Saturday, June 25, 2011

I caved in, bought gold

Whoa there, before you all blast me, I'm not talking about WoW! Just to make myself clear (for the 1000th time), I am against buying WoW gold and I believe it trivializes the game anyway. Having gotten this out of the way...

The game I bought gold for is... you've probably guessed it... World of Tanks!

The way gold works in WoT is not that obvious from the beginning. In fact, considering that the game is free to play and it offers pretty much the entire tech tree and all the maps regardless of whether you pay or not, you can theoretically play through all the 10 tiers of tanks without spending a (real) dollar.

The catch is that it becomes harder and harder to gain XP and credits (the game's currency) as the tiers go by. By tier 6 it takes a very long time to gain all the necessary XP to upgrade a tank with the best equipment and even more so to move on to the next tier.

World of Tanks has an interesting XP system. Each tank gains XP individually but at the same time, 5% of that experience is saved separately in a "Free Experience" pool which means it can be used by any other tank. Experience is used to research upgrades. Credits are used to buy those upgrades after they are researched.

Once a tank researches all the possible upgrades, it continues to earn XP but that XP is now worthless for this particular tank. You can choose to turn off XP in return for accelerated crew training. But isn't the remaining XP now lost forever? Not quite. That's where the gold comes in.

World of Tanks has such an innovative F2P model that it got me (I'm a notorious tight-fist) to spend money to enjoy the game even more, after only 2 weeks of playing it. For $30 (2 months of WoW) I bought 6500 gold.

Here's what I used the gold for:

1) I converted the remaining XP for tanks which I had either sold (yes, you can still recover the XP from those tanks), or for tanks which had become elite (all upgrades researched) to Free XP. I used that Free XP to research some upgrades badly needed for one of my tier 5 tanks.

2) I trained the crew to 100% for one of my favorite tanks (a Marder II Tank Destroyer if you are curious) and also for my tier 5 tank (a Panzer IV Medium Tank).

3) I might buy an extra garage slot later.

4) I might purchase a 1-month premium account, which allows me to gain XP and credits at a 50% increased rate.

5) Finally, I might buy a premium tank which allows me to farm credits because it is cheap to repair and automatically makes 50% more credits from battles due to its premium status. Unfortunately this tank costs about $40 in real money so I'm a bit on the fence on that.

Was it worth it? Here's a short analysis of each of the above points.

1) Converting XP is relatively cheap. Since having a lot of XP sitting around on other elite tanks doing nothing is not going to help, I consider it a very good thing to be able to transfer that XP to tanks which need it desperately. As a result, I was able to more quickly research the upgrades my Panzer IV needed in order to not suck so badly in combat. Now, the tank is competitive and a blast to play.

2) Initially I was skeptical about training the crew. A new tank starts with a crew at 50% training, unless you are willing to pay a lot of credits to train them to 100%. Problem is, it becomes progressively harder to reach that 100% as you get closer to it.

The quick solution is to spend 200 gold to train each crew member. That's about $1. A tank with a crew of 5 will cost $5 to train to 100%.

First, I trained the crew of 3 for my Marder II Tank Destroyer. The vehicle already had all the upgrades and it was performing well. Let me just say this: the first battle after buying 100% training, I killed 7 enemies (out of a total of 15). My previous record had been 4.

 On top of that, I also won a very wacky medal (it's just like a WoW achievement), for killing the last enemy with my last shell. Hah! Now that's something you don't see every day!

The other tank I trained crew to 100% is my Panzer IV, a Medium with high firepower (when upgraded to the max). Was it worth it in this case? Hell yeah! My tank performs to the top of it's abilities now and is an armored machine of death (at least until it gets spotted).

Why is 100% crew skill so important? Because at 100% crew training every stat on the tank is worth 100%. Crew also aims faster, more accurately, drives better, repairs damage in combat quicker, puts out fires quicker, spots enemies from a farther distance and so on. After 100% you have the option to further specialize each crew member in a number of skills such as camouflage, repair and firefighting. But you can only start specializing once you reach 100%. And if you don't pay for that 100%, it will take ages until you get there.

