With 11 offices around the world and over 1,000 employees,
Wargaming.net has rapidly emerged as a big-time (if not the
biggest-time) developer / publisher in the MMO space. "We control our
own technology now," CEOVictor Kislyi stated with trademark candor,
citing their recent acquisition of BigWorld - creators of the core
engine behind World of
Tanks (which just topped 35 million registrations
worldwide) and other core properties. "We don't send them customer
requests anymore, we tell them what to do. This is relatively
expensive, like 35 mil, but it's worth it. It's for the ultimate good
of World of Tanks,
Warplanes, Warships, and maybe some other games to come."
We briefly discussed WG's latest announcement, the new World
of Tanks: Generals trading card game, or what Victor described as a fun
experiment arriving before the end of the year. Generals will be
available at retail in physical form and online with the same rule set.
There are thousands of TCGs out there, of course, but the World of
Tanks twist is that players tier up their tank cards as in the core
game and pull out special tactics and event cards to throw the battle
in their favor.
Victor also talked about World of Tanks 8.0, which besides
being confirmed for September will bring significant rendering
improvements, better movement physics (allowing more realistic movement
and hopefully no more getting hung up on cliff sides), and a host of
goodies like the first British tank and adaptive camouflage to WG's
We were also able to learn something new about World of
Warships as Victor confirmed that carriers will be in the game. "He
wasn't supposed to do this," PR Manager Arthur Pratapopau said, shaking
his head, referring to the premature disclosure.
"How can you do Pacific war without carriers?" Victor
responded, smiling. "They will be sending aircraft to bomb the other
guys," he said, adding that the aircraft would be automatically controlled, not
But the core of our discussion centered on the ongoing
development of World of Warplanes, which is currently in closed beta.
"The new patch for closed beta literally came out three days ago,"
Victor explained, citing update 0.3.2, and while visual tweaks abound
(a newly fancied up hangar and the fact that modules now appear on
planes), the major feature is something called presets.
Presets work something like the "sidegrades" explored in MMOs
like PlanetSide 2. Few offer general improvements, but all presets
provide better specialization for specific play styles. For example, if
a squadron mate wants to try out his new ground attack plane and you're
working on your fighter's double xp bonus, for example, you can quickly
swap into a configuration with better stall characteristics and ground
attack munitions like rockets if you want to help destroy ground
targets. Or if you want to be the best escort you can be, maybe you'll
choose a preset with an excellent climb rate, high top speed, and agile
turning characteristics. And you can do this all with a single click on
the stylish new hangar interface between matches.
These presets are based on historical variants and prototypes
of every plane currently in circulation, and most (if not all) tweak
flight characteristics - this is not just a handy way to swap modules,
though swap modules it might. One Wargaming.net developer noted that
the plan is to allow players to modify these presets to their liking
with different modules, but at present these presets are set in stone.
The visual changes conveyed with swapping presets can be
drastic. Victor pointed out the P-51JP1 variant of the legendary P-51
Mustang, which swept the wings forward (instead of backwards, as you
might think) on the plane and streamlined the canopy. "It looks like
Michael Phelps," he said with a smile. "I think one day in history,
some mechanics and designers were really drunk and decided to make a
plane like this." If that was the case, all hell must have broken out
Thankfully, presets are not a separate research path from
modules: if you research all the modules a preset requires, you get the
preset, and vice versa. Wargaming.net hopes to make the game much more
accessible to casual players, who can simply research presets instead
of finding the right mix of modules, making favorite planes more easily
adaptive and attractive to play for longer periods of time.
We were also able to follow up on a recent announcement about
the addition of Japanese planes to World of Warplanes, and Victor
confirmed that Japan will be the fourth nation at launch. "This is good
news for the Americans because they now have an enemy," Victor quipped.
As far as what makes Japanese planes distinct, WG is keeping that info
close to their vest. "Zeroes will have some special capabilities, but
that will be released later on." I didn't have a chance to ask about
kamikaze aircraft (real purpose-built ones, not the unintentional ones
we find in low-tier matches), but given that suicide has never been
rewarded as a valid play style and knocking out one ground object is
hardly a back breaker, I think it's safe to assume that the divine wind
won't be blowing into World of Warplanes.
After a few questions about trends in recent premium vehicle
offerings, Victor closed with some surprising thoughts on the
Wargaming.net's future business model. "We don't have problems with
monetization.There are a lot of ideas from guys in the office, saying
'let's monetize this.' No. 'Let's monetize this.' No. The only
challenge we'll have in the future is to keep people in - stay, play,
free. There is no way we will be squeezing more money. We will be
squeezing less money in the future, because our business depends on
people staying and enjoying and playing for a long time. Peak CCU,
monthly usage, daily usage - that's what matters for us. Money comes
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