Wargaming CEO accepts blame, vows renewed focus on World of Tanks

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World of Warships and other studios will be allowed to find their own path to success

Wargaming’s chief executive office, Victor Kislyi, was in a mood to spill his guts last week. During an interview with Polygon in San Francisco, he was candid about his recent mistakes and vowed a renewed focus on his company’s flagship title, World of Tanks.

“We were a little arrogant, let’s say, three years ago,” Kislyi told Polygon. “We were thinking we know everything that our players need without talking intensively to them ourselves. It turned into — I wouldn’t call it a disaster, but we hit the wall at some point.”

That wall had a name: Rubicon. The update was delivered nearly two years ago, but the ill will from players, especially from WoT’s rabid Russian fanbase, still haunts the game. It was so poorly received, Wargaming couldn’t simply roll it back.

“We are always open to criticism,” Kislyi said. “What we did in this case, it was [my decision]. I literally reshuffled the whole World of Tanks team. Developer and publisher. Before that it was extremely Belarusian-centric team, which was headquartered in Minsk. They didn’t even speak very good English. What we realized is that probably there are some limitations that old team had, so I brought in new people.”

Today, Kislyi said, the core WoT team is more international than it has ever been before, including an American at the top of the organization. That, he said, has made them more able to respond to the needs of their community, more adaptable and better able to listen.

“This took years for us as a company to come to this understanding of this necessity [of this change], and to make it,” Kislyi said.

How does Kislyi know it’s working? Of course, he said, people are playing more. But anecdotally, the community seems more friendly.

“I play every day under my real name,” Kislyi said, “So, this is my temperature check. I play for one hour and I get 20 messages from people. They used to be swearing and complaining. Two years ago. One year ago. Now, they’re mostly thank yous.”

That reorganization, and the change in philosophy that came with it, has paid dividends for other development teams at Wargaming. Properties like World of Warplanes and World of Warships, long the neglected children of the Wargaming family, are being given new freedom to plot their own course.

When Warships launched in 2015 the game got lots of good buzz, including here at Polygon. Our preview called is one of the best free-to-play games we’d ever played. But the community did not stick around to support it after launch. Player retention trailed off, Kislyi said, after six months to a year.

Kislyi blames himself, and his top-down creative demands on the game.

“I was pushing all those teams to literally copy World of Tanks,” Kislyi said. “That was wrong.”

Kislyi said he’s now letting individual teams dictate how their games evolve, and letting each of them engage with their communities on their own to find a path forward.

“What are they going to be making there? I don’t know,” Kislyi said. “That’s for them to decide.” (Seb: and for me to leak)

For Wargaming, 2017 is all about shoring up its keystone franchise, World of Tanks. The plan, Kislyi said, is to completely rebuild the entire graphics engine. The final overhaul is loosely scheduled for August of this year.

“We realize that World of Tanks can last forever,” Kislyi said. “But we have to prepare for a very long winter. The winter is coming, and it will not go away. That’s a good problem to have. So the approach should be that we’re making the game to be built like the pyramids, for centuries or millennia.”

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52 thoughts on “Wargaming CEO accepts blame, vows renewed focus on World of Tanks

    1. Eve online was great and didn’t suffer in the same way. Eve Online lost because they started catering too much to blob warfare and protecting carebears in a way casual players only really had the chance to farm missions. I switched to Tanks because I felt like fishing for hours in low-sec and empire and either got no results or bad results where I’ve had a huge solo and small group track record for years before…

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      1. The only mistake with that really was giving out plans that might not be in the “final” release or not gone through enough testing to see if it was viable, like we saw later on happened. Time can change directions or decisions.
        so hopefully they will stay with the “don’t go showboating until we know we have something”. :3

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  1. As long as they put money in front of balance, they wont fix any issues. Back in the days game was better balance wise because all tenks had weakspots and there was no gold ammo for credits.

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    1. Let me guess. You didn’t get in?

      Sandbox is a place where ideas are tested. Depending on feedback they are changed, abandoned or sent to supertest for further testing. There’s nothing wrong with the Sandbox idea. It is, in fact, a better way to allow players to give their input on future ideas. Unlike supertest that’s closed for a few testers.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Nope. I was in the sandbox. Hated literally everything about it. Not a single bit was fun. It’s not an improvement to the game when you make every t10 feel like a tier 4 with 50% crew.

