Crates, Large Holiday Boxes, Gift Boxes, Loot Boxes, you can call them what you want but they are here! These first came to World of Tanks in 2017 during the New Years holiday season and it looks like they will be coming for many years after. What really are these crates and what is Wargaming trying to achieve? Could they be yet another way to destroy World of Tanks?
A gamble or a good deal?
Crates are becoming more of a standard in any game nowadays and they still don’t have any kind of regulation in many countries around the World. Child gambling has skyrocketed in the UK and many blame it to games because kids are exposed to gambling while playing Call of Duty and Battlefield for example and these business models became very lucrative for Game Developers. But while lucrative, they are cloudy and questionable because of the lack of regulation and transparency and developers try to disguise them as a good deal, mainly because you get more value when compared to what you paid.
Of course, Wargaming wants a piece of the pie and having a more mature player base they can easily cash in more money than other games. Adults having their own income and having less time to play will easily give in cash to either get a rare vehicle, extra goods or to grind through a collection quicker.
Having a crate system isn’t new to Wargaming as we all know, they first appeared in World of Warships where players can get them for free by just playing the game. It’s true these aren’t gambling since you get them for free and you try your luck to get extra in-game goods, although they are already doing something to your subconscious, they make your mind more welcoming to gamble.
A simple system like that doesn’t harm the game, actually reward players for playing and I wouldn’t mind seeing it in World of Tanks too. The problem starts with when you have to pay for a crate. World of Warships has a mix of crates you can pay money for, the simplest version is Premium Container, these usually are linked with a specific in-game Collection and enables players to get two collection items, a number of camouflages and a random bonus Signal Flags.
A small controlled gamble that is easily accepted by a player, mainly because all they are doing is buying the collection items and getting an extra also available for free in-game or separately in the Premium Shop.
Are these crates bad for World of Warships? In my opinion, no, these are a kind of crates I can see players buying just for the simple reason of completing a collection and not actually to gamble for a reward. If a system like this was ever introduced to World of Tanks, where players could get a collection item and a bunch of Premium Consumables, it wouldn’t be harming the game by creating a pay-to-win system, because players could get these for free anyway. But these systems take us to what it’s, in my honest opinion, the most toxic gambling system ever in gaming history – Santa Gifts and Holiday Ops Boxes.
World of Warships on-going holiday event offers players the opportunity to buy three different kinds of crates called Santa Gift, the bigger the gift the better the rewards. These rewards are all highly desirable items of bigger value when compared to the price, but the player also has a chance to get 1 from 56 Premium ships. Using Premium ships has a decoy to get players to spend money, to get them to test their luck and see if they can get that one Premium ship they want is amazingly wrong.
World of Tanks also has an on-going holiday event that offers players the opportunity to buy what is called Large Boxes. These boxes also have guaranteed rewards in them from a list, but again the player has a chance of getting 1 from 7 Premium tanks and here is where the case gets even worse, Wargaming intentionally used broken/overpowered vehicles to lure players to these boxes.
You might not agree, but I strongly believe that when a player buys a crate with a random item from a list but also has a completely random chance of getting a very desirable item, is in fact gambling. Trying to disguise crates with the wording good deal for value is a despicable tactic, the idea that because you aren’t losing money can justify Wargaming to do this kind of events is implicitly depraved and repugnant.
Toxic or not?
The question remains, are these toxic for the game or not? The answer is quite simple, at least for me, all you need to do is see what kind of impact this has on the game. I’ll focus my attention on World of Tanks, but all I’m going to argue can easily be applied to World of Warships too.
First, how does Wargaming promote the crate system for the event? They use and abuse the word guaranteed. The constant promotion of the event selling the idea that players get a guaranteed prize is a good deal, especially if the prize can be a highly desired Premium tank.
Second, Wargaming doesn’t share a single statistic on your chances of winning any of the guaranteed prizes. You know you will win two ornaments and 250 Gold, but that’s it. That is right, you are going in blind and you will never know if you have 1%, 3%, 1 out of 100 boxes, etc. What most players do is either guess what the chances could be or just go all in with their luck.
The idea is to lure a buyer by creating an illusion you can get that desired prize at any moment. Everyone who buys one of these crates has high expectations to get one of the Tier VIII Premium tanks, they don’t care about the ornament they are getting in the box, no, all they want is the adrenaline rush of seeing that video showing a Tier VIII Premium tank rolling down the snow into his garage.
