WORLD OF TANKS BLITZ: 2 YEARS ON THE FRONTLINES
It’s been two years since World of Tanks Blitz hit the massive mobile games market, with its dozens of different devices. Step by step the game has reached for new platforms, tweaked its gameplay and offered its community new ways to play. Currently World of Tanks Blitz, just like a powerful heavy, is moving forward and conquering new lands.
Pavel Gorchakov, Publishing Producer, CIS, and Daria Klimchuk, Community Manager, told us about the game’s first steps, how it’s developed over two years, and some interesting facts from World of Tanks Blitz history.
TELL US HOW IT ALL STARTED
Daria Klimchuk, Community Manager
Daria Klimchuk: Initially World of Tanks Blitz was tested in Scandinavian countries. At first, we decided to cover a small segment of players and conduct quality testing on higher-end iOS devices to minimize the number of technical issues. The number of devices was really small so it was easy to first test the product on them. The test went without a hitch. We were impressed at how many people wanted to play the game, which turned out to be a pleasant surprise for us. With it, “Tanks” became available on any device at any time. That’s where the positioning of the game appeared: “Small game, big action”.
Then, we released World of Tanks Blitz on iOS, covering all Apple devices. That provided us with a large number of players, who were extremely excited to have tanks on their smartphones and tablets. Additionally, our army of players included not only World of Tanks fans, but also those who were completely new to video games. What was interesting was that the learning curve was pretty low, which allowed them to easily grasp the basics to enjoy playing.
After reaching iOS, we realized that we couldn’t just stand still. We wanted more. Android became the next platform we brought World of Tanks Blitz to. It was quite a challenge. The Android market is enormous: there are lots of devices, video cards, and processors outlined in various configurations. By focusing on this market, we stumbled upon a tricky question: how do you optimize a game so it runs on most Android devices? So we chose not to optimize it for specific devices, one by one. Instead, we decided to optimize it for entire segments: video cards, video accelerators, and RAM which were widely used by players.
Testing on Android racked in over 20,000 applications. Lots of players wanted to try the game, as they didn’t have iOS devices, but a lot wanted to play mobile tanks. Testing was divided into several stages and went well: we received tons of useful feedback from players. But we had to cut down the number of devices, as we didn’t fully understand how their hardware was functioning and how it would affect our game. Nevertheless, upon its release, World of Tanks Blitz featured a great number of devices (several thousand from the list of supported devices). That was a prominent achievement for us; we managed to retain a large segment of players who were deeply interested in the game.
We understand that there are other platforms, and World of Tanks had a room for improvement. That was the moment we set our sights on Windows 10, a complex platform in terms of a small amount of users across CIS countries. For this reason we were a bit concerned that there wouldn’t be enough players. However, it went really well. Some players mentioned that World of Tanks Blitz was a lot different from World of Tanks on PC, where you can’t buy modules with credits. Moreover, mobile game featured new consumables, smaller maps, unique vehicles, etc. Of course, there were users who found these changes jarring when compared to World of Tanks on PC. In the beginning, they asked a lot of questions, and it took some time for them to get used to it all. Eventually everything settled down, and more and more players are joining the platform.
The game debuted well on Windows 10, although, compared to release on Android, the launch on Windows 10 was not so successful.
In the end, we took aim at Mac OS. Here we managed to avoid technical issues and smoothly proceeded to release. With an army of excited players, World of Tanks Blitz had conquered all leading mobile platforms. It’s an autonomous product, and it dramatically differs from World of Tanks. Some features were built from scratch. The game even has vehicles that never hit the battleground in its “Big Brother”. For example, we added Tankenstein, a Halloween special. Players could complete missions to get a unique machine made of other tanks’ parts. It was an absolute hit among players. On one hand, they were shocked as they hadn’t seen it before and didn’t think we could create something like that. On the other hand, we realized that it’s fun, which is great for a mobile game. So, those who came in World of Tanks Blitz from World of Tanks on PC were getting used to the game and broadening their horizons.
Pavel Gorchakov, Publishing Producer, CIS
Pavel Gorchakov: There was no audience crossover in the very beginning. At launch, core World of Tanks Blitz players were those who were enthusiastic about tanks. However, at the moment, our player base includes a decent amount of users who have never played other Wargaming projects. They play mobile tanks, and they like it.
Daria Klimchuk: There are people who have never ever tried games at all before World of Tanks Blitz. They honestly admit that it’s their first game and are genuinely surprised at their two years of gaming experience in World of Tanks Blitz.
Pavel Gorchakov: Recently we’ve changed our development strategy, which is different from World of Tanks on PC. Instead of taking every single feature from World of Tanks, we introduced novelties that fit our mobile community. So, we are pretty independent when it comes to decision making, new tanks, new content, and features. It all differs, and that difference will be stronger in future. For example, unlike other Wargaming products, World of Tanks Blitz boasts advanced customization.
