Sunday, May 29, 2011
Non-twitch will make you rich
World of Tanks continues to grow at a spectacular rate. Last night there were more "concurrent users" on the European server than EVE has on their world-wide server; WoT has American, Russian, and Chinese servers in addition to that, and only took 10 weeks to get that many players. The Chinese reported having made $2 million in the first 2 weeks, and the other servers are probably even more profitable. And that with a game which in spite of being called "World of" actually hasn't got any persistent world in it, and is not really a MMORPG. It is a tactical, team-based shooter with the ability to level up your tanks and crew.
But what makes World of Tanks different from most other games, MMORPG or otherwise, is that is works on a somewhat slower time-scale. A very fast gun takes 2 seconds to reload, a very slow one 20 seconds, and most guns somewhere in between. The speed with which you can turn your turret does not depend on the speed with which you can mouse-turn. In short: Sub-second reaction time and twitch skills aren't helping all that much in World of Tanks. Tactical thinking, and at a higher level strategic coordination with your team helps a lot more.
Being based on a different set of skills than other games attracts a different set of players. I just joined a clan and was surprised that while predominantly male like in every shooter, the average age was far higher. Lots of players are in their 40s, like me. World of Tanks is the one game in which a middle-aged guy isn't at a complete disadvantage against a teenager.
That different target audience has financial consequences. The middle-aged guy has a lot more disposable income than the teenager, and he long ago lost that youthful naivity about money somehow being an unfair advantage. The average revenue per user in a game full of middle-aged guys is significantly higher than in a game full of twitchy teenagers. It's like if you set up a showroom to sell cars: If that attracts only a lot of teenagers, your business is in trouble. The older customers might be a lot less visibly enthusiastic about your product, but they do have the moolah, and they aren't afraid to use it.
Video games have been around long enough that selling them to guys in their 40s isn't such a strange idea any more: They grew up with video games. But many developers haven't grasped the concept yet that an older audience might desire different features from a game than a younger one. Age not only slows down reflexes, it also makes you wiser about the "value" of virtual achievements. Time availability changes with age as well. But if a game takes all this into account, and is tailored to the needs of the middle-aged guy, it has the potential to be hugely profitable.