TL;DR: Wargaming needs to manage in-game currency inflation better. Lets talk about what can be done. Would love WG to comment on how they are managing the various currencies, and justification for some of the increases in price, especially around Steel
So I wrote something up on the WOWS forums, but it disappeared while in draft. I figured I'd rather discuss it here anyway.
So lets talk about this. For background, Extra Credits has posted a number of relevant videos in the past around this topic. Now World of Warships isn't an MMO, but I think the videos are still relevant.
So let's get down to it!
The prices for ships for the various in-game currencies is going up, and will continue go up, but in some cases it seems more justifiable than others. For some of the currencies, there are definitely new faucets added to the game, which devalue the currency, but not a lot of new sinks. For those who don't know, faucets are how money enters a game and sinks are how it leaves the game. If the flow from faucets outweighs the drain from sinks, the player has too much money and it loses its perceived value. A bit more info in this article.
I won't go into too much depth with silver, since it seems pretty balanced. Silver is used to purchase tech tree line ships, modules, and upgrades. While you're grinding up the lines, you're constantly playing games to earn silver to be able to buy and outfit the next ship in the line. Once you're done that however, you can have hundreds of millions of silver just sitting around, with nothing to spend it on. We do need more sinks for silver, especially for players who are in the endgame and have played up the lines and earned all Tier X ships. The addition of new lines will give those players more things to spend on. The upcoming French DD and Russian BB lines are new sinks introduced that will use silver.
I don't think we see a lot of inflation in silver – there is just a lot in the game. Module cost isn't going up, neither is ship purchase values. If we start seeing this change, then that would be something to worry about.
Wargaming also added some ability to use silver to in the Armory to purchase flags. One idea that has been thrown around is a large value silver ship. A premium/freemium ship that costs 100,000,000 silver, for example – to give those holding onto a lot of silver something to spend it on. Just something to think about.
FreeXP is the most obvious example of this. It is an uncapped faucet since you can obtain it just from playing more matches and doing better in those matches. Farming FreeXP in Operations is a popular pastime for some. The limitation on getting FreeXP is basically how many matches you can play in a day.
However the amount of FreeXP you can obtain has increased drastically. When the Missouri was available for purchase, getting 750,000 FXP was a pretty large task. It could take 6-9 months. There wasn't much you could do to increase your FreeXP per match other than increasing base XP with Equal Charlie London, Papa Papa flags, and your perma-camo. Now we have all of the Special flags, special camouflages that give massive FreeXP bonuses, and daily containers that can give 500-1000FXP. We also have FXP bonuses coming from daily login incentives, directives and daily missions.
As far as sinks, these are the purchasable "freemium" ships, like Salem, Musashi, Kronshtadt and now Azuma. FXP is also multi purpose, since it can also be used to speed up the grind for obtaining standard line (silver) ships, modules, and some conversions to Elite Commander XP. There are other "sinks" for FreeXP, which should balance out the devaluation of the currency, but as Wargaming adds more ways to get more FreeXP, there aren't as many things to spend it on, so we see inflation.
The "freemium" ships that were purchaseable for 750,000 FXP are now being offered for 1 Million FXP. I don't think anyone was surprised to see Alaska and Azuma available for 1 Million FreeXP. However, just increasing the cost (increasing the currency sink) isn't a sustainable way of managing the currency. What else can be done to balance this out? Some ideas:
- Introduce cosmetic changes that don't affect gameplay. For example, allowing you to change the name of your captains, or re-roll their appearance.
- Unlocking alternative colors for camouflage that don't provide bonuses to anything.
- Unlocking alternative horn sounds.
Doubloons are tied to a real money value, since they can be purchased through the Premium shop for cash. Doubloons were never tied to any of the other Wargaming currencies, so that has helped keep it separate in value. It gets complicated because doubloons can also be earned in small amounts in game, through daily login incentives, SuperContainers, special event containers, and obtaining duplicate premium ships.
I think Wargaming has done a pretty good job of providing sinks for doubloons. There was a huge increase in doubloons entering the game at the end of last year from the Christmas containers. I think a lot of people were holding onto a lot of doubloons with nothing to spend them on. To counter this, some of the newer events have had doubloon exclusive options. Obtaining the Irian through the Lunar New Year campaign, Obtaining additional Ironium and Space Permacamos in the April Fool's event, ability to purchase Premium Soviet Era containers in the Armory, special captains, etc. The addition of a lot of Premium ships in the Armory for doubloons was also a good addition. So I think this is handled, although I'm not convinced that the offerings are a good value. It's just a way for whales with too many doubloons lying around to get rid of some of them. I think that's the main discussion point. You had a chance of getting Irian through Lunar New Year containers, or you could buy the 3 container sets for doubloons. Was it a good value? At least it was a guaranteed chance to get it.