Daria Klimchuk: It’s explained mostly by the fact that the mobile audience has its own needs. World of Tanks on PC has gone a long way in five years. There are enough players whose garage is literally stuffed with vehicles. They don’t want to deal with something new. They’ve researched most of tech trees and their further evolution means clan events, personal reserves, etc. They are approaching eSports level, meaning the game is no longer a hobby.
World of Tanks Blitz players, instead, are more agile and dynamic. They don’t want to spend five hours a day on a game. They want the fruits of their labor to be received quicker and they want it to be fun. They like customization, camouflage. Any mobile gamer wants the process to be engaging. If it’s like that, then they will stick around.
Fun is a must-have for any mobile game. We respond to gamers’ needs, listen to the community and analyze feedback. The market is specific: one decision applied in two different cases can have a different effect.
WHICH DECISIONS MADE IN WORLD OF TANKS BLITZ IN ITS TWO YEARS WERE SUCCESSFUL AND WHICH WERE NOT?
Daria Klimchuk: Take, for example, Japanese anime tanks which were inspired by the Girls und Panzer anime. They were an ultimate hit. Players completed battle mission, received these tanks and realized that these vehicles were a source of fun. There was nothing similar before. They ensured deep gameplay, demonstrated good characteristics and looked excellent. Now, when experienced players pick up one of these tanks for battle, other players become interested and ask for it as well. The question is a common thing among newcomers. They are gradually getting involved in the game and start collecting vehicles. It’s no surprise that they crave unique tanks and want to stand out in battle.
And vice versa. We implemented battle missions, but didn’t receive the feedback we were waiting for. Statistics have shown that new players are quite skeptical about battle missions. Many players complete them on the go and don’t even know that they’ve already completed them. I mean, there’s no enthusiasm. It’s also explained by the fact that players who received battle missions already had most of the vehicles and weren’t motivated by some extra rewards like credits or experience. Instead, they were interested in getting more precious goodies like Gold, Premium Account, or upgraded crew. Upgrading crew experience takes a while so it’s a very popular reward.
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT WORLD OF TANKS BLITZ AND THE DEVELOPMENT TEAM.
Daria Klimchuk: When I joined the project I was impressed by the team’s devotion and involvement. These people weren’t just making another game. They love World of Tanks Blitz and this love is not limited by working hours. It’s not just a job for them. It’s a game they want to play. If some controversial issue pops up, everybody comes together to discuss it.
The team has well-tuned communication. Publishers and developers are always in touch. We share opinions, ideas and information. All our processes are transparent.
Pavel Gorchakov: Publishers and developers have weekly meetings that are designed to discuss actual issues and plans. Together, we regularly publish materials that serve as a bridge between players and developers. Our brand has a human voice: most news on our official resources contain comments from the developers and so on. It works much better like that.
Daria Klimchuk: As all World of Tanks Blitz developers are ardent gamers they can, at any time, communicate with users on the forum, answer their questions and explain complex matters with simple language. Due to this model, players have a better overall experience. They know they can always leave feedback and it will be considered.
IT’S BEEN TWO YEARS. WHAT ARE THE MOST PROMINENT MOMENTS IN THE HISTORY OF WORLD OF TANKS BLITZ?
Daria Klimchuk: I would say Rise of Continents. It was a competition of different regions which were represented by Russia, Europe, Asia and the USA. Especially for the event, we launched a landing page where all players’ achievements were tracked. Our main goal was to see the involvement of each region.
The battle was really fierce. On one of the last stages, the RU region was closely followed by their European opponents. Then, the RU region made an ultimate push. The entire community started making up mottos and showing their support like never before. That was the moment when team spirit reached its peak: the challenge was accepted, and the RU region won. This was a story about how common goals can be achieved.
It would take all day to list the most prominent moments. There were a lot of milestones: we introduced clans, training rooms, battle missions, crew skills, many new locations, vehicles, special tanks that could be obtained by taking part in various events. It was one ongoing process for World of Tanks Blitz. It never stopped. We managed to settle on a certain pattern: regular updates with something new are shipped every month.
WHERE IS WORLD OF TANKS BLITZ GOING?
Pavel Gorhakov: It’s no longer a secret. The game is evolving in two main directions. One of them is competitive gaming, which is aimed at our hardcore players. They want to grow further and go for clans and training rooms where they can hone their skills. The second direction is expanding content for new players that have a keen interest in the game yet don’t want to spend hours in battle. They will get a new mode, new tech trees, new maps, camouflage, etc.
Daria Klimchuk: To put is simply, we are focused on players who are ready to take battles to the next level. With training rooms being added, they now have the possibility to organize tournaments. Some top clans have their own tournaments with real-life money as a prize pool. These competitions include everything that real matches have: qualification tournaments, semifinals, finals. Players take it seriously in terms of a professional eSports. But this is only a small segment of a large audience.
There’s another part, too. These gamers come to play, to have fun. That’s why our main goal is providing engaging and deep gameplay to every player.