Czech PC gaming portal “Bonusweb” made an interview with the chief of international Wargaming PR section, Artur Protopopov during his stay at the E3 fair in Los Angeles. Here’s a translation from Czech, what it is about
Q: You don’t seem to cover the fact that you are surprised by the World of Tanks success. What do you think is the reason for it?
A: I think it’s a combination of several factors. First, it’s the free to play business model, which breaks down the barrier between the gamers and us. You don’t have to for example pay 40 dollars to access the game. The game environment is also important. Try asking a 5-year old boy, what’s more interesting: a Ferrari, or a tank? He’ll definitely pick the tank. And so the nice environment, the business model and detailed, but easy to grasp game principles all play a role.
Q: Competition between free to play games is fierce. Have you put a lot of effort in advertising the game, or did the people find you themselves and passed the info between each other afterwards?
A: You can’t simply make an online game and ignore the marketing. Yes, we work hard on both positioning and advertising campaigns. The goal is to ensure that waves of new players continuously join the game. We are also doing a lot to draw the players that already left the game back to it. We visit game fairs and try to increase our gamer base all the time. However, in some countries the referencing gains are so strong that we actually have to stop advertising campaigns from time to time, for example in Russia.
Q: Some of the aforementioned things are relatively expensive. I therefore assume that those things came with success. How was it in the beginning?
A: Five years ago, we didn’t have money to visit fairs such as the E3. Back then, me and several other people were travelling around Europe. We visited various journalists, to whom we presented our game and explained, how it could become successful. Some were very hard to convince. And I am not speaking about Russian press. Everybody said “Guys, you’ll be broke in a couple of months. This won’t work.”. So yes, we started small and now we are getting bigger.
Q: It’s obvious from the official company statements that your management practices are modern. What’s your vision for next five or ten years?
A: That’s a good, but also complicated question. From our newest announcement you can guess that we will expand to other platforms. We do understand the fact that only PC game development is not enough. That’s why we work currently on World of Tanks for Xbox 360 and on World of Tanks Blitz for mobile platforms.
As for our plans for next 5 years – that’s hard to say. Currently, we are focusing on the three big games from the wargame series and we have acquired another game studio, the Gas Powered Games, led by Chris Taylor. They are working on a yet unnanounced game, that will however be big and detailed.
You must also understand that when it comes to online games, you can’t just dish out a title and forget about it. World of Tanks came out 3 years ago in Russia, but around 800 people are still working on it. In next three to five years, we will still develop World of Tanks, Warplanes and Warships. We will also work on one or two big games we haven’t announced yet.
Q: Will you unify the three games into one world?
A: That’s a good question. Every journalist asks that one. Basically, we now have three separate titles, that we will connect on community level. Players will be able to share experience, credits etc. We will introduce the unified premium account. So, if you pay 10 dollars in World of Tanks, you’ll be able to use that in two other games. The games will also be connected thru Clan Wars. But at this moment, we are not considering unifying them thru a single battlefield.
Q: I have read that the combat principles in World of Warships are also relatively different
A: Exactly, the map size is different too. Maps for the planes are this big (*makes a big gesture*) and for tanks they are this big (*makes a smaller gesture*). Balancing them will be a big challenge. Who knows, how things will go in the future, but for now, they remain three separate projects, connected thru clan wars and community.
Q: When planning a new game, are you trying to follow the spirit of World of Tanks, or are you more innovative, risking possible negative impact on the company?
A: Connecting those three games in one world means that they must fit together economically, balance-wise and gameplay-wise. With these three games, we therefore are using the same principles. But when developing World of Tanks Blitz we can experiment more. It’s a different platform with different rules and content.
Q: Aren’t you afraid that your player base will start overlapping between the titles?
A: We aren’t afraid of that, we don’t prevent that. The premium account is connected between the games, so if you pay once and play all 3 games, we are happy. We are not greedy, we don’t want the players to pay thrice for accessing the same world. We appreciate the following recommendation between friends more. It’s more important for us to develop the community rather than make the players pay as much as possible.
Q: How would you define your company philosophy? What’s your company’s goal?
A: We have very standardized and formalized goal (SS: literally “a mission”). We offer epic on-line games with love. That’s how we define our strategic vision. But we also do understand that creating epic games takes hard work. We are already breaking records, for example with World of Tanks being in the Guiness book.
Q: You most likely won’t tell me anything, but I’ll try nevertheless. Will you tell me something about the Gas Powered Games game project?
A: Yea sure, it will come out next week! *laughs* You have to understand that they joined us not so long ago and they are still working on game prototypes. They have several possibilities and ideas, but it’s too early to tell.
Q: So that’s the unannounced console project, or…
A: Yea, that’s WOT for Xbox, that’s what we have been teasing you with.
Q: Would you like to add something before we finish?
A: Just a short message to the Czech community. You can look forward to more and more cool stuff. We are preparing a surprise to make specifically Czech players happy (SS: as if the Czech community deserves anything for their forum whining….)