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Wargaming on "tank porn" and being "drug dealers of experiences"

Wargaming on "tank porn" and being "drug dealers of experiences"

Wed 30 Oct 2013 7:13pm GMT / 3:13pm EDT / 12:13pm PDT
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Will Wright interviews Wargaming CEO Victor Kislyi on making World of Tanks a global hit

Today at GamesBeat 2013, SimCity creator Will Wright sat down with Wargaming CEO Victor Kislyi in an informal interview about the World of Tanks phenomenon. Wright revealed that he's a big fan of the game and called World of Tanks "a first person shooter an old person like myself can play." Kislyi in turn said he was excited to speak to Wright, who he believes is a "founding father of the industry".

Wright asked where the original idea for World of Tanks came from, and Kislyi pointed to Wright's previous statement about the fact that the game was great for older players. Kislyi noted that many of his designers were older PC players, who had trouble keeping up in fast shooters like Counter-Strike. He said Wargaming is aiming at older men with families, responsibilities, and disposable income, who don't have three hours to raid in World of Warcraft or spend in a long RPG campaign.

Kislyi said the 15 minute match was "our first requirement" for World of Tanks, with most matches taking 5 to 7 minutes on average. He also pointed to the big, red battle button, which is simple to understand and brings players right into the game. In the end, Kislyi said he wanted World of Tanks to be "quick, fast, furious, and deadly," but still allow for deeper strategy and gameplay with top tier players.

Wright praised the game for its "depth and craftsmanship," noting the detailed tank models and added information on the history of each tank. Kislyi said that his organization is happy that World of Tanks gets players to go on Wikipedia to learn more about the tanks, but that's not a requirement. He said the game is really about a deeper connection between childhood and adulthood. Kislyi stated later in the talk that World of Tanks is for "grown-up boys."

"Everyone has put together a tank, ship, or plane in their childhood," explained Kislyi. "Your heart goes back to when you were there with your father."

Wright agreed that World of Tanks is "inter-generational," and he plays side-by-side with his sons. He pointed to the "obvious value" he and his sons get from playing together.

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Kislyi said that was important and that women were "the biggest enemy" of World of Tanks players. In clarifying that statement, he further said that one of the biggest stumbling blocks for the game is "the justification of World of Tanks in the eyes of our better halves." Kislyi said that players use online games - not just World of Tanks - "as a communication tool," and it builds stronger relationships between fathers and sons, or brothers.

"It's impressive you have a passion of the player's point of view," Wright said about Wargaming's community focus. "Your community is involved and nurtured by your company."

The Wargaming CEO said there were many layers to the company's success and added, "there is no one thing we did right." He said that it is necessary for any mass market gaming company to have employees always interacting with fans.

"You have to have people on the ground to hear those voices," Kislyi said. "The other half [of Wargaming] are service people and community managers. Those people 'round the clock are there to play the games with players."

"If you want a mass market product, you have to create a culture"

He explained that you need people to tell you what players want, whether that's through events, eSports, or forums. Wright said that it seemed half of Wargaming's business is "listening to the customer."

"Listening and helping," Kislyi replied. "There's no way with a game like this-- you have to have an office in the US, whose day job is talking to players. If you're in the Korean market, you have to have individuals in Korea marketing and talking to people."

"With any online game, you have to combine intuition, crazy minds for games design, and Zynga-style analytics," said Kislyi when the talk turned to the idea of measuring your players. "You can't afford to overdo to much. I think Zynga overdid that. At the end of the day, good statistics, you have to do that."

Kislyi explained that Wargaming has 20 to 25 "heavy math people," allowing the company to see real-time data with every patch and change. With the extra data, if something is wrong, Wargaming can immediately have game designers tackle the problem.

Wright spoke about the amount of extra content that goes into World of Tanks patches, calling them "tank porn." Kislyi said that's a part of building a culture around the game, which includes museums, eSports, books, a historical department, and archives.

"If you want a mass market product, you have to create a culture," he simply stated.

Finally, Wright asked Kislyi what he thought about industry figures calling for the "death of PCs" when consoles got stronger and the "death of consoles" with the rise of mobile platforms.

"It's not about the platform, it's about the experience. We're drug dealers of experiences."

"It's not about the platform," Kislyi replied. "Two years from now, there'll be something cool we don't know about today. It doesn't matter. It's not about the platform, it's about the experience. We're drug dealers of experiences. How people feel, the culture, the gameplay experience."

He did admit that he hopes cloud gaming finds a stronger place in the market, as soon as hardware allows for high-resolution game streaming. Kislyi also added the Wargaming isn't worried about World of Warships or World of Warplanes not being successful. The new Wargaming.net account allows access to all of the company's games and provides "unlimited choice."

"We destroy barriers. The more barriers you try to build, crowds of people don't tolerate that anymore," he said. "We want a free experience in all meanings. We don't push them to pay, we don't push them to play, we don't push them toward a specific game."

1 Comment

Alfonso Sexto
Lead Tester

713 491 0.7
I remember when I was just a tester in 2010 and we had WoT as a project for two weeks. Looked OK for me, entertaining and, in general, a well done F2P game. Who could tell me that it would become the impressive global project that it is now? everybody involved on it should be proud. A well deserved success.

Posted:5 months ago

#1

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