Tuesday, March 20, 2012

World Of Tanks: $10 Million Per Month and Still With The Hand Out

In a recent article the head of Wargaming.net has said that the income for World of Tanks is in the 'low-end double digit millions' per month. Coming on the heals of an in-game income nerf it feels a lot like a kick in the teeth. Now that the numbers are published on which tanks are getting affected (and by how much) I think we can see why they are being implemented. The income changes are obviously geared toward getting players to pay even sooner by making the popular mid-tiers even less profitable (with in game currency).

To say that I'm not happy would be really, really understating it- and I'm a paying customer so all you posters on the forums telling the 'free players' to wake up, nothing's for free, and to pay for the product can get bent. Wargaming.net doesn't have to convince me to pay to play because I already am. The credit nerfs hit the majority of tanks that I like to pay play which include: KV-13, E8, E2, Panther II, Object 704, and my yet to get Chaffee, T-44 and Pershing.

The forums are on fire in the EU and I can't help but note the official US thread on the Economy Preview is locked. Hmmm..okay. Fuck you too, I guess.

There are a couple real problems that are going to arise from this latest, cash-inspired move. In that interview Wargaming.net stated they have one of the highest player pay rates of any free game with 40% of players paying. Combined with the actual money (10 million minimum) rolling in, it makes me wonder what the hell they are after. This game offers nothing but lobby battles which means the players themselves are the content. There are no mobs to grind, no quests to complete (thank god). Less players is the death knell to a game like this. A paying player doesn't know, or care, if the guy next to him or before him, is paying or free. As long as he's there it's all good fun. If the latest moves drives away free players who can't 'afford' to play the game then you risk the paying customers also leaving.

That said, the other problem is that they are also pissing off paying customers like myself. Forum threads are always full of 'I quit' posts, but the reality is that some of them are actually quitting. Paying customers are leaving. That's not good for anyone.

The game balance is going to shift dramatically as well. The lower tier tanks are getting a massive boost so they will be heavily populated. I was thinking, perhaps, that if there were more people playing tier 1-4 and 9-10 then maybe the matchmaker would balance out....somehow.....with tier 5-6's being at the top more rather than fodder for the 7-8's. Maybe, maybe not, but as we've been saying for a year now, the best way to balance the matchmaker is to...well, balance the mathmaker through, oh, I don't know...say.....computer progamming? Just an idea. Crazy I know, but.....

The income nerf, made worse by also increasing repair costs at the same time, on medium tanks and tank destroyers will also shift the game balance. The motivation to play these tanks, which can be a lot of work compared to the Heavies, takes a beating. Playing a tank destroyer can be soul crushing as you are so dependent on your team due to your (generall) lack of mobility and diversity. Medium tanks require a degree of skill that, at the least, is different from heavies. I find my brain often hurting after a run on my mediums whereas with my IS4 heavy tank, well, let's just say there is a technique to using it, but it's generally a bit easier on the brain.

More light tanks (income increased on many light tanks tiers 1-5 except the one I really wanted, of course) and more heavies means what exaclty? I don't know. Faster games? Easier games? Time will tell.

In the meantime what is a paying player to do? A lot of the tanks I like to play, for fun, are getting nerfed. A lot of the tanks I was 'grinding' to or interested in playing are getting nerfed. Premium tanks that I've already bought (Ram II, Mini-Maus, Tetrarch, T-127) are getting a boost while the other premium tanks I own (T59, B2) are self sustaining. The lower tier tanks that I like (SU-26, KV, T50, Hummel) are all getting a boost in income. That means, quite simply, that I can stop paying and not worry about credits any more- as long as I give up on the top-tier tanks, and right now, that sounds fine. Even as a monthly premium customer I find the top-tier grind for experience and credits frustrating and now it's going to get worse?

I can only assume this is going to be followed by some new pay-to-play options. Super premium, or making individual tanks premium (on a monthly basis), or something like that. Each patch is taking this game in a new direction and that direction seems to be the already sizeable bank account of the developer. As the only tank game in town they are pushing their luck and banking on the fact their new game will be out soon. It's the old 'bait and switch' where they rely on the new game drawing attention away from the old. And both will make them millions.

For next month, though, they will be short my $10 as I drop to free to play. Well played Wargaming. Well played.

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