Coal has been around for a while now, and as an alternative currency, we are already seeing the effects of inflation. At the very least, there is a hard cap on how much coal you can earn per day, so the faucet can be controlled. The "Resources" daily container can give 400-1200 coal per box, and you can earn 200-400 more through daily missions. We have seen a lot of other ways to obtain coal added as well. For example, Directives, ranked sprint, bundling in the Premium shop, special missions such as the Ironium missions. This muddies the water a bit, because there are free and purchaseable ways to obtain coal.
There are a decent amount of coal sinks in the Armory. You can purchase special commanders, unique module upgrades, containers, patches, signals, etc. So there are lots of things to spend your coal on. The problem does seem Wargaming keeps adding new faucets for coal, and inflation continues to occur. We will need to keep an eye on this. The major signs:
- Musashi was 176,000 coal. Jean Bart is 228,000 coal. That's a 30% increase in price between Tier IX Battleships.
- Salem was 180,000 coal. I think we all expect Yoshino to be quite a bit more. It remains to be seen by how much Wargaming increases the cost by for Tier X cruisers.
So finally we get to Steel. This is the one I really want to talk about. Steel is rare in that it can only normally be obtained through competitive gameplay – Ranked and Sprint. It is possible to get Steel through a Supercontainer, but it's also a very rare drop. There are normally not a lot of faucets for Steel, so it is a prized commodity. The Flint, Black, and Stalingrad were transitioned from being earned through competitive play, to through steel. Someone else will have to comment on how many games in CB you were expected to win, or how many times you ranked out in Ranked to obtain these ships. For the Stalingrad, this thread has one image that helps understand the conversion.
Now in terms of other ways of obtaining Steel, this past Christmas holiday, we had a number of alternative ways to obtain Steel:
- In 0.712, we had the Snowflakes event, which allowed you to obtain Steel through playing ships you already own.
- We had the "Nerves of Steel" combat missions to obtain 2019 steel.
- We had the purchaseable "Steel Monsters" campaign.
- We had the "Might of Steel" combat mission that was only available by purchasing the highest Prince Eitel Friedrich bundle.
These were one off events, and are now done, and the Steel that was added to the game through these faucets should have partially been spent. A lot of players converted Steel to Coal to purchase ships, or purchased Stalingrad.
So now that we've seen new ships introduced in the Armory for Steel (Neustrashimy for 20,500 Steel), we can see there is a signifiant increase in cost. This doesn't seem justifiable, since there aren't new permanent Steel faucets added to the game. Does Wargaming think that the holiday events added too much Steel to the game, and the cost for new Steel ships in the Armory is justified? Do they plan on holding more events and making Steel purchasable once again? I think this needs some discussion and explanation. The post from /u/Radar_X seems to indicate they believe Steel has been a currency long enough to need an adjustment. I'd like to know more.
So what can be done for Steel to control inflation? I think it's important to do this, as Steel is already so difficult to obtain, and historically has only been accessible to those in competitive play. Restricting Steel to just Clan Battles and Ranked, and other competitive play is one method. Not offering Steel again for purchase through the Premium shop, or through special events is another. Tightly controlling the faucets for Steel seems like something that can be done. Regardless of players crying for more ways to earn Steel outside of competitive, this is something Wargaming should be very careful about opening up.
This post doesn't really get into the temporary currencies that are introduced through Directives. Since they are temporary, we have to keep in mind the earning potential for these currencies will vary from event to event. We'll just have to keep an eye on what we are able to purchase with them, and if they seem like they are worth it. Doing short term temporary currencies for each event seems like a good way to prevent inflation, since there is no build up of these currencies, and they reset frequently.
This post also doesn't get into the special currencies like Copper and Molybdenum, which are rewards for the extremely competitive players. My understanding is those are mostly used for special camouflages for ships like Black and Flint. They do have some in game bonuses that make them superior to other permanent camouflages, but they aren't extremely overpowered – they're mostly cosmetic and a status symbol due to their rarity.
Phew! So that's a monster post. Hope to see lots of good feedback and discussion!
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