Monday, June 06, 2011

World of Tanks versus Call of Duty Elite?

World of tanks is an online multiplayer first person shooter, make no mistake about it. WASD controls, mouse aiming, left mouse button to shoot,  scroll wheel to zoom, small closed maps, Two teams of 15  players each. Sure it has vehicles and sure those vehicles just happen to be tanks but this game firmly belong to the FPS school and bears relatively little relation to the click to target open world model of mmorpgs ...except that it has a cash shop ... and serious players can pay a monthly sub for premium access ...  and shock horror, people who pay more money get game changing perks like better ammo and heals as well as the ability to progress much faster.

So why is World of Tanks getting so much love when Activision's proposed addition of a subscription service to Call of Duty is getting so much abuse?

Putting aside emotional arguments based on a dislike of "Big Gaming" in general and Bobby Kotick in particular  I can think of a couple of key differences:

1. The $60 entry price for a Call of Duty / Modern Warfare game. In World of tanks you can start to play for free and then if you like the game you can pay more to get more. There is absolutely no suggestion (and no likelihood) that Activision will lower the box price of their game once they bring in the subscription service so there is the feeling that Activision are just double dipping. Activision however have taken pains to point out that you will still be able to do lots without paying a subscription. Indeed it is very hard to find out what a subscription will actually add. Informed opinion is that this is just a toe in the water and that the initial subscription offer will only tempt the hardcore.

2. The E-sports mentality. FPS games have traditionally been ruthlessly balanced games where skill triumphs over luck and quick fingered adolescents get to humiliate grown men with fatter wallets.  Call of Duty comes from that heritage and any move towards a system where someone who pays more gets an advantage would be seen as a betrayal of the spirit of such a game. Because World of Tanks doesn't come from that heritage it isn't subject to the same constraints and people seem to just accept the fact that money can buy you power.  To be fair to Wargaming.net  they do seem to have good balancing routines which balance the teams overall even if individual members of any team have widely differing capabilities. Even if you are in the weakest tank on your team the chances are there is someone on the other side just as weak as you.
 
Putting the comparison aside one of the most interesting analyses of Activision's move that I have read was made by Bill Harris: He suggests that the whole point of  "Call of Duty Elite" is to lock customer's in to a social network infrastructure based on their games. Certainly sounds like a good (if scary move) but why charge for it? The message of social networking surely is that it has to be free.




2 comments:

Stabs said...

I actually rather like it that in WoT I can play for free (or close to it - I did indulge to the tune of £5) at the cost of being cannon fodder.

I don't mind being cannon fodder. I never talk to anyone and only measure myself against myself. If I kill a tank every third game then games when I kill a tank are exciting to me even if by someone else's standards I would be a noob.

It is for me, the least social MMO game I've ever played. I never talk to anyone have no friends no guild and usually I don't even find out whether my team won our match. It's an ideal "I feel like doing something completely brainless" game.

mbp said...

I think you have summed it up brilliantly stabs. WoT is a success because even being cannon fodder is fun when you are driving a tank.

I haven't spent any money on the game yet but I intend to make a mild investment now that I have finally moved up from the "everything is free" level 1 tanks.