When it comes to successes in the free-to-play market, few games have had the influence and the longevity as Wargaming.net’s World of Tanks. From its humble beginnings as a Russian multiplayer title to becoming one of the forerunners of the freemium gaming world, few games have reached what Wargaming explosive series has accomplished. But at E3 2014, Wargaming.net proved that they have no intention of running in place with their crown jewel of a series.
Hardcore Gamer got a chance to talk to Wargaming and see what new projects are in the pipeline. With established franchises expanding and new ideas brewing, it’s safe to say that 2014 isn’t going to be a quiet year for Wargaming.
Wargaming.net’s biggest push at E3 this year was their upcoming game World of Warships, with the game having its first playable live demo available at the show. Building upon the appeal of World of Tanks, World of Warships differs itself from the now legendary MMO with a stronger focus on scope. The studio explained the challenges of giving their upcoming naval battle game its own identity and pulling it out of the shadow of World of Tanks. With ocean combat being such a more open-ended aesthetic, Wargaming.net contemplated how to make the game unique.
The use of more complicated units such as warships offered lots of new ideas for Wargaming.net to play around with. World of Warships offers four main classes of ships to use: the nimble destroyer, the supportive cruiser, the powerful battleship, and the strategic aircraft carrier. Each ship has their own specialties and skills, offering quite a bit of strategy during the seafaring skirmishes. The game will also have a remarkably steady learning curve, as the developers did not want the game to appear convoluted or intimidating to players.
The development house put a strong emphasis on making each ship function as they would in real life. Wargaming.net even handed the idea off to their St. Petersburg studio, as the city’s heritage and expertise as a major port town offering experience in designing naval units to scale and specification. In addition to cosmetic detail, the damage model in World of Warships is much more complex than World of Tanks, boasting more than 120 unique guns and ballistic weaponry. Each map will also have hundreds of miles in view, which complements the game’s strategic elements such as aerial units. World of Warships will have a number of game modes including Capture the Flag, which was shown to us during the interview. World of Warships is currently in alpha stage, but will enter closed beta later this year.
The studio also filled us in on the mobile title World of Tanks Blitz, which had a soft launch in Scandinavia earlier this year. The game’s launch in that region was a strong one, with the game entering the best-selling ranks on multiple app stores. Even more impressive was that average play sessions for Blitz during the launch period was between 60 and 90 minutes, an extremely long session time for a mobile title.
World of Tanks Blitz was Wargaming.net’s challenge to make their PC hit palatable to mobile audiences and their efforts have proven fruitful. Though it doesn’t have every feature of the PC version, Blitz contains multiple social elements and customization options for the mobile audience. During the presentation, we got to see fully customizable button layouts, offering ample opportunity to tune your controls to your own style of play. Social integration with Facebook will allow players to join up with friends’ games easily and the studio is even experimenting with simultaneously video chat during gameplay. Even more impressive is their interest in game streaming for Blitz, though no streaming client has been selected yet. The game also offers cross-platform support, so iOS users can play against Android user no problem. World of Tanks Blitz is set for a North American release on June 26.
Wargaming.net wrapped up their presentation by filling us in on the original World of Tanks, which is still going strong. The studio continues to vigorously support their free-to-play game, bringing the game to new markets including Latin America. The 360 edition of the game has net over 3.8 million downloads since launching and continues to grow. Wargaming.net explained the advantage of having the game run by Wargaming.net West, the studio composed of members of recent acquisition Day 1 Studios, creators of the MechAssault series. Wargaming.net West’s history as console devs made them the ideal choice for the console version of World of Tanks.
The studio also announced a proposed retail version of World of Tanks on 360, though it wouldn’t be the typical release. The retail version was pitched to Wargaming.net by Microsoft themselves and would include tanks, currencies and special items that would be a good way to help newcomers dive in, while still offering exclusive content to fans. The package is also set to include a full month of Xbox Live Gold. The final price has yet to be decided, but the studio said that they don’t intend for it to be more than $30 US. The last major announcement wasn’t nearly as serious. World of Tanks on PC recently got the “World Cup” content, which allows tanks to actually play soccer against each other. The goofy mode will be available on June 17 and remain available until July 13.
Wargaming.net continue to support their core successes, but with World of Warships and the upcoming North American release of World of Tanks Blitz, it’s clear that new ideas are being developed as well. 2014 looks to be a busy year for the studio.