With many games, particularly grindy games like WoWS and WoT, the discussion of power creep tends to come into play. As content gets added and the game grows and progresses the developers have to introduce new features and content to keep the player base content. However, the inherent consequence of this tends to be power creep. Some of the most recent lines, as an example, are noticeably superior to their original counterparts. Good or bad, this leads the developers to constantly buff and nerf ships to keep them on par with those at the same level. Though I won’t deny that power creep exists – it most certainly does – what this article is here to discuss is how much of the statistical difference between old and new ships is due to power creep and not skill creep.
What are These ‘Creeps’?
Simply put, power creep is the result or side effect of developers adding new features and content into the game that outperforms the original content. In a free to play game like World of Warships, you need a way to keep your community base interested and adding new content is one of the best ways. It’s an inherent cause and effect relationship that many gamers have just come to accept. However, in the case of World of Warships, skill and knowledge play a huge roll in my opinion. With a game like WoWS, due to its multiple mechanics, when you first start there is a noticeable learning curve. As you progress through the game though, you will learn many of these mechanics (hopefully), further increasing your skill. Further, if you are one of those players who decides to grind down a single line or maybe 2 at first until the end, your stats should be better on your subsequent lines compared to your first. This is the first part of power creep. When you then through in thousands of players that have played from the beginning, thus are experienced and knowledgeable, one would expect them to do significantly better on newly introduced ships than new players. More importantly, these more experienced players will also be some of the first to play mid and upper tier ships compared to the newer population. If you were to look at my stats, for example, on my Montana, which was my very first tier 10, my WTR for the life of the ship is 1255.54 – not too bad. However, if you were to look at the stats for the last year roughly, that number is about 1567 – I’ve gotten better. As my first tier 10, I played it A LOT, but even though I ground through the line, I did not know the things I know now about the game and its mechanics and ever evolving play-style. This ‘skill creep’ will also explain why, for those that pay attention to their stats, your PR or WTR will change for a newly introduced ship, even if you don’t play it. Other players begin to play it and as a result, have in impact (usually negative) on the averages for that ship. Thus, if you were good in it to begin with, your score increases.
So which is it?
Quite honestly, it’s both – both power creep and skill creep have an impact in determining a ships statistical performance which can ultimately result in a nerf or buff. As far as making a determination on ratio, that’s hard to tell. With some ships, the Conqueror as an example, power creep was a HUGE factor when it was first publicly released. Though skill did take part as the best players knew how to take advantage of her strengths and avoid her weaknesses. In this instance though, power creep held the majority of the issue and WG recognized this. This is evident (to me at least) as they waited just long enough to nerf it to have a better player distribution playing it to make that determination. On the other hand, the Kurfurst was a skill creep. Statistically it out performed both the Montana and Yamato at first (on paper, it still does when ALL data is considered – again that skill creep), but as players learned its weaknesses and discovered how to counter her strengths, she came into par with the Monty and Yammy without a nerf or buff.
Much like the nature vs nurture debate (for all those who took Psych 101), the statistical performance of new ships is a mix of both power creep and skill creep. So far and overall, WG has been able to identify and separate these two when they decide to make buffs or nerfs. However, some of the avenues that they have taken to address these balance issues should be reviewed again or perhaps more thoroughly tested as I feel they did not quite hit the mark, but those are other topics.
I hope this article sheds some light on why it may take WG so long to rebalance a ship. They need the data, and not just data from the top 10 or 15% of the player population.