Hello everyone, today, I am going to write something about one specific aspect of World of Tanks (or any “World of” Wargaming product really) – the Free to Play (F2P) business model. Looking at the forums (well, okay, specifically the Czech ones, but the same thing comes up everywhere on occasion), I see a lot of confusion about the “free” part. People do complain that Wargaming shouldn’t charge as much for this and that and that should be for free too and whatnot. Wargaming is not a charity. It’s a business corporation and it does not exist to entertain anyone, despite how much various Wargaming representatives talk about bringing joy and doing what they do with love and whatnot. It exists to make money. Noone invests millions of dollars in something, that doesn’t bring profit – and so, Wargaming has to charge for something. And that something always brings pay-to-win element into the game – the question is not IF, the question is HOW MUCH. First, there is this nice little video by Extra Credits again – if you have time, go ahead and watch it (you can skip it, I’ll be describing the effect in the article, but they do it better): * * Alright. So, what we have here is the free-to-play model of Wargaming, which they call “free-to-win” or something. In the video, it is cited as one of the good examples of free-to-play monetization and I actually agree. It’s a very delicate balance. You have two aspects of the game, that have to be in equillibrium: - the ability of the developer to make money off the game - the ability to play for free with it still being fun Now, make no mistake. You will always have some pay to win elements, no matter what the developer says and how they argues. What matters is their intensity of course. Sure, you might argue that for example selling “hats” (Team Fortress) might not have any P2W element, but is that really true? Imagine a theoretical situation that you have a soldier and you buy a cosmetic thing, like a hat. The old hat was let’s say red, your new hat is a green helmet. A cosmetic change, giving you no bonuses whatsoever. And yet, a situation can occur, when you use that cosmetic hat on a map, that has some sort of green-ish background and that hat makes your character spotted a split second later. That is an advantage – a microscopic one, but it is. It can work in any way imaginable – for example, imagine there is a red (brick) wall and your hat is red too. Same situation. It’s just a theory, but if such a case occurs in one case from one million battles, it is STILL a tiny little advantage you bought. As I wrote above: it’s not a question of “if”, but “how much”. In World of Tanks, it’s basically three things, that carry some noticeable P2W elements: - gold ammunition - gold consumables - some premium tanks The first two are pretty straightforward. You buy gold for real life money and you now have ammunition, that’s simply better in everything (usually, there are notable exceptions, such as 105mm HESH). Wargaming argues of course that you don’t have to buy anything, it’s enough that you grind, because you can buy it for credits. That is true of course, but the definition of pay to win is pretty much “buying an ingame advantage for money” – and that’s exactly what you do with the gold ammunition. On higher tiers, it gets so expensive that without some serious grinding (which, in turn, is impossible for “daddies”, who play 3-4 battles per evening when they have time), you can’t use it constantly. You CAN buy an advantage (in extreme cases, a serious one), but, with that being said, gold ammo is actually pretty well balanced, it’s expensive enough for people not to spam (that is why it is so important to watch the ingame economy, too much credit/gold missions or other methods of gaining and too few sinks mean that battles would soon become infested with gold ammunition, which would spoil fun for casuals who do not want to pay and would lower Wargaming profits) and it’s not blatantly overpowered. There were cases when gold ammunition was very much OP (remember the pre-nerf 105mm HEAT on tier 5 with 150mm penetration?), but those were fixed. Equally, using too much gold ammunition on one vehicle will lead to its nerf (see the FV215b (183) recent nerf). Gold consumables – same thing as with gold ammo, just less pronounced. Personally, I think that unless you need an absolute edge (clanwars, tournaments etc.) or have just tons of credits/gold to waste, it’s sort of pointless to buy them. Premium tanks – well, here’s probably the nastiest part. Normally, you could say “but Silentstalker, premium tanks are even weaker than normal tanks, let alone overpowered!” – and yes, that much is true, usually, but there are some cases when this principle was not kept. Most notable ones are: Type 59 – when it was introduced, it was blatantly overpowered and you might remember the 15 Type vs 15 Type battles. It was a hard lesson for Wargaming, one that luckily never repeated itself. E-25 – according to server statistics (EU, RU), this tank is borderline overpowered, both when looking at its winrate and when looking at the corellation between player winrate and general tank winrate. Especially in more advanced player’s hands (from 50 percent winrate onwards) the tank has very good statistics, it’s being watched closely. LeFH B2 – the French artillery, that was removed from the premium shop some time ago, but it is still obtainable via various events or in premium shop packages. Looking at statistics for EU server, this tank is blatantly overpowered (55 percent average winrate) – this was caused by the fact that during the Great Arty Nerf in 8.6 or so, it was not hit as hard as other tanks. Panzer IIJ – currently, this is the most overpowered tank in the game due to its (for its tier) insane armor (or, rather, a combination of factors). It has around 67 percent average winrate. If it wasn’t so extremely rare (the only way to get it on EU or US server was either by buying Russian gift edition – which is not possible anymore – or by winning it at some events like Gamescom) it would be likely nerfed to the ground. But, I know some players who paid a lot of money for it and do have very, very high winrate Continue reading →

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