Monetizer

Monetizer: Tank Nation

Wormhole Games launches with bang

Monetizer: Tank Nation

Given its principals' backgrounds - Apple, Google, EA, Funzio - much has been expected of US start-up Wormhole Games' iPad-only debut.

Called Tank Nation, it offers an interesting hybridisation in terms of how it combines gameplay and monetization.

As CEO Jamil Moledina and COO James Kelm describe it, their vision was breaking free-to-play games out of the current design mentality, which ties monetization to time and/or resource scarcity.

Tank Nation does have this, of course. But, more significant, is a level of skill.

Something different

"We wanted to have real action and genuine fun," Moledina explains.

"And we wanted to be commercial and innovative; doing something new with a core mechanic like Riot Games or NaturalMotion," adds Kelm.

The result is that Tank Nation takes its inspiration from games such as Worms or Angry Birds in being a gesture-focused turn-based trajectory artillery game.

You have a tank, which you can trick out with different turrets, commanders, armour, wheels and defensive options. Movement, attack and defence during each turn are limited by how many action points you have.

Pull back and fire

"There's huge interest in tanks, but we're making them less forbidding. These are anthropomorphic tanks with strong characters," remarks Kelm.

In the single player mode, you take on waves of AI-controlled enemy tanks, earning XP and the soft currency Bolts if you win. In the multiplayer mode, you fight a another human player, earning Tank Tokens, which can be used to get better tank parts.

The top level monetization mechanics use Bolts and the hard currency Gems to upgrade your tank's parts, while there is a fuel meter which controls how many bouts you can fight before you have to spend to refill it or wait for it to refill.

Make it go bang

Yet it's the light skill aspect of Tank Nation, which make it stand out from the array of card-battlers.

Each tank has five slots and 10 levels of upgrade

This includes some puzzle-like elements; the game also has an elementary underpinning with fire, acid and metal replacing paper, scissors and stone.

But it can also be easy to miss your enemy by firing your missiles too far (or not far enough), or even losing a bout because you didn't focus all your fire on destroying one enemy, instead merely weakening all three.

Of course, the tactics are not at the level of chess or Civilization, but combined with a fairly steep difficulty curve and high demand for in-game currency (after a couple of weeks, I'm still stuck on level 10) the experience is notably different to other midcore games.

Calling it "a mild skill element," Kelm says the game also rewards persistence. He also points out that as you progress, you can unlock additional garages so you can have multiple tanks, with different set ups for different environments.

You can grind new parts through gameplay or buy them with currency

"There are some puzzle elements in terms of the tactics. There has to be some challenge for a game to be fun," he adds.

"But the vision is simple - blowing up stuff is fun."

Maximizing the minimum

In terms of our Monetizer metrics, Tank Nation has a fairly standard Discount Currency ratio of 1.4.

It's not yet been particularly successful, going top 10 top grossing in 3 countries, and top 100 in 15. Its US peak to-date has been 186, although it's currently just inside the top 400.

Tank Nation has a clear daily rewards system

Looking at its Monetizer ranking, it is one of the new generation of games with a minimum IAP of $4.99.

For that reason, its Monetizer score is 150, above the 100 score we take as being the dividing line between highly monetizing and non-highly monetizing games.

We can also define Tank Nation as following the Clash of Clans standard in terms of each dollar spent buys you between 80 to 112 units of the Gems in-game hard currency. (In Clash, the ratio is 100 to 140).

Conclusion: Tank Nation

Success ratio (iPad) = 0.001

Succcess ratio (Android) = n/a

Currency Discount ratio = 1.4

Monetizer score = 150

One of the first of a new breed of core F2P games that brings skill into its gameplay and level progression mechanics, Tank Nation hasn't yet found a big audience.

This could be because it's too hardcore in terms of its early difficulty and in-game economy demands, but we await to see what the future update cycle will bring to what appears to be an committed player base.

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Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at PG.biz which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.

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