The stagnation of World of Tanks

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World of Tanks has been one of the biggest free-to-play games in the world since its 2010 release on a Russian server, and subsequent 2011 inauguration throughout Europe and North America. It remains a juggernaut of gaming today, even if the past two years have been less than kind.

The current situation for World of Tanks is not all bad. Player numbers in the Russian Cluster are huge and the game has a healthy following in all other regions, including the EU. However, growth has stagnated, and some regions have even shown declining numbers. Today I’m going to go over some of the old issues plaguing the game, which likely account for some of its current problems.

The Tutorial problem

The first major issue, which applies mainly to new gamers, is the lack of an in-depth tutorial. The basic one that is offered introduces some of the main mechanics of the game, but it’s barely enough to cover the advanced tactics needed to win firefights against armored opponents, let alone brief players on reading the map or scouting.

Now make no mistake – a long and in-depth tutorial may bore players as well as slightly reduce the enjoyment of learning more advanced moves (such as side scraping and reverse side scraping) on the battlefield, by yourself or by watching others.

The problem, though, is that even with the added simple bots, numerous tips and guides, players new to World of Tanks start at a pronounced disadvantage and can be easily crushed by any experienced player, which in turn may make them stop playing the game. World of Tanks may be simple to play, but it’s extremely hard to master.

Tiers 4-7

Finding balance in such a complex game is no easy task. World of Tanks has 10 nations, most of which have five classes of vehicles, and many of those are real world machines or prototypes. This means there are over 400 vehicles of war in the game, so I don’t hold it against the developers for having imperfect balance.

In fact, the general balance of tiers 1-3 and 8-10 is workable, if faulty and with many exceptions. However, there is a bigger problem: the middle tiers representing five through seven, which are where most players spend their time, have a serious case of terrible tier for tier scaling.

The difference in power between a Tier 5 and 7 machine or a Tier 4 and 6 is far greater than the difference between a Tier 8 and 10 tank. For a more practical in-game example, lets imagine we have two Tier 8 Panther 2 tanks facing off against their Tier 10 equivalent – the E 50M (weak edition). Depending on the skill level of the opposing parties and where they engage, this battle can go either way. Yes sure, the Tier 10 is better in pretty much every way, but it doesn’t have twice the DPM or health points or speed. The Panthers are in a bad position individually, but they can win this battle, even if only barely. At the very least they can bloody the E 50M’s nose.

How would a tier 5 and 7 version of this battle play out? For that matter, how would two T-34s engage a T-43 or KV-13? They obviously can try, but the only way they are winning a full HP fight is if both drivers are far more skilled than the opponent and the location favors them, plus they cooperate well. That is really the only way to fight a machine with more HP than theirs combined, more armor and more damage per shot.

WoT-1-comparison

Of course, there are exceptions where the tier 4-7 balance can work, and I understand some vehicles are actually made to bully lower tier vehicles (such as the T14 heavy for example). That is a valid game design choice and it adds to the game, overall. But the general situation is just not good and can make grinding or playing random battles in tiers 4-7 very unenjoyable. That some of the most important historical engines of war occupy these tiers doesn’t help much, either!

The Premium Tank spam!

Premium vehicles were once handled well. They were never exactly overpowered (or at least not due to their stats) and mostly included experimental or weird machines, one-off prototypes and paper designs as well as captured tanks.

Unfortunately, Wargaming has been spamming these tanks en masse for two years now. And they don’t even do it very well, as some of the machines are arguably overpowered.

The choice of premium machines is also somewhat questionable at times. Whilst funky prototypes, even nonsensical ones like the Type-59 Patton, make good pics for a premium, other vehicles may have been possible entries into other nation tech trees (like the 58 Mutz) or different tech tree lines in their own respective nations.

Almost every single patch introduces new premium vehicles, sometimes more than one. Most players find it exhausting to be subjected to this endless bombardment. Wargaming needs to tone it down, carefully consider what is and isn’t premium tank material and make sure to release them so they’re balanced and fair.

WoT-Screenshot-1

Questionable or lazy balancing decisions.

Remember when I said that apart from the tier-to-tier balance between T4-T6, the game is decent? I stand by that, but there are many issues with the way the developers handle balancing even there.

