World of Warships is a demanding game – in more ways than one. For the purpose of today’s discussion, I will focus on the time demands that the game has on players and what that all entails.
There are a multitude of reasons why this game is so demanding on players time. While no one makes anyone play this game, the incentives certainly draw many of us in like moths to a lantern. These of course include ‘freebies’ like doubloons, coal, ships, containers, captains, etc. Camaraderie, like what one can find in a good clan as well as certain accolades across several platforms both sponsored directly by Wargaming and World of Warships as well as other sites such as those focus on stats. While most, if not all of this doesn’t have to cost you a penny, it will cost you hours upon hours of time to achieve. This is a ‘grindy’ game after all.
To dive more into what players grind for, I’ll start with the basic premise of the game – going up the tech trees. In order to advance to the next ship or tier in a tech tree line, a player must ‘grind’ through games to both accumulate the experience and the in game currency – credits – to both research and purchase the necessary minimum upgrades to unlock and then purchase the next ship. For an average player, this can take over a hundred games at the higher tiers and with battles that can last up to 20 minutes, that adds up quickly. Consider further that that is just for one ship, not the whole line or even every tech tree line. Time consuming as this may be, this is what tends to being many players back day after day, to accomplish the next grind for that next tier X ship.
The next aspect of the ‘grind’ that I want to examine is the events, of which there have been many recently. Often, the rewards for these events are doubloons, coal, or special tokens that you can exchange for things in the Armory. It’s these things in the Armory though that lead to such long grinds. While player can and often do open their wallets to purchase crates than can contain tokens, many just play for free to reap the rewards which have included unique ships or commanders available in no other way or at no other time. Some might even be considered overpowered. Be that as it may, the requirements for purchase these rewards often require players to play several hours a day for the entire duration of the event – often about 2 weeks – in order to accumulate the currency required to do so. In the best of circumstances where you can maintain a positive winrate, this is time consuming but it can be worth it in the end.
Finally, the last aspect of the grindy and time consuming nature of the game is the alternating competitive modes that allow players to earn Steel, Copper and Molybdenum. Limited resources as they are, they allow players to purchase very ‘competitive,’ often top tier ships. Like the event grinds though, these games modes, which include Ranked and Clan Battles, require players to play on a very regular, even scheduled basis to get the most out of them. While this can be beneficial in terms of the outcome, it is also very limiting, and that’s where the problems start to arise.
Problems with the Grind
If you’re one of those players that is just ‘good’ or even exceptional at nearly every game you play and you’re between the ages of 14 (let’s say) and 23 – the grind is a non-issue. You have time on your hands to put into the game (though perhaps not the money) and the skill to get the most out of every minute you spend. However, World of Warships is NOT Fortnite or any of those other games that tends to cater to that age group, though they are clearly represented. World of Warships, with its Free to Play and almost gambling model that relies more on tactical forethought with a focus on naval history and strategy rather than twitch reflex and young eyes to pick up the smallest of moving pixels on a 4K monitor, is more tailored to the 20 to even 40 somethings with more expendable income. That is where the problem lies. This population distribution, which based upon some player polls1 2 and other surveys3 represents the mean and mode age group for World of Warships, are often shorter on time to spend on an online game. Why? They have jobs which allows them to have that expendable income, but more importantly, they have families. While the older subset of this demographic, typically the 40+ age group, have a bit more freedom due to the fact that their kids are older and might even join them in playing, those that are in their mid 20’s to mid 30’s have the younger families they require more attention, particularly if they want to keep them. The later subset is the group that represents the mode age group for the game. These are also the individuals that were some of the founders of the online gaming era that started in the early 2000’s. We came into it at the right age and have been hooked ever since – good news, bad news.
So why is this a problem you ask? Burn out. As we get more and more stuff thrown at us we start to get burned out and out play time dwindles. Less time on the game, less money spent on the game. Moreover, due to maturity and leadership experience due life experience, it’s typically the older players that run and organize many of the events and clans. As they leave due to burn out, so too do these groups. With all this talk of burn out, what is Wargaming to do, if anything?
Solutions to the Grind and Burn Out
A large part of the fun of this game is the grind – and blowing stuff up. Who doesn’t like blowing stuff up? With that being said, I would not change the model for grinding up a tech tree. What I would like to see changed in the grace period between events and competitive modes as well as the rewards that are offered for each. First off, no reward for a grindy event should be so good that it’s a must have to be competitive. Fun and unique sure, but not so far out of reach in terms of time vs money/paywall that an average player with average time commitments can’t achieve it. Secondly, events such as the previous French Arc, should not correspond so tightly with competitive modes like Ranked. This again comes down to time commitments. Do I play for the unique French commander or for the Steel to unlock Stalingrad? While I’m not opposed to an overlap of some degree as there are only so many days in a year, an overlap of entirety is just too hard. Finally, the grace periods between these events should be increased. Let players have some time off to either just play, or grind through a new line, maybe even enjoy some of the new content that is introduced monthly. Sometimes we just need a breather – from work, from life, from whatever. And for those of us that tend to use this game AS that breather, we shouldn’t need one from it as well. Reduce the pressure to be on for several hours a day, every day and you might see some player attitude changes as well as increased spending. But that’s just my 2-cents.