While there were many cool things to see and do at PAX Australia 2014, one of our favorites was Wargaming’s booth, filled with a tank, a stage and plenty of computers to play on. As much as we got hands on with the games that they had to offer, we got to ask some questions to Max Chuvalov who is the PR & Marketing Product Manger of Wargaming.net in the Asia Pacific region. You can read all the different questions that was asked ranging from World of Tanks to World of Warships and also a few updates that players can expect in the near future.
Q. If someone is making their first steps in World of Tanks, is it 100% necessary to buy a Premium Tank to progress through the game? Does it give an advantage to people who buy them? What would you recommend to the new starters?
We believe that if you respect your public and refuse to sell in-game advantages, then it works well for both us and the gamers, because it allows you to create a loyal community that will stay with you for years to come. This vision is the groundwork of our original free-to-win business model.
This monetization paradigm created within Wargaming grants both payers and non-payers access to all in-game elements without any exceptions. We started implementing this model 2012. Step-by-step, in-game components that used to be only available for real-life money became purchasable with in-game currency, thus negating whatever combat advantages paying users might have had. Now all World of Tanks players can start platoons and purchase gold rounds, premium consumables, camouflage patterns, and emblems with credits.
Premium vehicles remain in the game, but premium status isn’t a must to succeed. Neither are premium rounds or tanks. The game is adding a set of rare premium tank models with every new update. They aren’t overpowered compared to other normal machines; but manage to stand out thanks to original designs, and the fact they grant a bonus to the credits and XP accrual rate per battle.
We don’t sell ultimate weapons and treat all users fairly.
Both payers and non-payers get equal access to gameplay options in World of Tanks. Instead of looking into how full a player’s wallet is, we focus on delivering quality experiences that people can engage in for hours every week—for years, even—without paying big bucks, while we keep our games fresh and change things as we go.
World of Tanks monetization system is designed around comfort. Real life money can quicken your progression, but all players have a reasonable chance of success, and the game remains a pure measure of skill. You can happily play spending nothing and you won’t feel powerless against premium users.
Q. Is Wargaming bringing any games to consoles any time soon other than the World of Tanks already being published on Xbox 360?
We stepped into console games market with World of Tanks: Xbox 360 Edition and have been growing our expertise in both development and publishing of console titles ever since.
The game experience consoles provide differs a lot from that on PC. That’s why we never even considered the idea of simply porting World of Tanks onto Xbox 360. Instead, our dev team from Wargaming Chicago-Baltimore developed much of the game’s core from scratch. The game engine and control mechanics, for example, were custom-built to better fit into the living-room experience framework.
As for new projects for consoles, nothing’s set in stone yet. Our priority at the moment is releasing World of Warships on PC. Once we see that it performs well on this platform, we’ll consider whether to build a naval MMO for consoles or not. We have what it takes to do it: a team of skilled professionals, recourses, and technologies.
Q. There are already games available and coming such as World of Tanks, Warships and Warplanes. Does Wargaming have a plan already on making something different from the World of series?
As of now, we are focused on the “World of…” series. Our main goal is World of Warships’ development. The game is approaching the Closed beta testing stage. The dev team are fine-tuning core mechanics, alternating on the combat setups, and optimizing control schemes. Once Closed beta begins, they’ll continue polishing the gameplay and adding new content and features built off the feedback they get from testers.
Also, a lot of effort goes into revamping World of Tanks with HD vehicles models, new game modes, and graphical improvements, so there’s a lot keeping us busy.
But we also have several new projects in the works that don’t have much in common with World of Warships, World of Tanks, or World of Warplanes. There’s no further details for now, but stay tuned for some big announcements.
Q. World of Tanks seems to have a smaller number of audience compared to games like League of Legends but the revenue per user seems to be higher, how does Wargaming keep it so fresh for the users to come back again?
We make games as services that will last for years. World of Tanks is always growing thanks to regular new content additions. Also, the game’s social component is really important to us. With 15 vs. 15 PvP at its core, World of Tanks encourages group play and social interaction. The team-based format provides mechanics for grouping (campaign battles, platoons, clans, and eSports teams), and helps people to interact with each other.
Beside the basic voice and text chats used for in-combat cooperation, communication within the community is encouraged on official forums, fan sites, and in social networks.
