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PAX Prime 2013: Interview: Wargaming

InterviewPAX Prime 2013

“Some places, they build statues for people. In Belarus, they build monuments for the tanks.”

Wargaming’s taken a specific path to get to where they are. They focused wholly on one thing and decided to be the best at it, to specialize and carve out a niche that needed filling. They build their games for the tanks, much as the developer’s native Belarus built the monuments, with a fascination and awe for what they represented. World of Tanks is informed with a cultural currency and understanding for the machines of war. Like any good creator, they’ve created what they know.

They’ve fashioned a brand around a cultural by-product that carries an importance for Eastern European military history. It’s a celebration of their best military designs and has been met with an enthusiastic following in this part of the world. By carrying this specific worldview, World of Tank’s has provided a new thing for videogames and established Wargaming as a preeminent publisher on the strength of a single title.

They’re now looking to expand the brand. World of Tanks is set to be one of the first noteworthy F2P releases on a Microsoft console. They wouldn’t go into too much detail about the partnership but noted that they had a flexible plan allowing for consistent updates and that they’ll be utilizing their own server, both rare for anyone but the biggest publishers on Xbox Live. But perhaps Wargaming can now be categorized as one of the larger ones, they’re certainly significant within the F2P space.

We went hands-on with both World of Tanks 360 and World of Planes in a backroom behind their PAX area. The team talked about bringing the same ambition to aircraft and detailed how specific and down-to-the-bolt accurate they’ve gone with each design. They’ve said while they’re not putting anything out there now, an Xbox version of World of Planes may come into the picture with the success of Tanks.

And on further expansions, they’re already looking at the naval side. Asked whether this would all lead to a cumulative game with land, air, and sea represented, they said they’re not looking to become Battlefield and that while those games are great at what they do, it’d lead to smaller environments and larger questions about how each side is balanced. It would come out very different from how they’re executing on each base game.

We asked about Total Annihilation but weren’t having any luck getting answers. With Wargaming having recently purchased the IP from an Atari auction, along with Gas Powered Games in a separate deal, it does feel inevitable, and all they would tell us is that Chris Taylor’s team is now in the prototyping phase.

Wargaming have created a thriving market out of a common love for specific military crafts. By focusing in on a specific brand of war, they’ve allowed themselves a niche where they can co-exist with all the big games and just do one thing very well. This continues to be the mission statement and what allows Wargaming to be an emerging big player in a market they can call their own.

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in July 2007. Get in touch on Twitter @Calvin_Kemph.

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