3) More garage slots are good if you like playing with several different tanks. I already have tier 2 and 4 tanks which I enjoy playing, in addition to the tier 5 and the Tank Destroyer. I would also like to try my hand at SPGs (Self Propelled Guns, or mobile artillery) at some point. Problem is, garage space is limited. The only way you can increase it is either by buying more slots or by selling some of your tanks. It's almost a given that I will fork some gold (300 per) for an extra slot or two.

4) A premium account allows you to earn 50% extra XP and credits from battles. This will simply allow me to progress 50% quicker. Otherwise it doesn't give me a tactical advantage. I'm not sure I'll try it for more than a month though.

5) A premium tank is good for farming credits because these tanks are already fully upgraded (no need to research/buy new equipment), repairs on them are very cheap and these tanks earn 50% more credits than a normal tank of that tier. The only problem is that the nicest such tank, a German Heavy named Löwe costs about $40 in real money. I'm not so sure I want to spend so much money on one tank at this point but it is certainly a possibility for later. First, I'll see how the premium account works, but only after I get back from a short vacation.

There are other ways in which to spend your gold. For example you can buy some premium consumables (such as first aid or repair kits) or premium ammo (only useful in tournaments, unless you're swimming in cash and don't mind shooting real dollars each time your gun fires) but these are of no interest to me.

In conclusion, is it worth buying at least a little bit of gold in World of Tanks? From my point of view, the answer is a resounding YES! Not only does it help make the game more enjoyable by cutting down on some of the grind, but it also helps support the developers who made such an enjoyable and involving game.


Echo said...

I'm in the same situation with Spiral Knights. I love it, it's pure fun. But if I don't start spending some real dollars I will need to waste my life on it for a slow progress.

I still have to understand if I really want to spend money forever, because that's how this would be (it's not a 10 dollars one-time shot, of course).

Echo said...

I've been chatting with some players (ingame) and the general attitude is "I play for free as long as I can, then I will quit".

I guess that "free to play" works fine if you are not forced to spend money. Yes, you can play without spending... but forcing (free) players to level at super-slow speed is not fun anyway and it's a greedy way to ask money.

I still prefer spending a fixed amount of money in advance and play as much as I like/want, I guess.

Darth Solo said...

Well my point was that you can still play WoT as much as you want. You have access to all the tanks in the game (about 140 of them), the entire tech tree, as well as all the maps.

However, if you choose to pay, you can get sooner to the fun parts, i.e. you can upgrade the tank of your dreams quicker and have more fun playing that tank. Regardless whether you pay or not, you will still arrive at the same point. The only question is when.

I appreciate how the devs implemented the gold economy. At some point you feel compelled to spend some cash, even if you started out thinking that you wouldn't.

Some people obviously will choose not to pay a single penny and that's a perfectly valid choice. Unfortunately, if everyone chose to do the same, the game studio would be forced to shut down for lack of revenue.

The F2P model can be risky but also rewarding if implemented correctly.

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Echo said...

How's WoT going on? How do you "feel" the F2P model is working for this game?

Darth Solo said...

It's going great. I'm obsessed with it. I'm only at a tier 6 tank but I feel like I want to branch into several different trees to try other tanks.

The F2P model works too well I'm afraid. I bought a $30 gold package and now it's almost gone, after less than a month of play. The last thing I bought was a 7-day premium subscription for the price of a 3-day. They had a special promo.

I need to control myself not to spend too much :)

Echo said...

> I bought a $30 gold package and now it's
> almost gone [...] I need to control myself
> not to spend too much :)

Oh well, you're fueling a cool indie company. That's always good in my opinion. Much better than spending ovr and over for the same old content with a different skin :)

I'm now at a turning point with my F2P game (Spiral Knights). I was VERY tempted to cash 2.75$ for a very good bonus (or 10$ for a MUCH better one) when I suddenly found a way to make cash/xp at a faster rate. No hacks, just some tactics and skill (reading forums helps a lot).

