We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be

I’ve been running World of Tanks as a Premium player for the past four or five months, a subscription-ish option that gives a 50% bonus to XP and credits at the end of each match. You buy in-game gold with real money, then buy Premium status (for 1, 3, 7 or 30 days) with that gold, so the exact price per month depends on how much gold you buy in the first place and how long you opt for Premium status. As with so many digital currency systems the more gold you buy the less it costs per unit, thus you can argue you’re saving money by spending more in the first place, but unless you have great self-control then the more gold you have kicking around the easier it is to succumb to the temptation of using it to just upgrade the training on a couple of your tank crew, oh and convert some into credits to fund a new tank, and heck why not buy one of those premium tanks while we’re here… You can use that as further proof of the Satanic corrupting nature of hell-spawn microtransactions if you really want, but it’s hardly different from picking up a kilogram bag of pistachio nuts instead of one or two smaller packs, convincing yourself you’ll just have a handful now and again, and winding up on the sofa that night with an empty bag, surrounded by shells, trying to use a remote control as a makeshift nutcracker to get into those last few nuts that didn’t open properly.

Keeping up Premium status (plus some experience conversion and the odd credit splurge) has cost me about £50 since launch, which is pretty reasonable with no initial box fee, especially for the amount I’ve been playing (1,500-odd battles so far), I certainly don’t begrudge what I’ve spent, but as the Premium counter ticked down at the start of this week and I contemplated buying another pack of gold to top it up I’d been thinking about pricing, and I decided to hold off and see how things work out as a completely free player.

I’ve generally been slowing down a bit anyway; after darting around various tank types over all three nationalities up to Tier IV or V I’ve settled on two main vehicles, a Russian Tier VII tank destroyer (SU-152) and heavy tank (IS), and a daily routine: get in from work, switch on Pointless (a rather fun BBC quiz show) and try and get one win with each tank. The game and quiz complement each other nicely; Pointless, like just about every quiz show bar University Challenge and Mastermind, drags everything out with jingles, rules explanations, deliberations over answers and awkward chats with the contestants, and each World of Tanks match starts with a 30 second countdown then a lot of cautious manoeuvring for position, unless someone goes a bit mental and heads straight for the enemy at top speed. The multitasking does break down occasionally; “Argh, I’m sure I can name the band most associated with each of those seven guitarists but I can’t quite place Thurston Moore just at this moment while I’m sorting out the VK3601 threatening our right flank”, but generally it works out. If fate is kind and I get a couple of quick wins with the main tanks without punching the screen in instant death and/or idiot team frustration I’ll move on to one of my lower tier elite tanks to earn a few more credits and free XP, then wander off to something else for the rest of the evening.

Lack of the Premium XP bonus means upgrades will take a bit longer, but with each tank needing something like 80,000XP to move on to the Tier VIII ISU-152 or IS-3 it’s hardly a short-term goal, “a really, really long time” doesn’t seem that much longer than “a really long time” according to international standards of vague durational estimates. I’ll probably get there, in a month or two, but in the meantime it’s just about the individual battles rather than the advancement. The lack of a credit bonus isn’t too much of a problem either, for now; I can lose credits in a bad match if my tank gets destroyed and I fired a bunch of shells with little effect (heavy calibre ammo is pricey!), but for the most part I at least break even with the main tanks, and the SU-85 earns a handy profit. I might need to revisit the situation with a Tier VIII tank as they’re even more pricey to repair and rearm, and I’ll probably have to look at turning some gold into credits to actually afford a new tank in the first place; I funded a good chunk of the IS by selling off a few Tier V and VI tanks I was hardly playing, and also discovered that when you upgrade a component like an engine or gun the old item is shoved in your Depot. If you go to the Depot screen there’s an option to list shells or equipment not compatible with your current tanks, so I took everything to a nearby car park had a massive Tank Boot Sale, haggling with old ladies over the price (“No, madam, that is an 8.8 cm Kampfwagenkanone 36 L/56 and is most certainly worth considerably more than three credits.”)

