Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
World of Tanks reaches "3 million players"

My apologies for the flood of posts, but somehow there are a lot of news this week. The game I am currently playing the most is World of Tanks, and they just announced "3 million players". Of course that number means absolutely nothing. The one thing the raving WoW-haters out there are good for is to constantly remind us that "a million players" means very little without looking at how much money each of these players pays. In the case of World of Tanks there are thus two major caveats: Only 1 million of these players are on European and North American servers, and of course WoT is Free2Play, thus the large majority of players pays absolutely nothing.

On the other hand the 3 million number actually appears to be underreported, as the other 2 million are said to be on "Russian servers". That leaves out the Chinese, where World of Tanks is distributed by KongZhong. And as luck will have it, KongZhong just published their Q1 2011 results, attributing a 53.3% increase of revenue to $6.3 million of the Internet Games business to "the strong initial performance of WoT or World of Tanks, which was launched commercially on March 15th." If a release mid-March can increase revenue for the whole quarter by two millions, and that in China, we can be pretty sure that World of Tanks is overall quite profitable.

And that isn't a surprise to people who play World of Tanks: WoT is an excellent game, the balance between what you can play for free and what you can get for paying is well done, and it is one of the most balanced and fairest PvP games I've ever seen. That is not to say that it can't be frustrating to end up with the weakest tank on the battlefield, with your shots bouncing off the armor of much heavier tanks. But you still get some experience points if your side loses horribly, and in the next battle you might be the strongest tank. Yesterday I played my tier V tank destroyer in two battles in series, losing horribly the first battle, and then having an incredible 7-kill win streak in the second. Getting 7 kills in a 15 vs. 15 battle means you killed nearly as many tanks as your 14 team mates together!

Not only does World of Tanks have those ups and downs, preventing you from becoming frustrated from permanently losing. It also offers weaker tanks in a battle the opportunity to do something useful, like "lighting up" the enemy for your artillery, and rewards you for these other activities. Yes, its hard to kill a heavier tank of a higher tier, but if you do you get a lot more xp than if you are in the bigger tank one-shotting the weaker ones.

One interesting development to further improve balance and fun for the more casual players is that is working on a Clan Wars feature where powerful clans battle over a map of Europe. This removes the most powerful and organized players from the random battles, thus keeping them more balanced for the lesser mortals. Of course the downside of that is that if you don't have a very high tier tank, and strong committment, and are willing to install voice chat, you won't get an invite to a clan partipating in that Clan Wars. On the other hand that might just be as well, as the average player with a medium tier tank wouldn't last seconds in a hardcore clan battle.

So even as a not-so-hardcore player I am currently having a lot of fun in World of Tanks. There is a "double xp for your first victory" feature for every tank which helps people like me who rather play lots of different tanks with different roles instead of heading straight for the highest tier of a single tank type. And with the patches adding new maps and new tanks, I'm not yet growing bored of the game. Of course the combat being a lot more interesting than that of a MMORPG helps a lot here. So count me in among those "3 million players", and even among the minority who actually gives money to
What is your world of tanks player name? I just reached tier 5 mediums myself and would love to play a few matches and share thoughts on the game.
Have you thought about trying League of Legends - it's a free to play PvP game and my experience with it seems very much like yours with WoT - good balance between the paying and the free players, loosing one game and then carrying the team in the next one etc.
3 million registrations. As you say, meaningless.
On the US servers, I typically see about 5000 people online at 5:30 in the morning (Eastern time) and about 15,000 online during prime time. What are you seeing on the European servers?
As much as malign the matchmaking system in game for some awful choices, I still have to remain relatively impressed. Across all my tanks, in a total of 300 something battles...I am still running a 52% winning percentage. I am sad it is so low, but the fact remains that no matter how frustrated I get with the game I am still winning over half the matches I face!

I don't have any legs to stand on as far as balanced PvP goes at least. They have truly made something where I lose a little less often than I win...