We'll see how it goes. It's true that few dollars would be a ridiculous amount, considering the fun and the quality of the game.

GO BACK TO YOUR TANK, you stinky goat.

P.s. check this official Blizz thread about wow-basd websites (bankalt):

Echo said...

And so... I just discovered "League of Legends". It looks like I lived under a rock until now. A true F2P title.

Downloaded, installed, will be testing it soon.

Darth Solo said...

Ah thanks for telling me about those games. I'd heard of both but never tried them. I doubt I'll get the chance to give them a try soon because I'm engrossed in WoT but it's good to know.

Yeah, that $30 shows my support for a well-made game.

I'm not worried about the Blizz thing. BankAlt does not interact with armory, I keep all the data in my own database.

Echo said...

There is just one big flaw in this F2P model: non-paying customers play at the cost of paying-customers.

As long as YOU pay, others will keep playing for free at your expense.

There is another thing that I don't like that much: you pay for a "limited" thing. When your funds finish, you must refill your wallet.

It's not like "you pay a fixed amount and pay as much as you like". The gameplay quality (time spent to level, mostly) is based on how much money you invest. It would be like hiring a chinese guy to level your toon in WoW.

I decided to follow your example and I cashed some dollars in Spiral Knights. By spending just 3,00€ I was able to acquire great stuff that would have required days/weeks (the game is MUCH cheaper than WoTanks, by the way).

Was it worth the money? Yes, absolutely.

Will I spend more? No, no way. Because I am not feeling like I pay for something where I have full access, when and where I want.

I still prefer the "fixed amount per month" fee. You pay it and you do whatever you want.

Darth Solo said...

Well, I don't quite agree about the first part. I don't care if I'm paying so others can pay. I just pay for the convenience of getting some nice things.

I'm not going to continue paying but that initial $30 helped a lot. I still have some of it left and I've learned to use the gold more strategically so that it lasts longer and gives more value.

For now I got pretty much all I wanted. I have all the tanks that I want to play with and I'll stick with them for a while.

Will I buy more gold later? Maybe, because it sure helps.

Will I subscribe again? I doubt it, unless they offer another good deal. For me, subscribing only offers more credits earned but it still doesn't increase the earned XP. Credits are easier to earn than XP anyway.

Echo said...

Hyea dirty and stinky firend... Few things for you here.

1) Are you still playing WoT?
2) If YES, did you pay more (real) dollars?
3) What about WoW, did you play it again?
4) And what about P90X, how's going there :-)
5) Is BankAlt working fine / becoming popular?

Seriously... I'm tired of refreshing this blog 3 times a day waiating for some news :-P so if you have a Google+ account please let me know so we can keep in touch there.

/hug !

Darth Solo said...

Hey ol' buddy!

1) Yep!
2) Nope, I just paid the $30 but I still have some of it. My plan is not to buy any more gold this year.
3) Nah, I can't bear the idea of going back to WoW. I'm having too much fun with WoT and if I get bored with that, Diablo 3 is right around the corner.
4) I'm going through a lazy phase right now... don't feel like working out, but it's all good 'cos I've lost weight just doing nothing (not that I was fat or anything).
5) TBH I haven't checked it in a long time. It runs on auto-pilot now. I actually had an idea for a WoT site...

Nah I'm not on G+ or Facebook, I'm totally against these social media sites, forever will be. They are dangerous man!

What have you been up to? Still playing WoW?

Echo said...

Forgot to reply to this one.... will do it now.

No more WoW for me too, got bored of gameplay and constant updates, making me feel like an eternal paying beta tester.

G+ and Facebook are not dangerous at all, brotha! Just use them with very little brain and you're done :)