Overall I’m happy for the time being to keep plinking away in a non-Premium fashion, though I’m certain Wargaming.net will end up with more of my cash at some point if they continue their sensible pricing, either for upgrades in World of Tanks or when one of their new games comes along; maybe World of Warplanes but World of Battleships could really hit the spot. I mean a 3″ gun is all right, but a 15″ gun chucking the best part of a ton of shell over 20 miles, now we’re talking…

6 thoughts on “We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be

  1. mbp

    I spent €20 in total on WoT which got me up to a well equipped level V medium tank before my enthusiasm for the game waned. I spent my cash on training and xp conversion.

    If I had spent a bit more (on a premium sub for example) I probably could have made a bit more progress in the same timescale but I don’t think I would have kept playing for any longer as boredom had begun to set in.

    I really enjoyed my time in the game though and consider it money well spent.

  2. Gank

    I’m not sure I could bear to play without the premium bonus’ to be honest. It would be so heart breaking to play well and end up with a 1k credit surplus!

    The ISU-152 is a long way from the SU-152, I agree. I was super patient and used free experience (and thus cash) to unlock all the modules before finally buying it. Money well spent. The BL-10 (a tier 10 gun) is ridiculous at this level (Tier 8). My kill count has shot up to more than 1 per game and the best news of all? Cheap to run.

    The ammo, of course, is pricey but as long as you pick you shots (which you likely will be by the time you get to that level in a TD) you do enough damange to ensure you never lose money. The repairs are really cheap (3k or so for a total annihilation). My average xp is the highest of any of my tanks at 600+ per match, and I’ve yet to lose a credit (even in no-kill destroyed matches).

  3. ArcherAvatar

    WOT has gotten a fair amount of coin from me, and a very fair trade I call it for the amount of entertainment I’ve received for it… however it pales in comparison to the Warplanes version on the horizon. Saw some demo videos and I simply can’t wait for that.

  4. Zoso Post author

    @mbp I reckon it’s a pretty good demonstration of the (potential) equity of a decent F2P/microtransaction/’freemium’/whatever-people-want-to-call-it system; I know a few people who tried WoT and didn’t really get into it, then various bloggers/commenters who’ve spent anywhere from a few quid up to hundreds, and nobody seems resentful (though I’m sure there are a few “my World of Tanks addiction debt hell” stories around somewhere). Maybe one problem with the $60-for-the-box games like you’ve been talking about, where (assuming everyone buys it for somewhere around RRP near launch) someone who plays an hour or two but doesn’t really get into it pays the same as someone who plays through a single player campaign once and sticks it on the shelf who pays the same as someone who explores every aspect of the single player game and plays multiplayer every evening (all of whom pay four times as much as the person who gets it in the Steam sale).

    @Gank I’m missing the boosts, but not too badly with just a couple of battles a day. I might even look at the 1 or 3 day Premium options for going on an insane-tank-bender now and again…

    I’m on the home stretch with the SU-152 upgrades, got the engine, guns etc. (that last 122mm is pretty nice, 7 rounds per minute feels like a machine gun compared to the similar-but-slower version on the IS), just another 60,000-odd to the ISU itself (could cover it with free XP, but I’m saving that to get that lovely Tier X gun ASAP, loving the sound of that! SU-85 time again, having a +2 tier gun.) The IS is further behind, I’m weighing up whether to get the engine upgrade or not for 25,000ish XP, tempted to skip it for getting to the IS-3 quicker as the base engine performance isn’t too bad, but then it’ll work on the IS-3 as well…

    @ArcherAvatar I did like a good flight sim back in the day, and World of Warplanes does look very shiny… I worry slightly about how lag might affect faster paced combat, but I’ll definitely be giving it a go.

  5. Gank

    hehe…I took a look again at the SU-85 and see what you mean. I actually skipped it on the way up but that gun looks cool. I assume you can cause some serious destruction with it!

    I’ve been using the KV-13 to get free XP as I manage around 550 XP per game with it. I now have enough (130K) to skip the t-43 and jump straight into the Tier 8 T-44 but for the fact I’ve falen in love with the Panther on the test server….. ahh, the live of a (tank) altoholic :)

    That and I tried the T-44 on the test server and was a little dissapointed…. could be the sniping Panther with its extremely accurate gun suits me better as I’m used to sniping with TD’s.

  6. sean

    if you don’t know who Thurston Moore is, you really need to reconsider your priorities!

    now if the question was, ‘which of Thurston Moore’s contributions to music has been the most significant’ then yeah, that might cause some nightmares of evaluation.

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