I hope to see that grow as I improve too, but who knows. If I shrinks I may stop advancing the way I am and settle with older tanks.
I like that you like WoT. Even though you bashed pvp and action oriented gameplay a lot , so I was in conundrum what kind of gameplay (besides loot pinata farming) would be attractive to older, twitch averse players.

3 million registrations. As you say, meaningless.

YOu can spin it the way you want but russian servers have over 100k+ players online at peak. That is way more than eve (60k peak with 400kish sub base) , and while certainly not all of them pay it is active accounts

Add to that 20k player (~200k accts) in EU and 10k in US ( ~80k) and I bet they do have 3mill active accounts easily
I agree - WoT is a great game. I'm in a similar position where I'm pretty bad at PvP and don't often like twitch shooters, but I think WoT is great for a player like me. TD's and Arty rely more on superior positioning and strong team tactics to be effective, so it doesn't matter as much that I'm pretty bad in a dogfight.

I also love how well they support each of the team's roles. Light scout tanks, for example, have a higher chance of dying early, since they're wandering around unsupported trying to find the biggest tanks on the field (so the artillery can blow them to shreds). Not only do scout tanks get extra points for scouting, however, but if they do die early they can exit the battle and immediately start a new game in a different tank without having to stick around for the rest of the fight.
I've been playing WoT as well, lately. I must say that I'm a lot less impressed than you. After the "novelty" factor drops off, it's really just like a slower version of WoW BGs, with the advantage that you can drop out and join another in a different role immediately.

My winning % has been oscillating between 46% and 52%, and I think it's completely independent on my skill level, but a lot more on the gear level of the group I find myself in. Particular things I'm liking less and less:
- as in WoW: gear helps a lot. Un-upgraded tanks with 50% crew are a joke, prepare to die a lot. Reading the forums people seem completely unaware of this... maybe the people posting are all premium and don't see the problem.
- team play is non-existent: the player communication interface is horrible and it discourages chatting with your team. They could be bots and I would not notice (apart from the exception I indicate below for artillery).
- light tanks: beyond tier 2, frankly, don't bother. Unless you like the "rush to enemy camp and die in 5 seconds" exping approach.
- artillery is fine if you like sniping, are ready to have your performance completely dependent on your team, and don't bother getting insulted (artillery is not very precise, so it's possible to miss a lot of shots in a row, something other people seem not to know).
- med/heavy: the exp grinding is as the tank name: it gets heavier fast.

The "pay" part does not seem very balanced: the pay-only shells are definitely not an insignificant improvement: the damage is the same but the penetration is way higher (so it's easier to damage people). Crew experience is awfully slow, equipment is very expensive. I extrapolate that if you want to go to higher tiers, be ready to shell out some serious cash.

What is good is that you can log in, press "battle", shoot stuff for 5 mins and go away, no long-term committment. Also, since the "social" experience is non-existing, dumping a game if things start to go downhill seems to be standard practice. Your team getting killed? Do the suicide scout run and exit battle, even in the remote case they win, you'll get the exp and credits.
What are you seeing on the European servers?

Right now, 6 pm, still a bit before prime time, 25,000 players on the European servers.
Crew experience is awfully slow, equipment is very expensive. I extrapolate that if you want to go to higher tiers, be ready to shell out some serious cash.

Gold definitely makes it for easier and more enjoyable game. But just FYI I grinded tier 8 medium and tier 7 heavy all without premium in beta in under a month

So far only thing I spent on game is 2 month of premium accounts and about 200 gold worth of shells and repair kits for tournament play (my team did get into semis)
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Gevlon is posting fake Tobold comments again.
Haven't tried this one yet, but I can't help thinking the game would ultimately become very grindy and repetitive - is it a game best played in short bursts? Asking here because I'm yet to find a decent review of it!
WoT is a nice, LoL-lite game. Since it's heavily gear based (x tank > y tank) and the matching is somewhat random, it removes much of the dependance on player skill from the equation. This means that average players will do alright, and not have some ELO number telling them they are, in fact, not even close to a good player. LoL does that, and while far more popular for other reasons, it does have the whole "ELO Hell" misconception going for it.

