Wednesday, February 8, 2017

What Went Wrong With World of Tanks Superbowl Advertisements?

World of Tanks Superbowl Advertisements - Were they the right choice?

World of Tanks had four Superbowl advertisements.  They were listed on the World of Tanks web page in a new item:
You can watch all four on that link.

I talked with a random sampling of people who don't play World of Tanks that watched the Superbowl.  They included relatives, friends, coworkers, and some employees of local businesses.  Most of the gamers and the non gamers said they don't really remember the commercials that well and there was nothing in the commercial that made them want to go to the web site in the commercial or find out more about the game.

The few that remembered the commercials and said they laughed at the commercials were in the 12-22 year old age range.  The issue with that is World of Tanks is a free to play game that requires players to spend real money on additional game items to make a profit.  Most 12 to 22 year old people don't have a large disposable income.  Wargaming previously said the average World of Tanks player is a male in his 30's.  The commercials need to be targeted to people older than teenagers and people in their early 20's.  In my own experience playing the game, players in their mid 20's and younger than that usually don't spend much money on the game.  Even a $25 purchase of in game goods seems difficult for them when they can buy a whole other game or game collection on Steam for the same price or take their significant other out to a movie for the same price.  Wargaming needs to target people with more disposable income than players in the 12 to 22 year old age range.

The World of Tanks commercials highlight nothing about the game or game play.  Also when you go to the website the site is vague and doesn't give much information on the game.

I've talked with a few friends who work in advertising about the World of Tanks commercials.  They said the commercials follow the current trend in advertising of getting someone's attention for a short time.  However, most people watching the Superbowl aren't going to run over to their computers to go to a web site or pull out their smart phones to go to a web site right after viewing the commercial.  The actual percentage of players who go to the web site will be very low.  In the U.S. the click through rate for advertisements is 0.09% to 0.10%.  That's when the advertisement is right in your face on your PC, tablet or smart phone.  The percentage of people who see the commercial and go to the web site will be lower because they require an extra step of getting to a device to display the web site.  The percentage of people who view the web site and download the game will be even lower.  The percentage of new players who stay with the game past tier 5 will be even lower than that.

Return on Investment?

How effective do the commercials have to be to see a return on their investment?  Some older data says that the average spent per month by a World of Tanks player on the NA server is just under $17.  How many players would Wargaming need to retain at $17/month to get a return on its investment?  Lets say that the average player still spends $17/month on the game.  Over the course of 1 year, that's $17x12 = $204.  If Wargaming spend $10,000,00.00 on its 4 Superbowl commercials, then we can calculate a return on its investment.  Wargaming would need a little over 49,000 new, active players spending an average of $17/month on the NA server to see a return on its investment in 1 year.  Wargaming would need a little over 24,500 new, active players spending an average of $17/month on the NA server to see a return on its investment in 2 years.

Currently there are about 200,000 active players on the NA servers based on the unique player IDs collected by the player stats web sites.  That means Wargaming will need to see a 12% to 25% increase in active players that are retained for a long time for the Superbowl commercials to be worth the investment.  Looking at the 1 week, 2 week, and 1 month trends, I have yet to see any increase in new active players on the NA server since the Superbowl based on the data at:

Player Retention

Even if people do decide to play World of Tanks after seeing the commercial and navigating through the web site, they will run into one of the major issues of the game.  The low tiers of the game are difficult and harsh for new players.  Most new players quit before they get to tier 5 and the game doesn't seem to get good or become enjoyable for most new players until tier 6 or higher.  Wargaming has known about this issue for a while.  However they have done very little to address it and have not taken advice of their community contributors and club Wargaming video game streamers.  Also Wargaming doesn't have any good tutorials about how to improve in the game.  The game has a harsh learning curve as you advance up the tiers.

One player on the NA forums, who goes by SpectreHD, said, "WG doesn't know the Western audience specifically the NA audience. That is why the playerbase is low and the server have horrible player retention especially at the low tiers."

Historically, Wargaming has ignored player feedback about the game and changes to the game.  Especially from the North American server.  This has lead to the number of active players decreasing.  A few years ago, 38,000-45,000 active players wasn't uncommon during the 7 PM to 11 PM prime time on the NA server cluster.  Since the debut of Clan Wars 2.0 and a few other changes, the number of active players has decreased and even during a clan wars campaign and in game special events happening at the same time, its rare to see more than 30,000 players on during the 7 PM to 11 PM prime time.  Most nights the number of active players during the 7 PM to 11 PM prime time is 18,000 to 25,000 with the numbers being higher in the winter and during special in game events.

In addition to that, the cost for 30 seconds of commercial time in this year's Superbowl is between $5,000,000.00 and $5,500,000.00.  Many World of Tanks players on the North America server are upset that Wargaming and World of Tanks spent $10,000,000.00 to $11,000,000.00 on four 15 second commercials instead of using that money to fix issues with the game that players have been complain about for years.

World of Warships

Also, compare those World of Tanks commercials to this 43 second World of Warships advertisement:
And compare it to these World of Warships commercials:

Those commercials make me want to see what World of Warships is all about.  The commercials make the game seem exciting and fun.  They don't ruin an erectile dysfunction commercial to try to get someone to go to an unrelated web site to download a game when they aren't near a computer.

Introducing new players to the game

When I asked other World of Tanks players how they got their friends and family members to try the game, most of them said they either had the friends or family members watch while they played the game or showed YouTube videos to their friends that showed actual game play.  The ones mentioned the most were, Best Replays of the Week, the RNG videos, and The Mighty Jingles.

Instead of four 15 second Superbowl commercials that give you no info about the game then send you to a vague website, maybe Wargaming might get more players by advertising elsewhere with longer commercials and showing some of the best game play footage and send people to a website that shows the RNG episodes and best replays episodes along whit other appealing aspects of the game.

Alternative Advertising Methods

I researched some additional advertising information:
1. 90% of user say that seeing a video about a product is helpful in the decision process.
2. According to ComScore, the average user spends over 16 minutes watching online video ads every month.
3. 46% of users take some sort of action after viewing a video ad, according to Online publishers association.
4. 30 second in-stream mobile video ads have an 88.3% completion rate according to Rhythm OneInsights.

How many more players could Wargmaing get for World of Tanks if they advertised on YouTube, Twitch, streaming TV services, etc...  Many people watch streaming TV shows when they have nothing else better to do and are killing time.  Its a good time to get someone interested in an exciting game.


For Wargaming to receive a return on its Superbowl advertisement, they will need increase their active players on the NA server by 12-25% for up to 2 years to see a return on their investment.  Even if Wargaming receives a very large influx of new players through the Superbowl advertisements and other advertising methods, World of Tanks player retention will be low until Wargaming fixes the difficulties and frustrations players have when playing tiers 1 through 5.

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