World of Tanks monthly revs hitting "double digit" millions

Paying and concurrent users, employee numbers and Asian growth plans all revealed by CEO Victor Kislyi

Free-to-play MMO World of Tanks is generating "double digit" million dollar revenues a month, according to Wargaming CEO Victor Kislyi.

As the game has grown to reach over 20 million registered users, developer has scaled with it - 18 months ago the business consisted of 120 employees primarily based in Minsk. Today it is approaching 800 staff around the globe.

"If you count the last year and a half, we might be the fastest growing company ever, headcount wise and revenue wise," Kislyi told GamesIndustry International. "When you see the numbers of Twitter, Facebook or even Google for a year and half we probably outperformed them."

Of the 20 million registered users, Kislyi is proud of the number of players actually paying for content in the game - figures that are among the highest for any free-to-play title.

"We probably have one of the highest payment ratios in the industry, it's around 25-30 per cent," he revealed. "Because people love the game."

Kislyi, like all execs in the free-to-play space, is guarded when asked about profits from the MMO, but is happy to talk sales numbers in a game that doesn't have a high barrier to entry or pester the player to spend cash at every turn.

When you see the numbers of Twitter, Facebook or even Google for a year and half we probably outperformed them

Victor Kislyi,

"Those would be millions of dollars [of revenues] per month," he said of. "Many millions. I'm not going to give you the exact number, but double digits. Not high double digits."

"Ironically the game is not squeezing monetisation, it's not rough. There's no velvet rope over the gates and you have to buy a key to open it. Some MMOs are like this but we are not. It's smooth and non-intrusive," he insisted.

"For casual gameplay which most players do most of the time, people don't usually use gold or expendables. Of course if you want to win a tournament, if you're competitive, if you play clan wars, if you want to be at the top, we think it's appropriate to expect a little bit of money from you because you already spent hundreds of hours in our game and that's much more than the value of any $50 box. But it's still a micro transaction game, you would have to be very creative to spend $1000."

World of Tanks launched in Russia in April 2010 and a year later in China, the US and Europe, but its home country is still the most popular. "It's the biggest game ever, bigger than all the other games including social, combined", said Kislyi, but growth across regions is impressive, evidenced by the number of concurrent users.

"Last week in Russia our recent concurrent user record was 423,000 playing online at the same time," offered Kislyi. "That's 1.5 times bigger than the whole user base of EVE Online. And that's just concurrent, you can multiply that by ten and get the amount of active players, so that's just under five million.


Fan art competition winner from the World of Tanks community.

"Europe is about 85,000 online so that would be close to a million actives," he continued. "America is the slowest so far with around 25,000 - 30,000 peak, so around half a million."

Online operator KongZhong runs World of Tanks in China, and while official numbers are unavailable, estimates seen by GamesIndustry International put concurrent players at around 150,000. "Our game is their frontrunner making a lot of revenues and growing really fast," added Kislyi.

There are 400 people working on World of Tanks, and expanding out from the Minsk headquarters has opened new offices in Kiev with around 150 people working on sequel World of Warplanes, with another 50 staff "making some smaller projects." Additionally, there's a 70-plus team in St. Petersburgh working on World of Battleships

There's a sense that the Wargaming business is expanding rapidly with a life of its own. Europe has operating offices in Paris and Berlin, and a new office has opened in San Francisco. On top of that, the company is in various stages of roll-out across Asian regions, including Vietnam, Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan and the Philippines - with Kislyi also eyeing Brazil, Turkey and the Middle East further down the line.

That's an epic amount of work, from localisation to staffing, but Kislyi is confident the universal understanding of the content is one of the reasons the game has already become such a big success in China and stands it in good stead for other regions.

If you want to be at the top, we think it's appropriate to expect a little bit of money from you

Victor Kislyi,

"We are in a luxury position to have war machines, vehicles, that are culturally and historically acceptable for the Chinese or for the Korean people. It's not about culturally-centric characters. A tank is a tank. World War II was a global war and a boy in China knows what a warplane is. There is no way to make it more Chinese or more Vietnamese. It's a Mustang."

"We were really nervous to begin with and there were doubts that Asian people were not ready for tanks and warplanes - they prefer dragons and princesses. Well, we proved them wrong. Our Chinese revenues and the number of players are growing really fast. Since November they have almost doubled. That's a pretty good growth rate. Our strategy is to keep cool and keep calm. We understand that to take Korea we need to prepare well, we need to hire well, localise the game, have specific marketing and promotions. We must do it properly. We are in a position where we won't be rushed or pressed. It will be released when it's ready," he added.

