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Wargaming focuses on "free-to-win"

Wargaming focuses on "free-to-win"

Tue 04 Jun 2013 8:25am GMT / 4:25am EDT / 1:25am PDT
PublishingFinancial

World Of Tanks creator removes paid advantages from all games

Wargaming is evolving its free-to-play model for all the games in its portfolio, making them "free-to-win" by preventing players from buying in-game advantages.

"Wargaming is a company delivering free-to-play online games, and we strongly believe that you can't provide a truly triple-A free-to-play experience without absolutely making sure all combat options are free of charge to all players," Andrei Yarantsau, VP of publishing told Gamasutra.

"We don't want to nickel and dime our players -- we want to deliver gaming experiences and services that are based on the fair treatment of our players, whether they spend money in-game or not."

The important part of the new strategy is that there'll be no way for players to buy an advantage over others, no better guns or upgrades that could affect their performance on the battlefield. Instead they can spend their money on customisation options and better vehicles, items that won't have an affect on their chances of victory.

Wargaming has been testing free-to-win since last year, and does not foresee a negative impact on its revenue as a result of the changes.

"The free-to-win concept is sure to enhance customer loyalty and attract new players to the game. As for the company's economic efficiency, we expect no decline in profits," Yarantsau continued.

"If anything, the introduction of our free-to-win features will likely cause a decrease in the purchase of premium ammunition. At the same time, however, players will use gold to buy credits, pay for premium account status, or purchase premium vehicles. In the end we project that it will all balance out."

The move will also help Wargaming's move into the eSports arena, which Yarantsau called an "integral" part of the company's marketing strategy. It currently has a Wargaming.net League.

"We don't want World of Tanks players to feel like it's an experience that only a select few can afford. Quite contrary, we want the game to embody accessibility and fairness to all players, paying or not."

15 Comments

Andy Butcher
Game Designer

4 1 0.3
Do they say specifically what they'll be changing in WoT? The article talks about 'preventing players from buying in-game advantages', but then later they reference premium ammo in a way that implies it'll still be available to buy...

Posted:10 months ago

#1
Gold Ammo, Gold Tanks, that's all I can really think of.

(that said, I'd pay (more) money to not get certain maps!)

Posted:10 months ago

#2

Bruce Everiss
Marketing Consultant

1,716 598 0.3
FTP is evolving very quickly and WoT has been at the forefront of this.
Pay to win is very cynical and is a no no.
Buying levels is very limited in its income potential. As are vanity items.
But we have to pay the bills.
The best route is to provide the player with quality emotional engagement, so they want to pay to enhance that engagement.
And the mechanism for that is time saving, in one or more of its many forms. Such as rationing the number of goes in a given time period with extra goes available for money.

Posted:10 months ago

#3

Christian Murphy
Games Programmer / Designer

11 17 1.5
Popular Comment
Such as rationing the number of goes in a given time period with extra goes available for money.
No, these practices are horrible and anti-consumer. Stop perpetuating bad ideas.

Posted:10 months ago

#4

Paul Johnson
Managing Director / Lead code monkey

787 931 1.2
Popular Comment
The trouble with "Pay to win" is that it has become a meme and any idiot seems to spout it as if to earn a merit badge, usually not based on the actuality. (Which is that every game is pay to win. You wanna win at CoD ? Pay 60 bucks and you can! :) )

I personally hate this idea of putting timers on things. Whether or not it works, there has to be a better way. It's directly and deliberately stopping someone from playing right now, and that can't be good for either side. It's a crutch and I uninstall anything the moment I become aware of it.

I much prefer game-expanding transactions. If some become pay to win then that should go back to the designers for rebalancing. "Pay for more choices" is how we're handling FTP in future, starting with Combat Monsters.

Posted:10 months ago

#5

Spike Laurie
International Digital Games Coordinator

13 14 1.1
Such as rationing the number of goes in a given time period with extra goes available for money.
And you've completely missed the point. As usual.

Posted:10 months ago

#6

Andrew Clayton
QA Weapons Tester

150 7 0.0
Such as rationing the number of goes in a given time period with extra goes available for money.
Dragon Age: Legends had this type of a system. I wanted to play the game more, but was unable to do so without spending money. I enjoyed the game, but couldn't build up any real loyalty to it. When the developers broke the gold system and made it impossible to actually play the game without buying more gold, my lack of loyalty made my transition away from DA:L very simple. Despite my time and effort (and money) invested in the game, I never had an attachment to my character or my friends.

When I found out that dev support for the game was removed but a free downloadable version without any of the previous caps, I immediately downloaded it. I still loved the game (and it definitely helped that I could use my old character). Without the constraints of "crowns" (a real-money substitute) and "stamina" (the same turn-restraint system you're advocating), I played the game much more. If DA:L included cosmetic changes that I could purchase, I would be much more likely to do so now that I can play the game when I want without feeling like I am being restricted from the full potential of my time.

If that bit of anecdotal evidence still hasn't convinced you, consider that there are plenty of days when I have lots of free time and would love to play a game for hours (which I was unable to do with the DA:L "stamina" system), and plenty of days where I was too busy to play. On the busy days, I felt like my game time was wasted. On the free days, I felt like my game time was underutilized. Again, this bred an inherent disloyalty to the game, since there were plenty of other alternatives that I could be playing while waiting for my stamina to refresh.

Posted:10 months ago

#7

Curt Sampson
Sofware Developer

564 278 0.5
Andy, premium ammo has been available for credits (earned through playing) for almost six months now; no gold (available for cash) is required.

