With digital collectible card games becoming a “dominant category” (according to SuperData research), it is no wonder that more companies want their share of the pie. One of the more recent newcomers is Wargaming’s World of Tanks Generals, which is currently in open beta.
What makes World of Tanks Generals interesting from a business perspective is that it uses a radically different monetization model than the usual random pack model used in most collectible card games. Coupled with this is a different progression loop model.
Sounds interesting, so let’s take a deeper look.
World of Tanks Generals progression loop
World of Tanks Generals copies its progression loop, as well as its monetization model, from its FPS big brother, World of Tanks (I have written about its monetization model before). Unlike in most collectible card games, it is not possible to buy all cards at once in World of Tanks Generals with real money.
Instead, players earn XP and credits by playing the game. XP enables players to unlock new cards, which can then be purchased with credits. The main card of the deck, HQ, comes in various tiers, and progress through the tiers enables research and purchase of more new cards. This progress through the tech trees of the game cannot be achieved by any other means than playing the game. The only thing real money can help with here is that with real money, it is possible to transfer XP between tech trees and thus play something you are more satisfied with instead of switching as needed for progress.
Also the matchmaking engine of Generals resembles World of Tanks more than usual collectible card games. Instead of a matchmaking system based on player strength (some type of ELO system), the matchmaking is based on deck strength. Each card has a strength value, and the sum of these values determines the deck strength value. The matchmaker then looks for opponents who are queueing with decks in the nearby strength range. What little competitive play there has so far been has been based on rules that determine the tier of the HQ that is used and the top limit for deck strength value.
There are pros and cons to adopting this type of matchmaking system. On one hand, players will not get a feeling that they lost because of superior cards used by the opponent, but on the other hand deck strength based matchmaking makes it possible for experienced players to intentionally hunt newer players by playing a weaker deck – which may not in fact be that weak at all as deck strength measured by the sum of card strengths cannot take synergies into account and an experienced player has all the options open to him to build the best possible decks to any strength range.
World of Tanks Generals monetization
So, there are no random packs for sale, but instead specific cards are researched with XP and then purchased with credits. The monetization elements closely mirror World of Tanks:
- Premium account (subscription): Earn additional 50% XP and credits from battles. It is noteworthy that this subscription is not shared with other Wargaming titles – the official explanation is that Wargaming’s mobile offerings have separate subscriptions and Generals is a mobile offering as it is currently available on PC and iOS and coming to Android, with all the platforms able to access the same game account.
- XP to free XP conversion: XP cannot be bought, but XP earned with a single HQ can be converted to free XP with real money and thus used to speed up progress on other tech trees, even skipping entire HQs.
- Premium cards: Cards that can be purchased with real money.
- Credit conversion: Credits can be bought with real money.
- Card rental: Some cards can also be rented instead of bought with either real money or credits.
For Wargaming, there are clear advantages to building the monetization model like this: World of Tanks has a huge player base, and having a model that is already familiar to its players can help them pick on a new type of a game. At the same time, this means that the model may not be readily applicable to other developers with different audiences.
One aspect of the model is of particular interest, however, as collectible card games are going digital: card rental. With physical cards, rental is very difficult, but with digital cards, it is simple. This is an aspect that would warrant further evaluation.
So far the game is missing cosmetic additions, such as foils or portraits, which are something digital games usually monetize. The developers have stated that foil cards at least are under evaluation, though.
There are no figures available for Generals yet, neither on the amount of players nor revenue. It has some interesting features that warrant closer monitoring, but their success is as of yet unknown.
Picture is from World of Tanks Generals press kit