Thursday 14 June 2012

Money is our madness, our vast collective madness

In the eternal border skirmish between Genius and Madness Peter Molyneux is a gun-runner and mercenary with no qualms about supplying and fighting for both sides, often at the same time. Having left Lionhead to found 22 Cans his first new project is Curiosity, a cube that can be chipped away with one of three chisels that cost nothing, 59p and £50,000. Not only an exploration of the psychology and morality of monetisation (perhaps touching on the rather interesting points Richard Bartle raised about fairness in micro-transaction based games) but also, as Oscar Wilde would have doubtless put it, mad as a box of frogs.

Talking about the game and wider issues, a GamesIndustry article suggests “… there are examples of individuals spending far more in free-to-play games – one World of Tanks player invested almost £500,000 in a single tank.” Sounds a touch high to me; I’ve heard of similarly insane totals being bandied about in relation to Project Entropia, but never World of Tanks. Extensive and thorough research (30 seconds spent typing “world of tanks £500,000” into a search engine) didn’t turn up anything apart from the original article, and a deeply confused “Related Posts” plugin that decided people reading about footballer Rio Ferdinand might be interested in “World of Tanks Ferdinand weakspots”. Actually, that’s not a bad idea; make a note, Darling: play heavily armoured tank destroyer as centre back for England.

The most expensive tank you can buy in World of Tanks, on the EU/US servers at least, is the Löwe for (depending on exact amount of in-game gold bought for real money, special offers etc) somewhere around £40; even if you use gold to convert experience to qualify faster for a Tier X tank, convert gold to credits to buy the tank, spend gold on training the crew, buy gold cosmetic camouflage, fire gold ammunition and use gold consumables in every match while snorting gold dust as some kind of bizarre and entirely ineffective narcotic (don’t try and get high on unreactive metals, kids) you’re not going to dent half a million quid.

The economy of the game functions in a different way in other regions, so I guess there was some crazy one-off purchase somewhere else; the only other explanation I could think of (barring a major decimal point shifting error) is that a World of Tanks player, inspired by the game, went and bought an *actual* tank. I was having a bit of a poke around the MilWeb armoured vehicle classified ads, as you do, and at the time of writing Northeast Military Vehicles Services LLC have got a rather nice looking M18 Hellcat (Tier VI US tank destroyer in the game) for $469,000…

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