Tobold's Blog
Friday, January 25, 2019
 
Freedom and money in World of Tanks

People generally don't think of World of Tank as a MMORPG. But in some respects there are similar structures: A combat system that is embedded in a progression system. These days World of Tanks even has "quests" in the form of missions and campaigns. And the premium account much resembles a subscription business model. With progression come restrictions to what you can and cannot do in the game: You can't start on a new account and jump into a tier X tank, you start at tier I and then need to work your way up. And because there are so many different tank lines, of different types and different nations, there is always some progress to aspire to.

In a way, that progress is illusory and a trap. Yesterday I noticed after having won a battle with a tier X tank that I was at 100% win rate with that tank, having used it for the very first time. But I got that tank in 2011, and just didn't play since. And even now, driving that tier X tank isn't necessarily any more fun than driving a lower tier tank. You are more powerful, but so are your opponents, and there are more experienced players at the higher tiers, so you might in fact do better at the lower tiers.

If I had to state a progress goal of mine in World of Tanks, I would say I want to complete the Russian tech tree. Most of my tanks are Russian, and I have already several Russian lines up to tier IX or X, so getting all the rest would appeal to what completionist gamer instincts I have. That goal somewhat influences what tanks I drive: Tanks that haven't won a battle that day yet, to get double xp, rather than always the same. Tanks that lead to not-yet-researched tanks rather than those that are fully researched. And sometimes premium tanks for credit farming.

But lately I have been wondering whether this is actually a good idea. It is definitively how World of Tanks is designed, following the progress of lines to highest tier. But the end result is that I drive too many different tank types without concentrating on one type. And that I drive tanks that aren't always fun to play, in the unfounded hope that the higher tiers are more fun. Fact is that I am better at some things in World of Tanks than at others, which makes me perform better in some tank types than in others. And at the end of the day it is often more fun to perform better. It is just that if I always drive the tanks that are most fun to me in the combat system of the game, I end up doing not so well in the progress system of the game.

Now in the defense of World of Tanks one has to say that this is less prominent in WoT than in other games. If you would choose to play some low level content over and over in World of Warcraft, your progress would totally stop. In World of Tanks you still progress your crew skills of that low tier tank you are driving, you still accumulate credits (actually more so in lower tiers than in higher tiers), and the xp you gain with your tank you can convert into free experience and use that to unlock tanks of other lines.

Now what I noticed about this plan of not following the planned progression, but concentrating on whatever tanks are most fun to drive for me at the moment, is that money helps. My Pz II J is fun to drive, but at a loss of credits. But that is a problem that is easily solved with money, because you can buy credits directly, in bundles, or indirectly via gold. Converting the experience of tanks that are fully researched into free experience also costs gold, and thus money. And of course the whole plan works a lot better with a premium account, which also costs gold or money.

Me, I don't mind. So yesterday I bought a bundle of 12.5 million credits and 12,500 gold for €99.99. I fully agree that hundred bucks purchases are expensive if solely regarded on the price scale of how much game you can get for your money. Or as Bigeye said in yesterday's post, it isn't a Free2Play game when you don't play for free. But I have developed a healthy skepticism towards the idea that you can get things for free. Free stuff can end up costing you more than stuff you pay for. Ultimately as a player of a Free2Play game one always has to check what one values more, money or fun. In World of Tanks, sometimes things like costly premium ammo are the answer to your problem. And as the overall game is very good, for me spending that money to remove some fun blocks is worth it.

Comments:
I absolutely have always have thought of WoT as a PvP focused MMO (if perhaps a stripped down MMO). True there is no shared world apart from the battelgrounds. However, I also think sports games with a lot of RPG mechanics like Shot Online (the online golf RPG) count as MMOs.

More on topic, couldn't you just fill out the parts of tech trees associated with the classes of tanks you enjoy in different factions? Become an expert in scouts of all nations for example. Is there some reason you are locked into Russian tanks? I'm genuinely curious because I don't play WoT.

The last time I tried it i was impressed but the tutorial wasn't enough to teach me all the basics I needed. I was completely useless in the matches I played and gave up after one or two evenings. But it was also still in beta, I assume that's improved somewhat since then.
 
"couldn't you just fill out the parts of tech trees associated with the classes of tanks you enjoy in different factions?"

Yes, I could. Filling out the tech tree of one nation is really just for visible completion. While the tech trees have some branching, e.g. you need to play certain low tier light tanks before getting access to medium and heavy tanks, the rest of the tech trees is usually lines of the same type of tank. However sometimes switching nations is a bit confusing, because the same type doesn't play the same any more: An American turreted TD plays very differently than a Russian TD.

But it was also still in beta, I assume that's improved somewhat since then.

There is now a "boot camp" which teaches you the very basics of moving around and shooting enemy tanks against bot opponents. However there is far more to learn in World of Tanks than the boot camp teaches. And you are likely to meet veteran players who are "seal clubbing" in your first real battles, that is to say use not just their skill but also superior crew and equipment to slaughter newbies.
 
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