We've recently received a number of questions regarding the economy changes that are slated to come to World of Tanks with the 8.5 update. Players first caught wind of these changes in the patch notes for the 8.5 public test server. Our Senior Producer, Gareth Luke, thought this would be an excellent opportunity to share a little bit of the philosophy behind these changes.
World of Tanks has been built from the ground up as a free-to-play enterprise with competitive play at its heart. For those players that have been with us since the early days, you've seen the progress we’ve made in providing a truly excellent experience. Our current direction is one aimed at fostering the growth of a community of skilled tankers, and we want our players to drive one another ever upward in ability.
As part of the effort to create an army of skilled tankers, we ran an experiment in the 8.1 update with the sale of our Premium Ammunition. These shells provide no bonus to damage, but have better penetration potential. Previously, this ammo was only available to players that had invested in Gold currency and were typically used in the upper echelons of gameplay like tournaments and Clan Wars matches. Today, "Gold Shells" are now permanently available to non-Premium players, and it's had a positive effect on the overall gameplay for World of Tanks.
In the 8.5 update, we're going to extend that same idea to Premium Consumables: they'll become available to our players by way of Credits. There will be an initial oversaturation of these items in normal battles, but that will stabilize. What we're anticipating is another shift in the way the game is approached by our player base. It's an evolution that we’re happy to support.
In addition, we'll remove the Premium requirement necessary to form three-player Platoons and when forming a Tank Company. The reasoning behind this is simple. Players who have dedicated themselves to World of Tanks, from tournaments to major Clan Wars participants, almost all utilize the privileges of Premium, and have a strong social network within our game. Tank Companies and three-player Platoons have been a big part of why they've stuck with the game and have risen to the top.
By granting free access to these social elements of gameplay, we're further leveling the field for all of our players. Playing together and forming these tightknit groups, we fully expect the skill of the average World of Tanks commander to improve. Motivation to keep pace with your peers is a powerful force, and it certainly doesn't hurt that we've got a a $2.5 million dollar prize pool for the 2013 season of our newly launched Wargaming.net League.
One of the hardest things about launching a game into the eSports arena is not only making sure that there are enough skilled players out there to support it, but also having enough knowledgeable players to watch it. We want to make our game attractive to everyone. Once someone decides that it’s the game for them, we want to make sure the infrastructure is in place to pull them in from newbie to veteran. The changes coming in the 8.5 update will help make this a reality.
The line between the gameplay experience for a free player and a Premium player is thinning. Not just for skill-based games like World of Tanks, but for free-to-play games in general. There are a myriad of titles out there to choose from and players expect a high degree of production value and support from free-to-play games today.
The changes that we're making are the result of listening to our passionate community; World of Tanks belongs to all of us. Now, let's roll out!
Gareth Luke is the Senior Producer for Wargaming America. Although he only recently joined the team, he brings a wealth of game industry experience to our San Francisco Bay Area office. Gareth previously employed his expertise for numerous other Game Developers. Expect to hear more from our North American Production team in the future.