Wargaming.net believe that war should take place on a level playing field. Money may make the world go round but it won’t buy you any extra-powerful rounds for your weaponry, whether those weapons be attached to tanks, planes or
automobiles ships. In an interview with Gamasutra, Andrei Yarantsau, VP of publishing at the Belarusian behemoth, stated that the World of Tanks and other forthcoming titles, including World of Warplanes and World of Warships, would operate on a ‘free to win’ basis. This seems like good news.
Specifically, what this change means is that any items that provide an in-game advantage will now be unlocked using experience, while real world cash will only buy cosmetic items. That means people who devote a lot of time to the game may well be at an advantage, accruing a useful stock of boosters even if they spend most of the time losing and generally being rubbish. Still, if Wargaming can continue to post impressive takings with this new policy, it could draw the attention of other developers of free-to-play competitive games, but the transition may only be possible when a huge audience is already captive.
Whatever the wider considerations, the policy also forms part of an attempt to create a larger impact in the e-sports market: “Professional sport–and gaming is no exception–is about fair competition. The introduction of our new free-to-win system will really help facilitate the development of World of Tanks as a true eSports discipline.” I’m not interested in sporting tank warfare but ‘free-to-win’ immediately makes me twice as interested in the games as I was before, even if it’s a very silly phrase. Also, not that I’ve actually typed out ‘sporting tank warfare’ I realise that I’m extremely interested in it. I’d watch Robot Wars if the robots were full-scale remote control tanks, although they’d probably have to build a bigger arena.