It’s one of those rare moments that as a gamer you feel like a company is listening to your voice. Wargaming.net is a company like no other, not only are they making games that are fun to play, but they are always listening to the community.
At PAX Australia I had the chance to sit down with Jasper Nicolas who is the head of the South East Asia branch of Wargaming.net. Jasper was a thrill to speak with, because you could feel his excitement for the games they made, and the thrill that those game bring to players around the world.
|Jasper Nicolas on the left and Me on the right|
Jasper started off in Singapore with a small start up to help get games to players in the area. By taking on a lot of the work to release a game locally, Wargaming.net was able to focus on making the best possible version of the game. When World of Tanks launched in April of last year around South East Asia, by October Jasper and the team had done such a fantastic job that Wargaming.net brought them into the fold.
After seeing how many Australian players were logging on to the American servers to play World of Tanks, the team at Wargaming.net decided to take the plunge and promote the game here. The booth at PAX Australia was one of the busiest booths and continually had lines of people wanting to experience the game themselves. Also sporting a real world tank, the booth was a massive draw for all attendees of the Expo.
|The tank is behind the girls, who were very knowledgeable about the game|
But many players will be most surprised, as I was, to learn that World of Tanks owes a lot to Australia, as the engine the game is built upon was made by a studio called BigWorld, based in Sydney. Wargaming.net bought them last year for $45 Million dollars.
Jasper was quick to point out that this is not just a game for the super hardcore This game is a bridging game, where Dads can play it, then the kids can play and they can talk about the game together. It provides a common ground for families to talk about games that are not only great to play but also based in history, which proves learning history does not need to be boring.
The game was initially launched in Australia with a small event out at the tank museum at Pukapunyal, which brought out a lot of families. Now with the PAX Australia display, even more players have had the chance to experience the game and understand what World of Tanks is about.
A few weeks back at E3, Victor Kislyi, the CEO of Wargaming.net took to the stage at Microsoft’s Press event to announce that World of Tanks was now on Xbox 360. What makes this version of the game unique is that it’s not a port of the PC version. This version of the game was built from the ground up for the Xbox 360.
Of course Wargaming.net is not just interested in Tanks. They are currently working on a few new games in the series called World of War Planes and World of Warships. War Planes is due out soon, while Warships is currently still in the early stages of development. There is a dream that all three games could come together and players form armies made up of tanks, planes and ships to win the battles.
For players who do not have a PC or Xbox, Jasper did point out that an iOS and Android version of the game is coming soon and is in a private beta at this time. This won’t be a port but a game made for those platforms so it can leverage the best aspects of the hardware, providing players with the best game they can make.
Of course when you start taking all of this into account, its easy to become overwhelmed with the options available. Wargaming.net are planning to use a Single Sign on system so with the one account you can play all of their titles. But what makes these games even better, from a player point of view is that they are Free to play, in that they cost you nothing to get, or to play. While they do offer a premium subscription, that does not provide players with super tanks, or unlimited ammo. It merely offers up players the chance to earn XP faster. For those that are playing without a subscription, you still get everything that other players get. Purchasing new items in game is all about using your XP as in-game currency. However for those that want to spend some real world cash on the game, you can purchase some items that do not affect the gameplay such as skins for the tanks, gold items and even some new emblems.
When I asked about the possibility of making a modern day version of World of Tanks, Jasper pointed out that it was easier to make a game set in the past, as all of the information is easier to obtain. Some of the tanks in the game were designed but never released into the world. All of the tanks were built of the original blueprints meaning they are as accurate to the real world version as possible. This is the only way that these tanks can be experienced. With modern tanks there are too many restrictions on what you can provide to the gamers, with information about these tanks not easy to obtain. When I asked about making games set in the future, Jasper then pointed out that while its not out of the question, they are going to focus their time and effort on making the best games they can within the worlds they have created already.
The team behind the games are always working on making sure that players are given the best possible version of the game, so they are always working hard to fix issues and provide more content. With that said the game is mod friendly, as long as the mods do not impact the game play.
I asked Jasper what was the craziest, or funniest moment he had seen while playing the game. He pointed out that a team of modders created the Indy 500 mod for World of Tanks. Players were placed onto a map that contained a racetrack and using the faster tanks in the game were competing in races. While I was having a nice laugh, he did mention that the development team always look at those aspects of the game and see what they can do.
|The massive screen was showing live matches every day of PAX Aus|
One such mode is the bumper car mode. Where all the tanks are stripped of ammo, and players must win by ramming their tanks into other tanks. A simple change to be sure, but one that adds a new and exciting way to play the game.
|The booth was at bursting point for most of the expo|
After speaking with Jasper, the first thing I did upon returning home was to download World of Tanks for myself. And while I am sure I will most likely suck at playing it to begin with, the chance to learn about the tanks and the game makes me excited to play it.
Wargaming.net may not be a company you know all too well now, but in the future Wargaming.net will be as synonymous with gaming as Nintendo or Sony. So check out World of Tanks, what have you got to lose?