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Wargaming abandons pay-to-win in World of Tanks to pursue eSports; “We don’t want to nickel and dime our players”

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Blimey: here’s a statement of intent. Wargaming.net have pledged to remove any traces of pay-to-win (their words, not ours) from World of Tanks and all future games – World of Warplanes and World of Warships included. Revenue will instead come from sales of customisation options, premium vehicles and other items that don’t provide combat advantage.

Wargaming hope the move will help reform the image of free-to-play and enable a concerted push into the world of PC eSports.

Wargaming are calling their new strategy ‘free-to-win’, which is one of those buzz terms that only makes sense in the context of all the others. They told Gamasutra that testing began on the new payment model in 2012.

“We don’t want to nickel and dime our players – we want to deliver gaming experiences and services that are based on the fair treatment of our players, whether they spend money in-game or not,” VP of publishing Andrei Yarantsau explained.

“The amount of time and effort payers and non-payers spend to succeed in-game may differ, but at the very least the list of accessible options at their disposal remain identical.

“Free-to-play games have the challenge of being sometimes viewed as low quality, and we want World of Tanks to serve as proof that a quality and balanced free-to-play game is possible. However, breaking down deeply-rooted stereotypes is no easy task.”

Yarantsau said that eSport expansion was an “integral part” of Wargaming’s business plans, and pointed to the in-house Wargaming.net League as the first step.

“Our new World of Tanks features, including recent changes in our business model, are aimed at further growing our games in this direction. 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.

He added: “The Wargaming game design team has been focusing heavily on competitive elements for our games, so we’re eager to see this all catches on with our players.”

The Minsk-based publisher/developer lately launched the World of Tanks North American eSports League with Hero Level Productions, the team behind StarCraft’s NASL. What do you think of WoT’s prospects as a high-level competitive game, with sponsors and prize pools and whatnot?

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