Free To Play Success Is "Rocket Science"
Wargaming.net CEO Victor Kislyi believes that creating a successful Free To Play game is a "rocket science" that requires constant player feedback and tempering the desire to be "too greedy." Apparently listening to the fanbase is the only way that Free To Play games can survive - whether it's through forums or actually meeting players face to face.
During an interview at Tankfest 2012 (stay tuned), Kislyi told us that World Of Tanks has been such a huge success due to a desire to balance being "too free" and "too greedy," - and took a sly dig at several MMOs by suggesting that games have to be specifically designed for a F2P model from day one.
"I am now in a position to say that the Free To Play model, if you want to do it right, it’s a rocket science. There is no way you can turn an MMO or a singleplayer game with multiplayer elements into Free To Play by just dropping the subscription and casually adding the virtual item shop. No. It doesn’t work like this!"
"We are always on the edge between being too free and going bankrupt, and between being too greedy, being play to win and generating maybe a couple of thousand dollars from select players – and then going downhill as the rest of the pack will not join the game, realise that it’s play to win and never come back. So this is rocket science."
Player feedback has been the driving force behind World Of Tanks - both through forum posts, emails and actively seeking out fans across the world for face-to-face meetings over several pints. According to Kislyi, "there's no way around" it.
"I’ve taken a couple of notes from players today, thank God that they were pretty much minor requests – usually they are a little more aggressive. This means that we’re doing things right! What we do, myself and a team of community guys, we travel across the world non-stop... Whenever we have a chance, we meet the players. Either it’s a big trade show, or we just go and do it. I myself have met about a thousand players. You just go, even if it’s about twenty people. You might think that twenty is little, no. You sit with them in a pub, drink beer for two to three hours, and you talk."
"There is no way around listening to your players. How else do you see that? Not listening to your players? No! We would be going nowhere, so you have to do that. Of course, physical meetings aren’t the only way. We have hundreds of community support people who are sitting at their computers around the clock, reading the forums, answering, discussing, it’s a non-stop mass production-style feedback gathering."
Hear hear; it's always galling when players aren't included in the evolution of an online game (mentioning no names). World Of Tanks is set for a major update very soon, and our interview with Victor Kislyi will be going live in an hour.