As an avid player of WoT, I'd be really curious to hear what further changes they'll be introducing. They've already made most of the premium account benefits, short of the 1.5x XP and credit earnings bonuses, available to non-premium players, and I believe that everything you can buy in-game is now available for credits except for premium tanks, the ability to demount and re-use (rather than sell or destroy) modules, and the ability to do avoid losing certain bits of crew training when retraining them.

From what I can tell, the biggest thing that's still "pay to win" is the ability to buy credits with gold or cash. To a lesser degree, the ability to grind credits faster with premium accounts and premium tanks is pay-to-win. In both cases, there's nothing you can buy that you can't also buy by putting in more time on the game, but overall you're going to get to the point where you have a better than average tank a lot faster, and so your overall win rate will be higher.

I don't know if they consider that spending money gives you a higher win rate to be "pay to win" or not.

Oh, and in a game like WoT, limiting the number of battles per day would be utter foolishness. To be enjoyable the game needs a large population playing; smaller populations lead to longer queue times for battles, less balanced battles, and so on. Even the free players, perhaps especially the free players, are doing WG a big favour by playing the game.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Curt Sampson on 4th June 2013 11:29pm

Posted:10 months ago

#8

Andy Butcher
Game Designer

4 1 0.3
D'oh - I had no idea you could buy premium ammo for credits now. Thanks for clearing that up, Curt.

(I tend to go through phases with WoT - I play for a few weeks every now and then, and it's been a while since my last 'phase'...)

Posted:10 months ago

#9

Eric Schittulli
European Customer Support Manager

8 3 0.4
I wish them success but nobody managed to hold this kind of business model without a huge profit loss.

Here is a slideshare from EA/Easy how they tried very hard to be fair on the players and not giving any in-game advantage through the item mall and....failed. They also show that there is a huge difference between what the players are claiming to want and their behavior.

Very interesting slideshare presentation, unusually open to public : http://fr.slideshare.net/bcousins/paying-to-win

On a side note, it is very funny to see people stating things like "they are on top of things" and "they are pioneers". Nice PR coup from WG. But actually, they just go back to the way westerners were doing free to play business 5-7 years ago before learning from Asia. Nothing new there.

What would be new is to see them succeeding where everyone who tried the same fumbled.

Looking forward to the follow up.

Edited 4 times. Last edit by Eric Schittulli on 5th June 2013 12:26pm

Posted:10 months ago

#10

Andy Butcher
Game Designer

4 1 0.3
I wish them success but nobody managed to hold this kind of business model without a huge profit loss.
League of Legends? :)

Posted:10 months ago

#11

Eric Schittulli
European Customer Support Manager

8 3 0.4
Not really but it's true that LoL gets closer to this model. But it's not entirely focusing on vanity items.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Eric Schittulli on 5th June 2013 1:57pm

Posted:10 months ago

#12

Tom Pickard
Lead Environment Artist - Campaign Map

308 382 1.2
The game is "free to win", the key is the annotations around free to win... You can win without paying, by playing thousands of matches and gradually crawling towards higher tiers etc. and getting enough money together.. But you can only play the game properly if you invest in the premium account and premium vehicles, which get massive boosts to crew training, expereince and currency earned.. Otherwise your stuck with untrained crews for months grinding, and only earning enough money to play with good tanks once every 5-10 games for the repair costs.. So yeah.. It's free to win.. But there are massive massive reasons why you would be disadvantaged (and rightly so, otherwise they'd never earn money) But this is all just marketing spiel... simple fact is you need premium stuff to play the game properly and no ammount of grinding makes premium tanks available.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Tom Pickard on 5th June 2013 2:55pm

Posted:10 months ago

#13

Michael Gunter
Monster Hunter

16 5 0.3
The T34, which originally sat as the Tier 9 american heavy tank, was announced to be replaced by the (most excellent) M103 in roughly a months time (when it was originally announced that this change was happening a while back). They told players that if they had the T34 in their garage, they would get it replaced by the M103 for free and keep their T34 (in a new free tank slot) as a Tier 8 premium vehicle, and they delivered on that promise. I refuse to buy "gold" tanks, not because they're unbalanced in any way (they're actually worse than their tier and type equivalents), but because I enjoy playing in the tanks I earned.
But you can only play the game properly if you invest in the premium account and premium vehicles
Absolutely untrue. Case and point, my friend plays nearly exclusively in his M24 Chaffee, a Tier 5 light tank that has end game scouting capabilities and brutal repair costs. He also has never paid a dime to WG or had premium account status (aside from the freebies WG gives out now and then), but he still manages to MAKE money in his Chaffee and maintain a 66% win rate. In addition to the Chaffee (which ended up being his favorite to play) he also has several other end-game tanks with the T110E5 (T10 Heavy), Patton III (T10 Medium), and T92 (T8 arty). He's never needed to play in other tanks to earn credits to be able to play in those tanks. He doesn't necessarily EARN credits, but if he is ever strapped for repair bills, it takes one match in a Tier 5 tank to earn the credits he needs. True, he may need to play his T5s a bit more to earn the initial credits to buy the tanks, but even those matches are fun.

Wargaming has been more than fair to their user base and good on them for nerfing the gold shells, it was a long time coming!
simple fact is you need premium stuff to play the game properly and no ammount of grinding makes premium tanks available
Simply untrue.

Posted:10 months ago

#14

Andy Butcher
Game Designer

4 1 0.3
My point wasn't that LoL focuses entirely on vanity, but that it has no 'pay to win' elements at all. Sorry if I was unclear.

Posted:10 months ago

#15

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