It wouldn’t be PAX Australia without Wargaming. The global company - based in Cyprus and responsibility for the - is stalwart supporter of Australia’s biggest games, tech and pop culture event. During the event, we made time to sit down for a chat with several Wargaming executives (plus The Creative Assembly’s Josh Williams) to talk about the company’s past, present and future as a publisher.
Chiming in on the recent announcement and imminent launch of dedicated Australian and New Zealand servers for World of Tanks, Wargaming Australia New Zealand Country Manager Travis Plan says that local “players have been wanting a local server for a long time. And for us, a big philosophy of ours is to make players happy. So, when the business decided to come into Australia, the number one request being that this local server from our community, we decided, “Okay, let's make that a priority.”
However, "when we looked at the numbers it was pretty clear that for us to launch one as soon as we wanted to and as soon as the community wanted to, we probably didn't have the numbers to run a whole 24/7 server.”
“You know, to run a 15 v. 15 across the tiers that we have and have that many players at 3:00 in the morning or 4:00 in the morning just doesn't exist right now. But when we digged a little deeper it was clear that that sort of peak period from around 6:00 to midnight, we currently do have enough players to create a great match making service. So, for us we thought it was best for the community, even though it's not 24/7 to still give them a great experience with a local server across that time period.”
When asked whether World of Warplanes and World of Warships players should expect the same treatment, Travis responded by saying that “at some point we would love to."
"We know that that's what the players want. I mean, I think it's important to realize that Tanks, as a product, is probably more reliant for a great experience, to have a local server than those other products. But that being said, you know, if we can make it work we will definitely do that.”
Aside from recent local expansions, the other big development for Wargaming in recent years has been their pivot towards restructuring themselves as not just a developer - but also a publisher.
World of Tanks’ Regional Publishing Director Alexander de Giorgio says that this process is “progressing” while Wargaming Asia-Pacific General Manager Jungwon Hahn says that “We're reviewing products on a weekly basis right now. We can't reveal all the products that we're doing in the future, but basically it's really hectic in that division.”
What’s perhaps the most intriguing part of this shift is that Wargaming isn’t the only one doing so. Well-established developers like Telltale and Double Fine have also made similar transitions in recent years. However, unlike those developers, Hahn says that “the key thing is [that] Wargaming is one of the key players in free-to-play space", arguing that their experience and expertise in catering to that market is a major influence in how they're approaching their new role as a publisher.
Simply put: they know their audience.
“We're not selling a full priced premium product from the get go. When you make your money you cover development costs. And hopefully make more money out of it. But we're in a situation where we we build a restaurant and we try to bring [in as many customers and - based on what they buy - we stay alive or we don't."
Regarding the fast-growing popularity of VR and AR, Hahn observes that “it's definitely something to look at, but also the timing is also key so. You know, very difficult to say what's going to be in the very immediate future.” He points to Wargaming’s existing strategic partnership with Moscow-based tech company VRTech.
When asked what the most misunderstood of World of Tanks is, de Giorgio says that one of the lead developers said recently told him that “players need to understand we're not trying to turn a test match into a boxing fight."
"Our game is very strategic. It's slow paced. It has more of a different flow. I think people see tanks and see the explosions and think it's all about blowing things up as much as possible. And actually it has a lot more, I would say, a lot more depth to it than that.”
“Therefore, some players come to it with certain expectations and then see actually this is a very different style of game than what we anticipated. And actually those are the players that end up really staying with the game long term and sticking with it, because of the depth that's there in the game play.”