CombatACE Spotlight: Interview with Wargaming
15 years ago a group of friends got together and created a small company that quickly grew over the years. They would focus on strategy based games and put many players to the test. Wargaming is a Russian based company that has developed popular titles such as World of Tanks and World of War Planes. Mr. Sergey Burkatovskiy, the Vice President of Development, has agreed to do an interview and share with us the story of Wargaming.
In 1998 Wargaming was founded by military strategy enthusiasts. What events inspired this small group to found Wargaming?
Wargaming was created by Victor Kislyi and his friends who had a passion for computer games.The idea was to switch from playing games into making their own projectsand implement their own vision and desires.
During college years,Victor and his brother visited the United States where they learned about the tabletop strategy ruleset De Bellis Antiquitatis. After becoming instant fans of the game they decided to create its PC version. Back in Belarus and out of university, Victor and his brother founded a development studio with a few close friends who shared their passion for games.
What were some of the challenges the group faced and have they overcome those challenges?
The transition from a development team into an international company has been a vigorous challenge for us.
Talent acquisition and management are much more complex in an international environment. So much time has been devoted to re-structuring the company to create strongleadership in key regions and offices. We’ve also worked diligently to ensure our corporate policies and operations standards are consistent across the globe, while still respecting regional business customs.
Another challenge we have encountered was our expansion into new markets.You can't go into China with the same game client you have prepared for the European audience, and the marketing strategy that works perfectly in the US may be a complete failure if used in Singapore. You can’t address different regions with the same approach; it just doesn't work that way. That’s why we had to tweak ourglobal marketing strategy each time we entered a new region.
How did the company survive and manage to release Operation “Bagration” during the economic crises in 2008 that wiped out many of Russia’s game development companies?
No matter how harsh the economic situation is, a really good game will always find its audience. Operation “Bagration offered a state-of-the-art experience for its time.
What inspired the creation of the very successful 2010 release World of Tanks?
Our development team is composed of military history enthusiasts. Most of us are from Belarus or Russia and were raised in post-World War II era, giving this topic significant meaning for us. By the time we dreamed up World of Tanks, the company had already shipped several titles set in the mid-20th century. Using our favorite topic for a new game seemed to be a perfect choice.
When Wargaming was recognized by the Guinness Book of Records for having 90,311 players simultaneously playing on the same server, how did that impact the company?
It inspired us to improve and grow the game even further, and allowed us to consider the idea of evolving the World of Tanks core concept into a series of WWII-set free-to-play MMO games.
Was the release of World of Warplanes something the fans demanded or was it something that had to be done?
We first discussed developing a flight combat MMO game when World of Tanks was still in Closed Beta. Many devs on the team are passionate about flight sims, and making a game about warplanes was a longstanding dream of ours. World of Tanks players shared that passion with us, which pushed us to begin work on World of Warplanes.
How will World of Warplanes differ from other, similar MMOs?
World of Warplanes is one of those “easy-to-enter and hard-to-master experiences”, that will keep players engaged for a long time. The game is user-friendly and accessible for beginners without removing a challenge for experts,creating a gratifying experience for everyone.
Intuitive UI, multiple control schemes, and a full-blown Tutorial Mode assist rookies in grasping the flight combat basics, while experienced players are offered a deep system of manual control settings, versatile upgrades, customization options, and a realistic flight model to master their tactical and piloting skills.
World of Warplanes is a free-to-play title integrated with World of Tanks through a single user account and Unified Premium Service. Players need to register only once to get access to all of Wargaming’s projects, websites, and premium account.
According to the FAQ page you are looking to have 100 aircraft from each nation you will add to the game which is impressive. What kind of work goes into making an aircraft? How much time is spent and how much research goes into the development of your aircraft?
Before introducing any aircraft, a team of historical consultants run a detailed study of that model. They collaborate with numerous military museums, archives, and libraries around the world, learning as much information about vehicles, nations, and technical characteristics as possible.
Once the plane description is ready, artists design 3D models of the aircraft reproducing historically accurate tech specifications.
