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Wargaming’s US and European director reveals the key to free-to-play success on PC: patience

Is patience something we can learn from the unbending steely will of the mobile artillery platform?

Victor Kislyi may be Wargaming’s CEO, but Frederic Menou oversees the largest domain in the company – North America, Europe, the Middle-East and Africa. He knows his stuff – and the stuff he’s made of, apparently, is patience. 

Menou says free-to-play developers need to allow a “certain amount of time before monetisation” if they have a hope of replicating World of Tanks’ success.

August will mark the four year anniversary of Wargaming’s flagship Russian release – but not until this year did World of Tanks break 80 million accounts, and its creators invest $10 million in its reported 40,000 eSports teams.

It’s time and word of mouth that have allowed for these eventual highs, Menou told Develop.

“When you buy premium games, you know these are products with a high price and with content which will not evolve, or maybe only with the help of some DLC,” he said.

“F2P games are another concept. When you play F2P titles you know the content will be updated regularly, from the day of release, and that the game won’t be the same after a couple months. It’s constantly changing. The community will also grow with time and will help the game to stay around. This is even more true if the game has some eSport potential.”

Wargaming publically abandoned pay-to-win last year to pursue World of Tanks’ eSports potential.

The next generation of massively successful free-to-play games, said Menou, will have already been released.

“You need a certain amount of time before the monetisation, which is the key of any F2P business,” he said.

“The game enriches itself with content, month after month, which gives more and more opportunities to have microtransactions which ensures monetisation. So you have to give time to F2P games to enter and stay in this [revenue] chart.”

However, Menou cautioned against thinking of players as “milk cows”: “You should never force players to pay to enjoy your game”. Do you agree?