Third and not last, broken problematic tanks. Now you might say – “Broken is a question of perception.“, to what I’ll urge you to have a look at the E 25, Object 252U Defender and IS-3A. The sneaky German tank destroyer E 25 was removed from the Premium Shop because, on Wargaming own words – “…this popularity means that the total number of E 25s being used is steadily increasing, which leads to an increase of imbalanced battles among its tier scope.”, meaning Wargaming is fully aware this tank is problematic to the game.
Object 252U Defender, yet another classic example, the tank isn’t even sold normally in the European region and on other regions is rarely sold because it has such broken armour that players have a love/hate relationship with the tank. While it doesn’t perform that amazingly well against high Tiers, it can easily dominate a lower Tier battle and no one can do much against him.
You now might question this last point, but instead of thinking you will be getting Tier X battles 75% of the time, think about those players on Tier VI that get Tier VIII battles 75% of their time, how fair is to them to have to face a tank like this in a Tier VI? And don’t forget, it has an overall Win Rate of 54%, higher than any other Tier VIII tank, a clear sign something is wrong.
And don’t even get me started with the IS-3A, from a weakling tank that no one wanted in their garage, one of the worse ever selling Soviet heavy tanks, to become a powerhouse of destruction to all tiers. Wargaming brilliant idea of creating an IS-3, with an IS-5 gun with no drawbacks at all. Good armour, amazing shell velocity, 3 shells in a brand new auto-reloader system that takes less time to reload the fewer shells you have loaded. The only balancing factor? Matchmaking. Wargaming expects to balance this tank throwing him against Tier X most of the time.
This beast of a tank, while does have bad accuracy and it’s slower than a regular IS-3, can destroy anything in its path most of the battles, even at Tier X, it can perform quite well. And the cherry on top of the cake, how do you introduce a tank broken like this? Crates, make it available only in crates, to make it even more desirable.
So back to our question – are these crates toxic? Yes, of course they are. Crates bring out our greed to get pay-to-win content, destroy our moral values in the hopes of getting that good deal for value, without even considering what impact these might have in the game. In short, crates make the same player who complains about Pay-to-Win, overpowered tanks or bad matchmaking, willing to spend money so they also can have an edge over their enemies.
My position, my stand!
Of course, all said before is only my opinion, I don’t expect you to agree and neither do I ask you to agree with me. All I want is to share my thoughts, my feelings about a game that I’m passionate about, that I’m not tired of playing the game, but frustrated with Wargaming decisions and the direction of the game.
Wargaming offered 200 crates to all Community Contributors, from European and North American regions and I’ve made the decision of not accepting them. As far as I know, please do correct me if I’m wrong, I might have been the only Contributor that made this decision. Why? Because I couldn’t take something from Wargaming that I despise, that I believe is destroying World of Tanks, that I believe is a pure disgusting gambling exploit to the player base, or like one of my favourite characters says loath entirely! (Grinch).
I simply didn’t think it would be decent of me to take 200 crates, make an article or video or stream opening them, just to later criticize Wargaming. If I made an article or video showing me opening crates, I would be creating expectations in you, I would create a temptation for you to buy crates and see if you would be as lucky as me. I simply couldn’t have that in my consciousness.
What can be done to improve?
The hardest part is trying to improve all this, trying to actually have a fun event that isn’t exploiting the player base. First of all, I believe Wargaming should never offer Premium vehicles in crates, mainly because that is the number one reason anyone would try to gamble 5€ in three boxes to try their luck.
Second of all, show the chances of winning any of the prizes so the buyer can make an informed decision. Would you buy a crate know you have 1% chance of getting an extra prize? At least this way, anyone who would fall for the temptation of gambling away, would most probably think twice before they made the purchase.
Make the focus of these event crates the ornaments, not a list of Premium tanks. Players should buy crates because they don’t have time to grind all the ornaments, not to get prizes. Make a similar approach World of Warships has with Premium Containers. Players would get the ornaments and a few extra goods that can be also bought in the Premium Shop on their own. Finally, introduce some nice Styles or Camouflages that can be earned with crates, but also make them available in-game for either Credits or Gold.
These are of course just some ideas, but I think they are enough to understand how we could have a fun event, that isn’t introducing more broken vehicles or exploiting gambling in the game. Is this an unreasonable request?
I would love to hear your opinions, please leave your ideas and thoughts in the comment section.