Tobold's Blog
Saturday, October 12, 2019
Last chance to see?

On sites like I can get 30-year old games like Ultima IV, Pirates!, or Defender of the Crown. I don't necessary want to, but at least it feels as if these games are preserved, and I *could* play any old game I want. I don't have that feeling with multiplayer online games. And that sometimes makes me think that "I should play this, while it is still around".

One aspect of that is that multiplayer games do decline, and sometimes die. World of Tanks is at the lowest number of players per week ever, at around 650k on the European server (US server is only 125k). That tends to spike up around Christmas, but every year the spike is lower, and then it falls to an even lower low point. Not only is World of Tanks already 8 years old, it also suffers from a game design which encourages veteran players to prey on new players, which makes a large influx of new players unlikely.

But another aspect is that World of Tanks today, patch 1.6.1, is a very different game than it was years ago. Every patch changes things, and every year makes the player base more veteran. Unlike WoW Classic, a WoT Classic server wouldn't even make sense, because you just can't get back to the collective sense of discovery and trial-and-error gameplay.

The overall result is that World of Tanks is one of the few games I know where I have the impression that I missed out on something because I didn't play it for several years. And where I am a bit afraid that if I stop playing now, the game will be essentially unplayable or gone the next time I come back.


Have you ever tried out War Thunder? I played WoT quite a bit in the early days too but I found War Thunder to be a better game. It has pretty much the same advantages and disadvantages as WoT but feels much better in my opinion. It's also quite an old game though so I bet the decline in number of players is great there too.
650K is quite a lot. One time a game with that many weekly players would have been in the news!
I'm kind of amazed you're still at it. I was pretty OG, I was playing back in 2011-2012 but eventually it got old. I don't think you'd be missing much if you moved on to something else though. Surely there will be a sequel eventually, or something similar. You certainly don't sound like you're having a blast with it.
World of Tanks, as long as the servers are kept online, will be fine for years to come.

Multiplayer games have survived with much less players.

MechWarrior Online averages less then 10k players some nights. And yet you can still find games fairly quickly and I still run into new players.

You then have all the community run projects with only a few hundred to a few thousand players who still thrive in their small niches. MovieBattles II, a modded star wars game, is one of them.

Or MechWarrior:LL.

Literally the only thing that will kill World of Tanks is Wargaming shutting down the servers. (And even then it's possible the game could be resurrected by the community).
> Unlike WoW Classic, a WoT Classic server wouldn't
> even make sense, because you just can't get back
> to the collective sense of discovery
> and trial-and-error gameplay.

I don't get it. How does Classic achieve to do that? That sense of surprise, wonder and discovery is long gone even if you switch from Retail to Classic. Unless you've always been a vanilla nostalgic and played on some random unofficial server. I honestly doubt that anyone could enjoy a 15 years old MMORPG built on outdated, weird and buggy mechanics (and the community is far from being cute and cool).
Well, we don't have official numbers, but several estimates based on server numbers and queues suggest that WoW Classic has over 1 million players. So *someone* is obviously enjoying a 15 years old MMORPG built on outdated, weird and buggy mechanics (and the community is far from being cute and cool).
Ok but I don't get why you said this:

"a WoT Classic server wouldn't even make sense, because you just can't get back to the collective sense of discovery".

Why not? Why is Classic WoW able to bring back the collective sense of discovery and trial-and-error gameplay, while WoT couldn't do it (if there was a Classic WoT)? Aren't there Vanilla-WoT nostalgics there, just like in WoW?
I don't think that back in vanilla WoW people played the game badly. WoW simply isn't complex enough. The "dance" you have to perform for a raid boss mob got more complicated over the years, but there isn't a huge amount of difference in skill between raiders today and raiders back in Molten Core.

In World of Tanks the learning curve is long and steep. Unfortunately the optimal gameplay is extremely boring, as you can win by knowing the best defensible positions, and how to camp them. In early World of Tanks we played really badly, but that was more fun and more dynamic, because everybody played badly and generally too aggressive.
World of Warcraft had 'battlegrounds' where players joined up to fight for the Alliance or the Horde. I played a lot of Warsong Gulch, which was a 10 v 10 'capture the flag' game. Most people playing that tended to participate properly, andI think it was the same in the 15 v 15 Arithi Basin, though I didn't play a lot of that. In larger battlegrounds such as the 40 v 40 Alterac Valley, you saw a lot of camping, though.

As I understand it, battles in World of Tanks are 15 x 15, but maybe the dynamics of the game encourage camping more. And of course it may be that tank battles are more prone to stasis than WoW PvP. It does seem to me that camping at least might be reduced by reducing the number of tanks on each team. (Or there could be more radical options, like air strikes hitting tanks that stay in one place too long, but maybe that would take for the verisimilitude.)

At the end of the day, pick-up teams are always going to have problems, but maybe there are ways to mitigate them. Reducing the rewards would probably help too, but then the question arises as to whether the game is actually fun enough that people will play without rewards. I think most people played Warsong Gulch for fun.
(a) In about March 2019 wargaming set up a server for a much earlier version of WOT alongside modern WOT. I played the "classic" server for awhile, but even before the experiment ended I went back to modern WOT. I have played WOT since 2011, and the only moment that I would consider going back to would be imediately after patch 8.6, but even then I think modern WOT is actually better.

(b) all games suffer drop off. WOT also has always had a Christmas spike. But there are some posts/analysis somewhere (check out Quickybaby on youtube) about one year that stands out, I think it was 2017. The plotting of what happened is that wargaming hit a sweet spot of a new nation with the Christmas bonuses. It was the Swedish tree, and the two things together gained more players than the Christmas before or after, and so it has been pointed out to wargaming what they need to do to gain players, the studio just needs to execute it at the correct moment.

(c) Tobold are you in a guild/clan playing clan wars on the tier X map? If not you have not experienced endgame yet. Have you played a campaign for a reward tank? If not you are not yet playing heroic endgame content in WoT. The campaigns are night and day different from normal WOT. The fights in campaigns require greater coordination and far greater versatility than raiding in WOW, and I say that as someone who played wow from vanilla, Burning crusade, wrath of the Lich king, Cataclysm, and some of Pandaria as a raider playing dps and running addons to check I was always doing maximum dps in raids and trying to come out top for damage each boss fight, while top dps clearing trash mobs inbetween.

(d) re the Gerry Quinn comments. I also played Warsong, Alterac and Arathi. I played a huge amount of Arathi in Vanilla for the unique mount at that time.
In WOT you can play 15x15 randoms, team battles used to be 7x7, regular competitions that run from 3x3 and up, Strongholds at 10x10, and Grandbattles at 30x30, and lastly Frontline 30x30 on a long map. I like the variety in WOT, and do not think a specific number leads to less camping.
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