Console releases are charging for everything from new uniforms to weapon skins these days. One of the biggest trends in gaming, free-to-play (a.k.a. freemium), is doing just the opposite. Such games don’t require a purchase to keep playing but millions of people are volunteering to pay for premium in-game items. The MMO World of Tanks has seen explosive growth recently, with more than 20 million registered users according to GamesIndustry. Developer Wargaming.net is growing due to its success, with 800 staff members around the world. That’s an increase of 600 staffers just since August 2011.
It’s a team-based MMO set in the mid 20th Century. Players can choose light tanks in the hopes of running circles around opponents, go with balanced attack medium tanks or bring out the heavy tanks to scorch the earth. Long range artillery offers sniper capability. Choices include more than 150 different tanks from America, Germany and the Soviet Union. They are, of course, upgradable as they earn experience in combat.Tank battles can feature as many as 30 armored vehicles firing on each other in teams of 15. Players have to work together if they hope for victory. Wargaming’s promotional materials call it a mixture of action, strategy, simulation and MMO genres.
World of Tanks offers tournaments and a clan system. Wargaming CEO Victor Kislyi told GamesIndustry he believes those intensely competitive players drive the profits. He said 25-30 percent of the game’s players pay for content. Success breeds sequels, and Wargaming is already hard at work on World of Warplanes and World of Battleships. Military history buffs who enjoy MMOs should find a lot to like, and millions of like-minded folks to play against.