First, their balancing process is overly reliant on statistics and data and pays too little attention to vehicle role, player skill, and secondary statistics (such as how experienced the crews are). For example, vehicles with simple gameplay that attract many players can get buffed due to low global statistics, despite being good vehicles. An example of this is the ever-popular IS-3, a solid vehicle that is the first choice for many new players and is an all-round great machine. Unfortunately, due to the number of newer players using it, its global statistics are fairly low, which has led developers to buff the vehicle, even if slightly, fairly often. This has a knock-on effect, making more inexperienced players flock to the now slightly overpowered machine and the cycle repeats.

Other questionable decisions include the existence of soft stats which can significantly modify tank effectiveness (not a problem), but cannot be seen in the garage or the game proper (a problem). Instead, players need to go to third party sites to see this information, which may be vital for their vehicle’s performance. And lastly, a sensible pet peeve from one of my acquaintances: the balancing decisions can be lazy and make no sense, harming the little remaining historical authenticity for no reason. For example, when buffing the IS-7 heavy tank, Wargaming decided to focus on mobility. No problem, the machine has a powerful engine but terrible soft statistics, which kept it in check. All it had to do was buff those too, and it would have made the machine more mobile. Instead, they invented a new, made up engine, while keeping almost the same hidden soft statistics. It really makes no sense at all. It is little things like this that bug out some people’s inner game designers and damage the little remaining authenticity.


I have two hopes here: that you have enjoyed this article, and that the developers start working with the fiery passion they had when they first brought the game out. Just as surely as World of Tanks has always had its faults and issues, Wargaming has fixed a number of them, but the past two years have seemed to paint a more cynical picture—one that’s less respectful to the game and consumers. That being said, all the problems are addressable, and World of Tanks isn’t dying, but a little passion and effort goes a very long way when supporting great games!

Finally, I would like to thank Alexander Yordanov for his help with making sure my historical information was on point! He is an excellent tank geek as well as writer!

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66 thoughts on “The stagnation of World of Tanks

      1. So 132 pen on a Tiger I vs a Maus is what you saying? Because when it was historically accurate. It had +5 MM. If they did keep much of the historical accuracy. Then half the guns, turrets and what not would be gone. And most tanks would have to go down a tier or two to even work. Tbh I’m fine with historical accuracy going aside for balance. WOT never claimed to be a tank sim. It’s an arcade game after all. If that’s what you are looking for, then WT has a bigger focus on that. And I’m fine with that, so that not both games are alike.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. There is an amount of game play variance needed or else you end up like WT where Shermans are facing Tiger IIs, Panthers, IS-2, and T-44 which almost always ends poorly for the American tanks.

          However, what WG has done is going to far. Changing pen rates by random number of mm (Like 153mm pen on this gun or that instead of 150) is overdoing it.

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        2. 132 pen on the Tiger I was never historically accurate and WG still refuses to convert the 30-degree plate tests to the 0-degree format–IE, the penetration value in game is how much penetration you’d have vs a 30 degree plate, even though the game considers every pen value as vs 0 degree.

          So, to reiterate–yes, historical accuracy was better for the game.

          Liked by 1 person

        3. Actually… The 132mm figure comes from a Soviet penetration chart that has come into question in its validation for extraordinary low numbers. British figures and German, iirc, give it around 145mm like in wot. Then the Tiger I received an alternative AP shell with less HE filler, but higher penetrative performance of around 160mm.

          Another example of the low penetration figures for German guns on the Soviet penetration chart is the infamous 168mm of penetration at 100 meters of the 8,8cm L/71.

          Both British and German figures give 200mm at 1000 meters or 230mm at 100 meters.

          In reality, WG has historically buffed the Tiger and could give it an alternative AP shell with higher penetrative performance

          Edit: Let me make a correction. I’m not entirely sure where the 132mm figure came from (probably 30 degree figure), but the soviet penetration chart shows 120mm @ 100 meters at an angle of 90 degrees from the horizontal.

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      1. I agree completely. With the new balance team in charge Wot will never ever make a return to that system though, or at least i dont see it happening.

        Trust me i want nothing more than to continue helping WG to bring a full Swedish tech tree to the game, but now that the tanks are no longer even slightly representative of what they are based on i would just help bring more fake tanks into the game.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. true, reducing alpha damage and increasing the HP pool for all tiers would give Armour a new life without needing unhistorical overbuffs
        it would also work in favor of grabing more new players that at this point play for 2 or 3 hours and are faced with tier 4 and 5 derps that one-shot them, and then there’s tier 1, how do you want players to learn the basics if their HP is only enough to last 3 or 4 shots from some same tier weapons

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  1. It’s not in WG’s interest to make the tutorial better. Sure, it’d lead to a more educated and better able playerbase but someone who carries out their own research is more likely to continue playing because they don’t want to feel that they wasted their time. An improved tutorial would lessen the need for additional learning as well as put off more casual players who’d look at the time it takes and not bother.

