I'd rather just drop $30 on it if it turns out to be good to be honest).
My point is that I can buy any tank I like with free experience, so why not have downloadable content for cash? The content, in this case, would be tanks. I could buy the "IS7 package" or the "Russian Heavy Package" which would save me the time of playing through some tanks I don't like (sorry everyone I don't like the IS4 yet even though that makes me a freak because its THE BEST TANK EVER, or so I'm told). I'm also dying to try the Maus, but who has the time to grind through all those other tanks (many that I'm not remotely interested in playing). The option is already there in the form of 'free experience' so why hide the fact I can buy tanks? In fact, it would save me the time of buying gold, then converting the free experience, and then unlocking the tank, and then buying the tank, and.... you get the idea.
Additional money making ideas (if you use any of these WoT, my fee is free gold for life and/or a moderator position) could include downloadable content in the form of cool skins, decals for your tank, garages, etc. People love that, and most of its available in game anyway.
One of the potential arguments is that if this were available people could jump into top-end tanks immediately and cause havok in the game with their 'noobness'. So what? Lots of top-tier players aren't very good and currently anyone can buy a Lowe and grind out the free experience and convert it to buy the top tank they want. Another problem is that the lower tiers may become ghost towns as 'everyone' plays the top tiers. I personally don't think this would happen as the top tier tanks are too expensive to use exclusively even with a premium account. This is another one of my pet-peeves which which leads me into some of my other ideas for pricing/gaming alternatives which I'll talk about this week. Among them are:
- Extra Premium- a two-tier pricing model for premium accounts.
- Faction Rewards/Faction Battles- allegiance to the country of your choice yields perks and rewards.
I will also be revisiting the credit system which is a common complaint on the forums and in chat. This is an essential component of the game and one that I think they've got wrong. I've argued this point before, but I don't think any customer should be limited in their game-play options once they've paid. It's bad business and one that I know is pretty pervasive in the MMO community (seen in the 'grind' players are put through to reach a goal). It turns the 'grind' into the focal point of the game, and the game-objectives into a side show.... but more on all this tomorrow!