No, this isn’t a post on the merits of the euro versus the deutschmark, though there is a fair amount of math. Rather, it’s spawned from a Twitter conversation which itself spawned from the announcement of Guild Wars 2‘s PLEX-like cash-for-gold microtransaction system. When I griped about people blowing things out of proportion because in-game currency (which I’ll abbreviate in the rest of this post to IGC, since the game I’m going to talk about calls it’s real-money currency “Gold”) is meaningless because, after reaching a certain point in pretty much any MMO, you have more than you’ll ever need and, for the most part, anyone who would actually buy IGC from a gold farmer in anything other than a very economy-focused game like EVE Online, is at the least, a very bad player and is at the most, an idiot. I’ve said this before, BTW.
That prompted a pair of responses from my favorite Twitter follower (this week, at least), David Hatcher, regarding World of Tanks:
World of Tanks, for example, your repair expenses go up faster than your income at tiers (6-7-8) slowing progress way down.
Just buying tanks, cant make enough money to keep up with tech making new tanks available. I dont have the +50% gold sub bonus.
I hadn’t really considered WoT, which is certainly a game that requires more money as you advance, and in some cases, more than you can afford. Granted, I consider it more of a MOBA than a true MMORPG, but I thought it was still a point worth exploring. So I did.
I ran 10 matches with my Tier VI tank, a German VK 3001 (P), last night. It only has one mod installed beyond its base configuration: an improved engine. Also, as point of fact, I’m a completely free player. I don’t have the +50% bonus from spending gold either, nor any other perks I could have paid for or received as a member of the gaming media. (You might notice some gold in my account from a screenshot, but I’m honestly unsure as to how it got there. Probably some promotion I participated in a while back, as anyone could have. In any case, I’ve never spent it.)
Here’s a thing about World of Tanks, though — you do need IGC to advance to a better tank, but you also need experience points. All the IGC in the world won’t do you any good if you don’t have enough XP to research new modules and, eventually, a new tank. So, before starting my matches last night with my tank last night, I counted up all the XP and all the IGC I would need to unlock and buy my new tank, minus the XP and IGC I currently had and also subtracting the IGC I would receive for selling my tank, which I’ve always done as I advanced. Basically, this would be the way to see how much I would need if my sole goal was to get the next tank in line and nothing else.
The results: I needed 59,211 XP and 792,210 IGC. Dividing IGC by XP means that for every point of XP I get, I’ll need to make about 13.4 IGC to “keep pace.” Ideally, I’d hit both milestones at the same time so I can unlock and buy my next tank all at once. Yes, I know that I can (and probably will) spend IGC on more upgrades for my tank, but those will improve my tank’s capabilities and alter the rate at which I earn IGC and XP, so I can’t really track that. This study is still valid for purposes of just determining how quickly I could get to the next tier of tank if that was my singular focus, without worrying about the intermediate steps.
Here were the results of my 10 battles. The IGC counts subtract all IGC required for repairs and restocking of ammo; they’re basically my net profit from each battle and does not count my one-time XP bonus (from my first battle) for the first win of the day.
My total for the 10 battles was 2,105 XP and 26,368 IGC. That’s a ratio of 12.5. It’s off my desired mark of 13.4, but not terribly so. At this rate, it would take me 281 battles (ugh) to get enough XP for my Tier VII tank and 300 to get enough IGC. That’s not an awful disparity, I think.
A lot of my IGC, however, goes into repairing my tank after it gets trashed in battle. That runs me about 5,000 IGC per fight, and with my 20% survival rate in these battles — which is actually greater than my overall 11% survival rate with this tank — it adds up. Still, if I could just add one more “survival” per 10 fights, that would add 5,000 to my total IGC and put me at a ratio of 14.9… sort of. You do gain more XP when your tankers survive the battle; in my very limited sample size above, I managed about 130 more XP in battles I survived as opposed to ones I didn’t. Even if that was actually a difference of 200 XP, then adding that to my total (with the +5,000 IGC for surviving) would yield a ratio of 13.6, still right about in line with my 13.4 established above.
I don’t think I’m a great World of Tanks player, as my survival rate above shows, and my overall win percentage is 43% — 37% with the VK 3001 (P). I probably will buy a new gun when it’s available, as I don’t recall that I got a single kill in my 10 matches — my current popgun couldn’t penetrate a French whore, much less a French tank. So I’m not some uber-elite player with a tricked-out machine for whom these results would be terribly atypical. I could play a little better, and probably be rewarded for it. Imagine that. In any case, at least in this fairly small sample size for a Tier VI medium tank, you can earn IGC and XP at a slow, though equitable, rate that wouldn’t require you to “buy” IGC with real money. Would Gold let me progress faster? Yes. Would it provide an “advantage”? No.
In other words, I’m declaring that I won an argument on the Internet. I’m sure that’ll hold up :)