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  2. None the less, very good article. Too bad Wargaming devs doesnt give this, and others blogs, the attention they deserve (many of us are listen here and we discuss this and that) and prefer to look at stats. Yesterday I heard someone saying supertesters are 48%ers. Donno if its true or not but sometimes, when we see the changes they made to a tank, after the first supertester, one cannot wonder what kind of weed are they on about.

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  3. Call me a pessimist but Wargaming ain;t going to change their attitude any time soon.
    Back in the days, before Rubicon, the company still seemed to be in that sort of mindset of an enthusiastic development team that came from of the spurt of their first successful release two years earlier.

    World of Tanks grew lager in 2015 and then came the sort of a turning point linearly to their respective increase in yearly revenue.
    Wargaming started to more actively develop new other game titles and the development teams composition of WoT changed a lot in recent years.

    This was also the time where one could notice the changing in decision making at the Wargaming and in the WoT project.
    In that the development focus, of the WoT project, shifted more to content that benefited revenue gain MORE than increasing the gameplay quality and development of said quality of game play.

    Management wise it shifted from a PROJECT, to a PRODUCT.
    A product can be actively used to gain revenue and need less development that if it were in the project state.

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  4. WoT has become ridiculously complicated and “powercreeped”, even for a veteran player – especially if you’ve taken a break from the game for any reason.

    I’ve played since Alpha, and have legacy accounts on EU, RU, NA and Asia. However I switched to WoWS about a year ago, as WoT was becoming exasperatingly unrealistic – more of a run-and-gun FPS than a supposed tank combat game*.

    When i occasionally drop back into WoT, I’m immediately aware that I am now playing at a disadvantage – current players have better equipment (from bonds, etc), better tanks (limited availability super-premiums) – and that my formerly competitive array of vehicles is now mostly useless.

    The game appears to have a high barrier to entry for new players, and a one-way exit for those wishing to take a break.

    * I recently played about 20 games on Sandbox. I don’t think I had more than three games that lasted longer than four minutes. Tactics, terrain, armour, positioning all seem increasingly irrelevant.

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    1. Man……You know me better than myself
      I decided to leave WoT for WoWs and i dont think of going back
      I wish i could go back to tanks I made good friends there but i find that is almost impossible with all the…..things

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  5. YES! this is the kind of stuff that we need more of. I really liked the way he brought up the is7 engine situation because that is exactly what happened to my Swedish tanks (as in they could have easilly been balanced with soft stats but they just faked everything instead). Its really nice to see that somebody is concerned about how the game is being balanced.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I think you have made it pretty clear that you dont really care for me or my content. I remeber at least 3 occations where you posted stuff from me and renhanxue (like the swedish ship drawings for example) and then refused to give us any credit after we called you out on it. Then there was the time you came into my european tank thread when i just made an off hand comment about a video you had reposted. https://i.imgur.com/XDUTAYy.jpg

        But I might actually concider your offer this time, if only because the state of rsr.

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  6. I stopped reading after the author stated that tiers 1-3 and 8-10 are more balanced than 4-7.
    I must be playing a whole different game or be a masochist, given that I prefer to play at those middle tiers.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. 3 arty per team, premium ammo spamming, impossible ricochets (like Strv S1 not penning BC12t at less than 15m), impossible misses at point blank range (less than 50m, many less than 10m), hidden stats, RNG like playing the roulette, o actual help from support with frustrating situations like losing a battle in 3 minutes or losing it with less than 5 kills.

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  8. Poorly written whine thread, just like one of the typical 20 or so posts from idiots each day on the general forums. If you don’t like the game then don’t play it but don’t expect the game to change to suit your own personal ‘vision’ WoT is going just as strong now as it always has. Why should thay listen to the squawking of (in the main) totally ignorant plebs on the internet.

