There is a saying that the academic politics are so bitter because the stakes are so small. The same can often be applied to the internet. It is not that major stuff cannot divide and be a cause of hatred and bitterness (I watched an Off-topic area of one forum pull itself apart during the run-up to the Iraq War in 2002-3). Rather that small stuff always seems to reliably raise such viciously strong passions. We have something of a case of this in World of Tanks just now.
It all has to do with the price of an ingame shell. Or, more precisely, with the fact the cost of this shell was going to change from 85 credits now to 260 credits in 8.4. This was discovered in the patch notes on the Russian server and proved once that server went live. The interesting point is that ammunition can be sold back to the ingame store at half the purchase price. So this meant folks on the Russian server – those who bothered to read the patch notes, realised what was going on, and decided to take a punt that the patch notes were accurate – bought a load of shells for 85 credits and then sold then back at 50% the new cost in 8.4 – ie 130 credits – for a nice 55 credit profit per shell. This manoeuvre then became rather well publicised, for example via this For the Record post and this thread on the EU forums.
Well, today Wargaming pulled the plug and, to put it mildly, the flood gates opened. People raged. People raged without thought, and without intelligence. People raged, the pure righteous rage that only the internet can inpsire over some pesky imaginary currency.
I basically laughed, albeit to myself – though perhaps now a little more publicly on this blog. There is one concept that I wish to introduce to the folks who plugged millions of credits down on this deal: speculation. Now, my MMO history comes from EVE. People in EVE speculate about the effects of future game changes all the time. Sometimes they are correct (see the entire Technetium business basically since the change was first announced). Sometimes they are not – and when they are not they end up losing a lot of isk, with no recourse. The folks who bought up these particular shells are, in effect, going to be able to sell them back at purchase price so basically lose nothing. This makes the rage all the more laughable.
Now some folks are also raging because they think that the Russian server is being treated differently from the EU server. Now, essentially the Russian server does get treated differently from the EU server on a number of points, chiefly that there is better communication with the developers (who ever would have thought that a lack of a language barrier might have naturally meant communication was more frequent) and that they get the updates and patches a few days earlier (which again I find difficult to be outraged about – they also get to find out a few bugs that get fixed before the updates ever get to us). Some folks feel generally very aggrieved about these facts most of the time, so when they suddenly think that vast numbers of people on the Russian server have profited from this speculation, and they will not get the chance, they went – to borrow a phrase of Terry Pratchett’s – all librarian-poo.
All in all I feel very sorry right now for the EU Community team. On the one hand they have Wargaming, who created the situation and who have now all gone home for the day, so they are unable to tell the EU folks anything about the situation on the Russian server except to say “it is going to be looked into”. Lots of folks consider that insufficient – but as of right now that is basically the only thing the guys can say. The only truthful thing anyway. On the other they have a load of massively irate folks, who basically are not thinking at all, and who are hyper-sensitive to every negative connotation or spin that can be point on anything that someone even vaguely official says. Then they complain at the lack of response, and rage some more.
So yes, if you are able to think a little about the situation of the EU Community folks, I advise sending Ectar a quick PM to say “Hope it all works out” – even if you were burned by the speculation. In my own line of work too often I find myself caught between the end-user and a technician, so I have to say I have some fellow feeling for these guys.
Otherwise, to all who are raging, get over it. If you want to go to War Thunder, Mech Warrior Online, or some other game, please do so. If not, have a beer, or a cup of tea
(I recommend accompanied by fruit scones, strawberry jam, and Cornish clotted cream), or whatever else takes your fancy. No credits are actually going to be lost, and if you were silly enough to actual sell a tank to help finance your speculation realise that losing a virtual item is cheap at twice the price to learn how risky speculation is (rather lose a tank than your house).