"With World of Tanks it was easier for us go in and nobody was expecting anything from us. We kind of flew under the radar. For World of Warplanes we can see the cameras looking at us. The games industry, the media, the players. They have very high expectations, we cannot screw it up, we have to make everything perfect."

Lone Wolf decided early on that a traditional publishing deal for World of Tanks would not be able to match the company's ambitions of scale. "This is not the old-days of games in a box, that model died," said Kislyi. "You have to be a publisher and developer under one roof - that's what we realised four years ago when we started shopping around for publishers for World of Tanks. We met them all. Trying to negotiate a contract we realised they would not be able to do the job. "They have too many games, built on a concept of having a fantasy game, a pirate game, a Hello Kitty game, a shooting game... and World of Tanks would be one of twelve. We'd be struggling, World of Tanks has 400 people working on just one game. Some publishers aren't that big with multiple projects."

Approaching the project realistically, scaled not only creative staff, but also the community management required for the games-as-a-service model that the online games business has now become. "Customer support, community management, running forums, moderating, running in-game events, meeting with players, organising e-sports tournaments, that all requires a lot of smart people to do, " detailed Kislyi. "If you have millions of players it's like elections in a small country. You have to control a large amount of people to make sure they're moving in the right direction.

"We discovered that you cannot do it on a small scale, even out of Belarus we could not run this out of Minsk. It has to be cultural, it has to be local, we have to have local people answering tickets, handling money issues, running the community. Of course it's expensive, these are not low payments, people have to be smart, and for us they have to be the best of the best."

UPDATE: Wargaming representative Arthur Pratapopau has contacted GamesIndustry International to insist that Victor Kislyi was discussing "double digit" revenues rather than profits. We have updated the story accordingly.

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Latest comments (6)

Wes Keltner Founder, Gun10 years ago
I knew WoT was doing really, really well. But holy monetization! That's a lot of Rubles! But let's be serious, this is a fantastically well made product. It has well crafted compulsion loops, air tight mulitplayer and they don't beat you over the head with "give us money" messages. But this growth rate is phenomenal. Kudos to the Wargaming team, they deserve it.
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Robert Adcock Artist, Supermassive Games10 years ago
It's a very, very cleverly designed game. It can be hugely frustrating but not to the point where you want to quit- it's often tempting to pay just to take short cuts to that next tank or bigger gun. I think I may have contributed at least one of those monthly millions myself! (At least that's how it feels sometimes!)
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Ben Strauss Consultant, Gun Media Holdings10 years ago
I play this game rather heavily with my normal group of friends. I don't think it helps any of us that one works at Aberdeen Proving, another works for the National Archives, and a few are active duty US Armed Forces.

Hilariously, I just got one of the biggest tanks in the game last night, a German E-75 Super Heavy tank that was never actually built. My buddies and I all run multiple tanks, spend money on premium, and a few have purchased premium tanks.

There is just something to be said about how simplistic the design is, how much fun it can be when you are properly matched, and the joy it is to run around in a tank that can withstand anything the enemy team can throw at it (not good for balancing, but hey...)

I honestly cannot think of a game that I've spent the kind of money that I have. No other F2P title has given me incentive, and no paid game can sustain that price point enough for me. (CoD certainly has it down with a goodly amount of people with their Elite service though...but that still relies on yearly, rather than micro.)

All in all, should WoT and Wargaming sustain this growth...F2P has a major show of why it should be a future means of developing games.
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Show all comments (6)
Stephen McCarthy Studying Games Technology, Kingston University10 years ago
forgot that i got tanks on sale for 9, i have to give it a go later on

(i got it in game if any ones cares, 19 of items for 9)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Stephen McCarthy on 19th March 2012 4:39pm

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Samuel Verner Game Designer 10 years ago
an unreflected pr-article. most in it is pure bullshit. like the phrase where they compareing themself with a game like eve online, which runs with a single persistent gameworld. they are trying to make it look like that they are doing the same, but that's not true. the game plays on instanced, small maps. like maps in battlefield 3. so it is not even an mmog, like the author claims.

and "double digit profit"... come on. at least write "revenue". and the accounts are network-accounts, which includes accounts from betasignups for their new games aswell.

and so on and so on....

what happend to investigative journalism? did the internet eat it? or do i get this website wrong and it is just a copy/paste site for press releases? just wondering.

Edited 5 times. Last edit by Samuel Verner on 19th March 2012 9:52pm

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Peter Dwyer Games Designer/Developer 10 years ago
I'll come clean. I've never heard of this game until now. Need to do some research and broaden my genre horizons. After all my dream island in the sun will not pay for itself!
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