    I’d love to see the battlecount of folks who come up with these idiotic articles just to see that they will continue to grow each day. You don’t like it?.. get out, stya out and stop posting garbage.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The point is to get the game to change for the better not to just agree with every change and say this is okay for me and it isnt for you leave. They obviously care about the game if they are writing articles about it.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Tutorial and new player info via the client has always been a bad aspect. The new boot camp is good. But far from ideal. If anything they should look to WOT console on how to do that. They have loading screens with detailed info explaining overmatch and auto bounce etc. Or how to use cover, or how to spot passive and active. That and their tutorial is 10x better then even the boot camp. As they use Mines, and you drive from post to post doing spotting, getting spotted so you know how view range work. Armor, pen, RNG, double bush, you name it.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. It is easy to say “WoT was better two years ago” (even though I kinda agree on it) but such a statement might be biased by Nostalgia.

    For better comparison it would be interesting to see Wargaming putting up a temporary testserver (actually a live server) of some long outdated WoT version, maybe 8.10 (2014), so still before the HD tanks. Acounts would be transfered from the current version to that “old” version with all later added tanks removed from the garage. Economy would stay like on the live server.

    Through productive player feedback the devs could then compare the two versions and analyse where they made improvements to the game and where the game actually got worse (particularly in regards to balance and matchmaking). Without looking through the lenses of nostalgia. They could then adress issues that are only present in the new version more effectively to create a better gaming expirience for everyone.

    Oh would I love to see this…

    Liked by 3 people

  11. «the middle tiers representing five through seven, which are where most players spend their time, have a serious case of terrible tier for tier scaling»
    and the whole US tech tree is the best example of such problem, aggravated because you rarely have 2 consecutive tanks with similar gameplay style

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  12. Disagree on the tutorial part. It’s not that the tutorial is lacking that is the main issue(although it is lacking in ways, there should be additional ones about deeper stuff like in depth camo mechanics) it’s that this is a free to play game that plays a lot differently from other games. The HP system on top of all the RNG and deeper mechanics and the different movement makes the game quite different to play from most games out there.

    Add that to an audience that doesn’t really “care” for a variety of reasons as it’s not only the free to play audience but it’s also generally an older audience that doesn’t seem to feel particularly obligated to perform in a pvp situation and you get the situation in world of tanks.
    A bunch of assholes complaining about other people sucking while most of them are terrible at the game themselves

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I think, there are much other problems as well. For example the gold spam at certain tanks. At the moment i play the tortoise and very many players who see me, spam me with gold. Most of them are just to lazy to aim at the weakspots i guess. Many of them use even gold at the backside or the sides.
    And that is, i think, tied to the WN8. Everyone wants to be the mighty unicum which rekts just everyone. And if there is no enough skill, then there is gold ammo.
    Same with arty. I o´played WoT since 2012- and i never saw more than 3 arties in one team, despite of all the hard caps WoT has done. But if more than one of them focuses a tank like the tortoise, the TD can go to the garage. Even the “Hurr durr, play artysafe” is a joke with 20 kph…

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    1. That falls back on the issue that these tanks that have premium ammo fired at them are typically tough or OP. No one should be sitting 100m away from a tortoise trying to hit its cupola while the Tortoise is DPMing that tank to death. Which also goes back to the corridor map design because no one can flank, which leads to the OP MTs and no-role LTs, which cascades into making HTs stronger, which forces people to shoot Premium ammo….etc etc. It’s an avalanche affect and it’s to the point where WoT needs a hard reset like WOWP just did.

      Put every tank back to beta values and balance tanks that weren’t in the beta off the tanks that were. WG balancing has gone from “good work” to “I like that tank and I want it to be OP so I can enjoy it….great now what have I done.”

      Like

  14. It’s weird article. I would expect to mention the overpowered premium tanks at low tier. About tutorial and low tiers, the infamous Quickybaby, made a proposal which finds me extremely approving. Scale the use of commanders, equipment and consumables by tiers. This helps new players and denies the seal clubbing strongly.
    The new mm, after my experience neglects the +/-1mm. Also the balancing at high tiers can’t happen in 1-2months period, first they have to see if there is an issue and then to balance it properly.
    For me they should go the WoWs way. Remove premium ammo and balance overpowered premium tanks, offering credits and gold to those who don’t want them anymore. Btw in WoWs they nerfed twice ships like M.Kutuzof during global changes. None gone against, I believe the same will happen with the e25 and the defender if they go this way. The fact that there are two many premiums doesn’t bothers me. Actually I would prefer to transform your regular tech tree tanks into premiums with skin packs, which might also alter the stats or the nation, why not being able to transform the German T55 into a Polish or a Romanian one? Or the Amx 30B into a Greek version and the M103 into a Turkish one?

