Wargaming.net's World of Tanks, a free-to-play tank skirmish game, seems all but certain to cement the F2P model as the way of the future. With more than 20 Million players, around 25-30% of which are prepared to stump up cash for premium items, the game now generates monthly profits in the "double digit" millions.
"If you count the last year and a half, we might be the fastest growing company ever, headcount wise and revenue wise," Wargaming CEO Victor Kislyi told GamesIndustry. "When you see the numbers of Twitter, Facebook or even Google for a year and half we probably outperformed them."
Success for the studio has come by focusing on doing everything - from developing to publishing the game - internally, a strategy the team determined that they needed to adopt early on. After approaching "all" of the major publishers, Wargaming realized that they didn't want to be part of someone else's portfolio. "We'd be struggling," Kislyi said, "World of Tanks has 400 people working on just one game. Some publishers aren't that big with multiple projects."
Meanwhile, World of Warcraft - another big player in the massively multiplayer space, albeit one that requires a monthly subscription to play - has seen its once legendary subscriber base begin to fall, recently dipping to 10 Million players from a high of 12 Million a couple of years ago.
When asked about gamers "paying to win", referring to the fact that World of Tanks players can purchase more powerful equipment for real money, Kislyi was pragmatic; "Of course if you want to win a tournament, if you're competitive, if you play clan wars, if you want to be at the top, we think it's appropriate to expect a little bit of money from you because you already spent hundreds of hours in our game and that's much more than the value of any $50 box. But it's still a micro transaction game, you would have to be very creative to spend $1000."
Is F2P the future? Which do you prefer, subscription-based games or the new wave of "free" games with micro-transaction options? Let us know in the comments!