Many of World of Warships’ high profile players have distanced themselves from the game over what they say is ‘aggressive monetization’. The exodus has followed months of rising tensions over increased reliance on the purchase of loot boxes. The game has – as have many free-to-play games – always had content available for players to purchase, but in the past, these have mainly been accessible by grinding, that is, playing through the levels to achieve the same unlockable.
But with many prominent members of the game’s online community publicly decrying the excessive use of paid content, and further scandals involving offensive messages sent from the developers to players, World of Warships looks to be in choppy waters.
Tensions boil over
The growing prevalence of loot boxes had already become a bone of contention between developers and players, but the final straw came with the tactless reintroduction of a fan-favorite ship – USS Missouri, advertised as purchasable with the in-game currency.
Once released, it became clear that, actually, it would only appear randomly in loot boxes. This caused uproar amongst players, many seeing it as an excessively aggressive way to generate revenue at the expense of loyal gamers.
Well, respected ship reviewer, LittleWhiteMouse was one of the first to abandon the game, writing on a forum post “a Wargaming employee decided to contradict me, belittle me and ignore the evidence I was providing, all the while barking at me to show them respect.”
Commenting on the general disdain with which Wargaming (World of Warships developer) treated its players, she went on to write, “They see it as their right to mistreat Community Contributors and players and expect empty promises and hollow apologies to smooth things over.”
More players quit World of Warships
LittleWhiteMouse’s departure sparked an outpouring of anger across the internet, mainly at the way that Wargaming cares more about hitting sales targets than the gamers who keep them in business.
Since she left, there have been 23 more high-profile players who have jumped the same ship – including YouTuber The Mighty Jingles who condemned Wargaming for “increasingly aggressive monetization and implementation of gambling mechanics into a game marketed to children.”.
To make matter worse for the embattled company, it emerged that a Russian streamer who uses the alias Turry was referenced in an offensive bonus code after he went public on Reddit to say he hadn’t left of his own accord, in fact, he had been booted out by Wargaming because of his criticism of the developers.
The bonus code “FKUTURY” was quickly noticed and shared by other players, bringing even more heat down on Wargaming – it’s never a good look to say ‘f-you’ to your player base, especially when you’re in the firing line already. The company owned up to the mistake, blaming it on a single employee who has been suspended.
After initially taking offense, Turry decided to laugh it off, although he wasn’t readmitted and said he wouldn’t rejoin in any case. However, his love for the game endures. “I love this game very much despite the developer’s behavior,” he said. “I hope it will soon change somehow.”
But, despite Turry pulling his punches, the incident just adds more fuel to the fires burning around World of Warships.
What are loot boxes, and how do they relate to the casino mechanics?
A new and somewhat controversial way for gamers to spend money in free-to-play games are loot boxes, which are items that can be paid for with real-world money, but which contain randomized content. And this is where things get controversial – players don’t know what they will get for their money. It could be a rare or highly useful item for the game, or it may be a common item not worth the price of the box – even with bonuses and promo codes offered by most games, players still don’t quite get the relief of knowing what they spent their money on.
For example, when a player on SimCity Buildit buys an item they’re getting either increased efficiency for building projects or additional resources.
When a player of Call of Duty pays $2.49 to open a loot box, on the other hand, they may find an ultra-rare weapon skin (which can even be sold on for thousands of dollars) or a basic weapon.
An additional problem is that loot boxes are easily available to children, and much like scratchcards they are moreish, bordering on addictive.
As it can be concluded, the gambling mechanic is evident. Only, unlike in casino games, here players get to spend their money without any returns of investment, while not knowing what they’re getting. With casino games, a player knows he/she has been signing up for real cash prizes, plus they are made for adults only.
That being said, casino games offer a more positive take on investments. Yes, in games like WoWs players will still have bonuses and promo codes that can help throughout the game, but the chances to see any money returns (unless as a prominent content creator) are likely to be zero.
Casino games, however, tell a different story. Aside from scratchcards, every other casino game winnings are pretty straightforward – punters can get a certain amount of cash. And together with bonus codes and promotions, they can gather higher prizes. A good example is Indian casinos – as Asiabet explains, casino bonuses in India are a great way to add extra funds to the bankroll. And they apply to any game a player picks, be it poker, blackjack, slots, or Teen Patti. Using them in the right way, anyone will get the chance, not only to maximize the cash winnings and winning more than investing, but also to play games for free.
It seems like a total opposite from in-game loot boxes – players get the bonus, to win the cash prize and witness the return of the money they invested. With loot boxes, the money spent to build the character and the game is forever lost. That’s where the problem lies. Games are just that – games, and they should use fake money. And this is one of the reasons why we see more and more players turning their back to games like World of Warships.
Will Wargaming regain the trust of the gaming community after the World of Warships debacle? That remains to be seen, as does the future of loot boxes as an option for in-app purchases.