bit-tech: How has the release of Blitz been and how is it doing so far?
It is the same story as World of Tanks four years ago. We released, and there were so many features we needed to immediately put in and the list goes on forever. But so far it's looking good. We were in, if I'm not mistaken, the top ten grossing [iOS games] in 50 countries and the top one in 3 for a week or two. We've had hundreds of reviews, all positive, and the average is 4.5 stars. It's good. It's not your typical one finger, “click here to pay!”. We're trying to bring this new philosophy of cool, immersive gameplay worlds, strategic advancements and development, team work, e-sports into [mobile gaming], and we will be persistent in this.
bit-tech: We've heard some World of Tanks users complain about issues to do with bots, where people set it up so that their tanks finish games without them being there just to rack up points. Is this a major issue for you?
Well bots are definitely a problem for any online game. But I think in World of Tanks this is a lesser problem. There's no such thing as grinding. In your typical MMO like World of Warcraft you literally grind by definition. But here, it's not easy, it's a game of skill, so people are getting more and more skilful, and the enemy tank, which is a human, does not allow a bot to kill him. But, yes, it's a problem. It's a never ending war between people who make bots and a game company, the same with piracy. With online connectivity, piracy goes away, there is no way you can pirate this game. And when you get to the higher level tanks, making bots is not economically viable because at the end of the day they will destroy you anyway and you'll have to repair your tank. If you don't kill any juicy big tanks and your big tank just got killed, you will pay more [in-game money] to repair it. I think we fix this with the balance and because of the fact that this is a game of skill, there is no typical PvE grinding.
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bit-tech: Do you have a figure for the person who has spent the most money so far, and what that figure is?
I think this person needs to receive an award for creativity, and I'm not joking. The reality is that it's very difficult to spend, let's say, $5000 in Word of Tanks. I think we might have someone who we figured out spent $10,000 or $15,000 dollars somehow after two years and that was a big surprise for us, definitely, like “how did he do that?!”. Our revenues are not based upon these people, it's just a very extravagant example. The game is on the low monetisation side so those people are few. There is only one way you can spend a lot of money: if you are a rich guy, for example, and you want to sponsor a clan. But again, this guy knows what he's doing. Individually, it's very difficult to spend more than $100, $200 dollars per month. I don't know how creative you might be, or whether you're playing 24/7 so it just goes and goes, but even that will not be enough.
bit-tech: What difficulties or challenges does your company face currently and how are you dealing with them?
Definitely the size and corporate structure. It's a big company. There are legislations and laws controlling money, banks, taxes and we have to comply not in one country but all around the world. So we absolutely have to have these boring departments of accounts, finances and so on, and we're building this now. On the other hand, the worry of course with this structure, and there has been millions of books on this, is that the bigger a company grows the more chances that you lose creativity and this fire inside you, so we have to be very careful when we build these corporate structures that we preserve the magic that made Wargaming what Wargaming is today, and to keep improving World of Tanks and to make new, exciting and legendary games.
World of Warplanes
bit-tech: You also have World of Warplanes [our review here], though it hasn't been met with the same near-universal admiration as World of Tanks. What difficulties are there in that case?
World of Warplanes is of course the most challenging project right now because everyone is 3D flying, dogfighting and you can shoot where you fly so you never stop, and you're flying at 400mph. It's difficult to understand this on the DNA level of human beings that move on the surface. But again we think that we can analyse and fix this. The team is right now coming up with a lot of additions and changes to the concept and the controls. This Autumn, we are expecting new features which will definitely change the concept of this dogfighting to something more acceptable.
bit-tech: What's the next Wargaming project in the pipeline?
Well now we have World of Warships, which we've just launched, which you can see for yourself [Check out our preview here
]. Of course, it's not yet a polished game but here we are again trying to find the final form of the gameplay. The problem here is unlike Warplanes where the battles are quite fast. Here, a realistic battle with these warships would take two days and definitely no one's going to be playing for that long. We have to squeeze it into 15 minutes so we have to tweak significantly the parameters like speed, reloading time, accuracy, firing distance because this is an entertainment product and it has to be fun, and it has to be beautiful. You can imagine the level of detail of each ship, those are huge things. This one little turret is the size of our average tank, so there are some technical challenges there too.
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bit-tech: How does it play compared to others?
The game is looking very promising in terms of gameplay because it's a totally different look and feel, especially feel, to World of Tanks. There are different types of ships. The battleship is big and heavier, the cruisers are like the middle men. There are destroyers, which are torpedo boats, so there's lots of torpedoes flying around, and there are aircraft carriers which can launch waves of fighters, dive bombers, torpedo planes. And all that stuff is running around smoke screens and torpedoes, and you can hide behind the islands and you have to locate the enemy and the big juicy aircraft carriers. There's a lot of action, and unlike tanks or planes where you have just one gun, here you have multiple weapon systems and you have to juggle between them. At the end of the day, this [Gamescom demo] is for the beginners just to give you an idea how cool and action intensive a battle can be. But, in reality, when experienced players play, the gameplay could definitely be very deep, very strategic with very tight co-ordination between different ship types and where every shot matters.
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bit-tech: What sort of time schedule are you working towards for World of Warships?
Our philosophy is that we do not give you exact dates. It does not make sense. If you release an unpolished product, you just shoot yourself in the foot, so there is no reason to fix a date. Right now, we're trying to be a data driven company. We do statistical analysis of player behaviours and we know what's good what's not, what features are accepted, what features are not very welcome. As soon as we start allowing people to pay any money, the responsibility just skyrockets. We're a gaming company. We enjoying playing cool, polished games and our 100 million players probably would appreciate some polish too. That's why you have the alpha, closed beta, open beta and some focus testing. There's quite a lot of science behind that and it's all done to make sure we deliver a very complete, polished product. It's not easy, there are millions of components and you have to make everything perfect.
We'd like to extend our thanks to Victor and the rest of the Wargaming team for taking the time to speak with us at Gamescom!