The majority of World of Tanks players on PC never spend a penny on the free-to-play strategy game and this trend isn't expected to change for the Xbox 360 version, released worldwide today. Wargaming CEO Victor Kislyi told GameSpot during a launch event last night in San Francisco that the studio is expecting the numbers to be "pretty much the same" at around 75 percent of people choosing not to pay.
Of course, Kislyi would like to see that percentage rise, but he's not willing to alter the World of Tanks experience in such a way that players are punished for not spending money. Players are too smart to fall for this kind of deception, he said.
"You cannot fool [non-paying players] for a long time. You can fool a bunch of people, or a lot of people, shortly, but then they realize it's a trap," Kislyi said.
"If you do something wrong, or if you try to be greedy and milk [players for money], people will realize that [and] just start leaving [negative] feedback."
If Wargaming were to introduce measures that negatively affect the experience for non-paying members, this news would spread like wildfire, and that would be bad for the game's image, he said.
"So if you do something wrong, or if you try to be greedy and milk [players for money], people will realize that [and] just start leaving [negative] feedback--not only inside our particular gaming community, but also on Facebook and on Twitter," Kislyi said. "So there is no way you can fool consumers who don't pay money."
The challenge for Wargaming, then, is to design World of Tanks in such a way that players who don't pay can still enjoy the experience, Kislyi said.
"That makes us honest and humble and thinking hard on how to provide a really enjoyable full-scale, all-the-way experience without any velvet ropes or closed doors which you can open only with the golden key, to everyone," he said.
Kislyi pointed out that everything in World of Tanks is attainable through gameplay, meaning the game should be thought of as "free-to-win." If you're a working professional with a family and various work obligations, you might consider paying real money to speed up your gameplay, Kislyi. But this is not required.
World of Tanks is technically "free" on Xbox 360, but you need to have an Xbox Live Gold subscription ($60/year) to play the game. Kislyi said he wishes this wasn't the case, but explained that he's not going to fight Microsoft on this position.
"We have to respect that [requirement]," he said. "Of course, for us it probably would be better if there was no [Xbox Live Gold requirement]. Let's be realistic. [But] If Microsoft [removed the requirement] for us, other publishers would probably be not very happy. We realize we are not in a position to break that kind of business model."
World of Tanks: Xbox 360 Edition, the first console title ever from Wargaming, is available worldwide today. It was developed by Wargaming West, formerly known as F.E.A.R. 3 developer Day 1 Studios. If you don't have an Xbox Live Gold subscription, you can try out the game through a special 7-day trial.