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    1. Speaking of the German T-55A, why does it have so low pen on standard ammo compared a T-54? Here I thought when something was upgraded it was to become better.

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  15. Completely agree:
    – Hidden soft stats (do you have ANY idea what did they do with IS-5 bloom!?)
    – LOTS of premium tanks – with hidden stats too as the are not in the tree
    – Epic fails (Defender, Rubicon, etc)
    – RNG protects idiots and disappointing user experience (statistically you will hit around center in 10% of the shots).
    – Balance: get T-150 and face Defender. Once come to that, new player will quit the game.

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  16. In general status were good until 2017, each patch introduce more and more bugs, and micropatches doesn’t fix things at all.

    Then there seem to be some bugs with Wwise current version (2017-1-1)

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  17. The premium tank argument aside from Defender is nothing to do with balance and everything to do with jealously from those unable to afford them.
    It keep the game running, or do you commies think everything should be free.

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    1. I don’t agree with you…..there are more op tier 8 premium tanks than just Defender……the only difference is nowdays tier 8 tanks play against tier 10s like 80% of the time….and against tier 10 defender holds its own better than others…..but for the sake of argument lets say you end up in tier 8 battle: would you do better in T32 or Patriot? Scorpion or Borsig? Liberte or KV4?Bulldog or Black Bulldog?Defender or IS3 ?

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    2. I agree with you. Premiums are not the problem, OP tanks are. I don’t care if 20 out of 30 tanks in a single game are premiums and I don’t care if they release reskinned vehicles als premiums, as long as it doesn’t fuck up the gamebalance.

      It’s what keeps the game running, I don’t have any kind of problem with WG monetizing their game. However, it shouldn’t be pay2win.

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  18. For me the biggest part of frustration is due to obviously overpowered and underpowered tanks, corridor maps, being bottom tier all the time and goldammo.

    It’s so easy, just nerf OP tanks, buff UP tanks, make more maps like Steppes and reduce the damage of goldammo. 25% more pen, 25% less damage, or something like that.

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    1. Yeah, same here. Haven’t played for 3 months, but mainly because of a trip to the USA and having bought a new house. However, I can’t say that I miss the game at this point. Too many things wrong with it.

      If the HD maps get released I give it another try.

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  19. Everyone is missing the point here. What the game really needs is more emojis! So you can private message the arty that stunned you for 2 minutes with the devil face😈😈😈😈

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They made the new engine because the IS-7 wasn’t supposed to be able to turn well (supposed to feel like it has weight behind it), people bitched, WG caved, and now it’s more mobile and still has OMG armor.

      The tier 10 SOVIET MTs are OP as fuck. That’s why you see only (mostly) them used in CW instead of other tanks like the M48, Leo, and AMX 30B. All tier 10 MTs use to have advantages and drawbacks. Now though, Soviet MTs have all the advantages and none of the drawbacks while all the other nations are still decently balanced.

      This is another instance of WG caving to bitching.

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  20. Actually, after over 20,000 battles with a minimum of financial resources, I’m getting bored of the whole thing. I rarely play. I’m in my 70’sand a former officer in the Second Armored Division HQ. Before that, I was in a Mechanized Infantry Battalion in Korea. The game was become just too damn expensive for me, utilizing hypothetical Premium tanks that never were and are worth a week’s worth of food. The powers that be don’t want us Vets to be “rich”! Finally, having tanks upgraded in the periodical WoT Common then reduced in the next version (eg. the Churchill VIi) is poor player treatment. The inventors and managers of the game are poor consumer managers. Just throwing us an occasional “bone” —a free low tier tank, a female crew member, etc. doesn’t really help. That’s it; I’d write more but I’ve worn myself out!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. For me major problems are
    – OP premiums like defender and scorpion
    – tanks with too much armor and no weakspots forcing same and higher tiers to fire gold ammo, while lower tiers have no way to win the fight at all (type5 and maus lines)
    – tiers up to 7 are only free to play ones, but they make players suffer, they are not fun to play (with exceptions) and no one plays them. So only viable tanks are tier 9 and 10 and premium ones. This reduces variability of the game and makes match making horrible for anything below tier 9. This must be very frustrating for new players or even for old ones who want to grind new lines.

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