If nothing else, WoT shows that if done right, MOBA-lite works even for those who don't enjoy having their personal skill level displayed to them. I'd say that's a pretty significant accomplishment.

Have you played Demon's Souls?
Why are you comparing this to LoL, syncaine? That's absolutely ridiculous. Do you get paid for backing that game too?
LoL was mentioned earlier in this thread as a possible game for Tobold to try... No need to bite syncaine's head off for a passing reference.

Really though, I don't think LoL is the type of game for Tobold anyways. LoL is definitely pretty fast-paced and I don't recommend it at all unless you have friends to play with. It's very much a team game that requires good coordination to play well and have fun, and I sorta don't think it fits Tobold at all.
Well I am a long time WoW player (played since 2005), and I hate PVP. I love WoT though :) Just this morning I went into a fight with a T6 medium and ended up as bottom tank (had IS-4s on top). Ended up with 5 kills (incl a IS-4 :)) and 3k+ xp. So even if you think you are pretty much dead in the beginning you can end up doing well :) (Was mostly because everyone on each team was shooting eachother and no one saw me whole match. Ended up firing almost all my ammo).
The players on the forums report that playing stops to be profitable (i. e. you start losing credits) by tier 7 for free, 8-9 for premium accounts. It is still possible to get a lower tier tank and grind credits with it, if you don't have cash but have the time.

The social experience is really lacking. The chat messages disappear very quickly (the map "pings" where someone marks a location on the map seem to last forever though), maybe that's one of the reason for it. I haven't played any remotely recent multiplayer FPS (i. e. less than 10 years old) but I remember the chat never used to be good.
200k peak users roughly means 1 million active accounts. From 3 million registrations. Thats all in line with the normal f2p data from other games.

1 million active means 5-15% paying users depending on their performance, thats 100.000 average.

If on average users pay €10 thats 1 mil per month. Client games usually have higher payments though, 15-35 euro, so I guess they do about 2 mill per month.
200k peak users roughly means 1 million active accounts. From 3 million registrations. Thats all in line with the normal f2p data from other games.
I think you are way off. EvE - 420k ~60k peak - factor of 7. But eve also requires long playing sessions . WoT only require
10-15 minutes to play

So its more likely much larger segment of accounts are active at any ont time

If on average users pay €10 thats 1 mil per month.

Maybe. From the amount of premium tanks I seen in game though it appears that people pay more (each lowe is $30). I know a lot of people in my clan who spent over $100 . And quite a few over $200

In any case from all the data WoT seems to be a very profitable business.
@Syncaine- though I rarely disagree with you I think you're wrong about player skill not entering into it. An experienced player will usually fare better in the same circumstances as an inexprienced one given that tactics do factor into the game (true story).

@Helistar et al: social experience in a (basically) FPS? Join a clan and that is where the social experience comes from imo.

Who looks to random pug chat for social interaction in any game?
Do Russia and other non Europe/US servers use a different pricing model? Seems strange that you kind of dismissed them in the opening paragraph otherwise.
I'm not "dismissing" them, I'm just pointing out that "1 player" gives you a different revenue depending on where he lives and what server he plays on. WoT gold is cheaper on Russian servers, and Russians have a lower GDP per person than Americans and Europeans.
Hey, great article! Caveat: I work here in the tankyard! Look me up in the game and forums, I am ChrisK ( BTW we are up over 150k concurrent users on the Russian cluster alone, and as mentioned China is going to pass Russia very soon. We've had some problems with the nearest gateway to the Internet backbone near our North American cluster host that we are trying to clear up at the moment, but once that lag is gone it will be smooth sailing with new maps, tanks, and features every month or two!
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