The social bonds developed in clans and platoons often extend beyond the game and into real-world friendships. We support these bonds by running various events for virtual tankers: community meet-ups, QA sessions with developers, educational tours at military museums, offline finals as part of the Wargaming.net League, and tournaments at Internet cafes.
To spice up the daily experience, we consistently introduce various themed events, daily combat objectives, and contests that keep the community engaged and improve the gaming experience.
With World of Tanks, we give players something to look forward to every week, which keeps them really engaged with us.
Q. World of Tanks is especially big in Europe, is there any chance of getting Australian servers to grow the fan base in Australia?
We’re taking steps to improve the quality of the Australian players gaming experience. At the end of October we set up direct peering from Australia to Wargaming servers in Singapore, in cooperation with the country’s largest internet provider Telstra. It reduced ping by 50% (from 200–250 to 120) and are now working to further reduce it.
Regarding a standalone server in Australia, the time isn’t right to launch it yet. We’d like to ensure that we have all prerequisites of smooth and quality gaming experience for Australian gamers. Once we are done with it we’ll consider setting up a server if there’ll be demand for such.
Q. Where do you think Wargaming stands in the world of eSports gaming? Are there any steps that Wargaming has taken to fit into eSports more?
We’ve been working to grow World of Tanks in eSports since 2011. Having started with small-scale tournaments and encouraging players to form teams and polish their skills and tactics, we gradually formed a pro community around the game.
The next step was establishing cooperation with major eSports leagues such as ESL and StarLadder. Along with that we organized an international Ural Steel championships for virtual tank commanders. The acclaim they gained promoted World of Tanks to the gaming Olympics—World Cyber Games—where it was featured as a promo title in 2012 and has gotten the official status in 2013.
As the number of players eager to compete professionally in World of Tanks continued to grow, we established our own eSports organization, the Wargaming.net League. During its first year (2013) the WG League attracted over 200 000 pro gamers (41 000 teams). We play tested the initial rule sets and tournament format, and now have a clear vision as to how it could be improved.
We recently announced major changes for World of Tanks pro tournaments: the introduction of the new Attack/Defense mode that’s designed to encourage teams to be proactive in matches, which makes things exciting for the viewers. The new mode was created in tight cooperation with professional gamers. We invited pro teams from the Wargaming.net League to play test the new mode, improved it based on their feedback, asked them to try out this optimized version, and it received positive response.
Q. With all the Wargaming games available and coming (World of Tanks, Warships and Warplanes), which one would you say would be your choice and why?
Well, I’m going to have to say that I enjoy playing all three.
They each have such a different gameplay pace. So, the choice boils down to one’s personal preferences and how much time you usually spend on video games.
World of Warplanes is the most dynamic out of the three. An average battle lasts 3–5 minutes. Situations in-battle change quickly and your reactions have to be razor-sharp if you want to succeed. World of Warships is slow-paced compared to the other two games and with focus on strategy. World of Tanks is medium-paced. It’s for those that want to take a more tactical approach.
Q. Are there any plans/updates/etc. Wargaming has for 2015 that you are most excited for that you can share with us?
We have several important events planned for next year. The World of Warships global release is scheduled for 2015, and I’m really looking forward to it. The Wargaming.net League Grand Finals will take place in spring, pitting the best-of-the-best pro-players against each other, and attracting thousands of viewers. I attended the League’s first Grand Final in Warsaw this year, and am definitely going to be there again. It’d be a great chance to track how the League’s grown over time. We also have a few big announcements to make, both this year and in the next, so stay tuned.
Q. You would have been to a lot of gaming expos around the world, what was special about PAX Australia 2014 for you compared to the rest?
What I enjoy most about PAX Australia is the fact, unlike big B2B expos that are all about partnerships and industry leaders, this event is more customer-oriented. It attracts an extremely vibrant community of gamers. At the same time, it’s not as massive as gamescom, for instance, so there’s more of a relaxed atmosphere and friendly, informal communication between people that play games and people who develop them. Wargaming attends PAX Australia each year, and we always make sure we’re bringing lots of fun stuff for our player community every time.
After this great interview, there’s still one thing left to wonder, will Wargaming be bringing a Warship to PAX Australia 2015 with The World of Warships global release being scheduled for 2015.