Then, historical consultants check the model's authenticity. If they find any discrepancies, the plane returns to those artists to correct them.
Oncea model is approved by historians, the game balance team begins tweaking its combat characteristics to fit it into the ten-tier system. Initial specs are continuously readjusted based on the feedback from super testers before the warplanes are released. The team continues to fine tune them several months post-launch, gathering and analyzing combat stats.
What kind of flight simulation enthusiasts is World of Warplanes seeking to target? Casual flight simmers or hardcore flight simmers or something to appeal to both of those groups?
A variety of aircraft classes, a wide range of combat objectives, and realistic flight model will appeal to flight stimulator fans.
Detailed vehicle and crew upgrade systems will attract strategy gamers.
Accessible controls, dynamics, and short session PvP gameplay format will attract first-person shooter fans.
What are some of the things, for those in the flight simulation community, that can be expected from World of Warplanes now and in the future?
We’ll continue to introduce new combat scenarios, including the Squadron Battles requested by our player community.The number of battle arenas will increase with special focus on winter maps.
We will start growing the existing tech trees to include all the three featured warplane classes. Then, we’ll introduce new nations into the game.
It appears that Wargaming has everything covered from tanks to planes, and now even warships. What inspired the creation of World of Warships?
With tanks on the ground and warplanes in the skies, introducing naval warfare seemed to be the most logical next step.
What are your goals for this MMO?
World of Warships will appeal to military enthusiasts keen on naval warfare, and gamers who prefer the strategy genre; drawing anew audience to the Wargaming.net universe.
What can players expect to see in World of Warships? How many nations will there be initially and how many ships for each nation?
We’ll start with American and Japanese naval forces. Soviet, German, British and French ships will be added later on.
As for ship types, World of Warships will feature battleships, aircraft carriers, light and heavy cruisers, and destroyers.
Will Wargaming combine World of Tanks with World of Warplanes and World of Warships to come up with a dynamic game that will let players use land, sea, and air tactics to conquer their opponents?
Merging tanks, naval, and air forces within a single battleground will cripple the game balance of the three titles. The three projects differ from each other in terms of gameplay as theyhave a different combat pace and battle arena size. Each warfare type has its own targetability—tanks are vulnerable to attack from sea and from air and planes don’t stand a chance against heavily-armored military vessels.
The integration of World of Tanks, World of Warplanes, and World of Warships will occur on two levels—on the Global Map and in terms of the unified economic system. In terms of Clan Wars, players will support each other through special consumables. The latter will allow them to transfer Gold and Free Experience between the projects. With the Unified Premium Account, players will have access to the premium status benefits in all Wargaming’s titles.
Will Wargaming have modern versions of World of Tanks, World of Warplanes, and World of Warships?
Our titles focus on vehicles of 1930–1950 with no plans to introduce modern warfare.
Warplanes, tanks, and ships of the chosen era used minimum automatic technologies, and the combat outcome depended on players’ experience and teamwork, leaving computers and homing missiles out of account and providing for a deep skill-based gameplay.
What is the future for strategy MMOs and how do you see Wargaming shaping that future.
The two prevalent trends are free-to-play and multiplatform, and Wargaming is among the companies actively involved in the both.
The company’s line-up embraces PCs, consoles, smartphones and tablets, offering a variety of free-to-play multiplayer online experiences so everyone can pick the platform they prefer, or enjoy Wargaming’s trademark gameplay on several devices.
Another perspective global trend that we are happy to witness is crowdfunding. A few years ago many exciting games had no chance of getting published because software giants are only interested in mega hits. We are seeing that change—developers can go outside the traditional studio model and find support for their product through existent fan bases.This has created great opportunities for small to medium sized companies to work with non-traditional methods to reach their fan base and provide products that these people will support.
Do you have any final thoughts for your fans?
We are grateful for your feedback and have even more fun games in store for you.
Thank you, Mr. Burkatovskiy, for taking the time to chat with us. Below are some links that will direct you to their associated game if you’re interested in checking any of the titles out. Thank you for stopping by and checking out today’s CombatACE Spotlight.