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    2. Some of the ideas are really nice. Also I wish public test would be the same in the way how gold is distributed, you start off with 0 and get 40 per win. Gold ammo and premium is only for gold.

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  2. I have seen many friends leave the game due to the +2 matchmaking. They need to make the matchups equal in terms of tank tiers and player skill levels. They can play around all they want with new graphics and content, but unless they fix the matchmaking the game is gonna die anyway

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    1. I’ll never understand why people think +/- 2 MM is killing the game. Yeah, your tank isn’t top tier, oh well. That doesn’t make the match unplayable, it just means you can’t YOLO straight into the enemy team and expect your armor to be impenetrable or for your gun to just go straight through frontal armor of everything in the match. If you use your brain, you can make it work. Certain tanks should probably have pref MM like the B1, but not all of them. What needs to be fixed is when MM gives the enemy team 4-5 top tier heavies, and your team gets nothing but mediums or TDs.

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        1. Funny that you mention the Tiger I. It happens to be one of my most played tanks (although it has not been present in my garage for some time). Remember that part where I mentioned that you can’t just YOLO into the enemy team as a bottom tier tank? If you’re fighting an E-75, just try working with your team and flank the thing while it’s chewing on someone else’s tank. In the Tiger I you have reasonable mobility, lots of HP for a tier 7, good DPM, and good penetration. Not every tank needs to reward tarding it up by allowing you to just plow your way through the enemy team with brute force when you’re not top tier.

          The reason I have this opinion on MM is precisely because I am proficient enough at the game to be able to outplay my opponent using superior tactics and the strengths of the tank that I am in. Calling me a retard does nothing to reinforce your point, and shows how blind you truly are to the concept of player skill.

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          1. Indeed, I wonder why someone would mention the Tiger as an example for +/-2 not working. I don’t think any other T7 heavy is as viable as a Tiger in a T9 game due to it’s high pen, retarded dpm + good gun handling.

            However: +/-2 still sucks as A LOT of tanks suffer from beeing bottom tier.

            Esp. the performance of RU heavies like the T-150 or KV-3 is way to dependend on what kind of MM the matchmaker blesses you with. Toptier? Well, here you go. 4+ nobrainer kills for you *at least* as you did well in choosing the correct tank to play the game as a hightier. Aw… lowtier? Have fun “flanking” (in a corridor 85% if the time… good luck!!1) and ST-I to bounce off his ass. So. Much. Fun.

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      1. Yeah, these ppl who thinks +/-2mm is bad never experienced the old +/-3mm or the even worse one what we had in beta and early days after release, when a tier 6 could be matched against tier 10 tanks.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You are flat out wrong, the +2 tier system is killing this game, you should have a fighting chance to kill your opponent not be food for the higher tiers, I should be able to fight on the Frontline not being in the back as a support tank, hard to push thru lines when it’s tier 5 vs tier 7 armor and alpha between the two are leaps and bounds in most cases, not only should you be able to attack with confidence but be able to defend yourself just as equally, this would bring edge of your seat matches and make the game more intense for everyone playing

        Liked by 1 person

        1. You can always try outplaying your opponent, not every match needs to be served to people on a silver platter. Granted, tier 5s vs 7s is a bit of an issue due to the HP and armor differences, but this was not the focus of my original post.

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        2. The only tier were it’s an issue: Tier 4. Everywhere else it’s fine, fun. I’ve been playing since before the 3+ days. +/-2 is generally fun, and balanced. Tier 6 is simply fun all the way around, as is Tier 8. The only reason tier 4 struggles more then tier 3 is the sharp change in game play between tier 5 and 6. Yolo derp face no longer works after t5.

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      3. Some tiers have it even worse due to +2 MM. Tank balance is just wonky even within same tier and goes completely haywire when -2 tier faces 13x tanks higher tier.

        Gang bang nature of 13 x tanks being higher tier and over those 7 are even +2 tier higher! make the game play of lower tiers completely retarded!

        Really NOT fun to play those against T6 (being in any T4 tank) or in any T6 against T8. A legion of IS-3 and their derivatives are really not fun to face in ANY T6 tank!

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      1. Because it was “well received” some years ago doesnt mean it’s a good idea. The +4/-4 MM was gamebreaking and unfair for all tanks that were not toptier in their battles.
        A tier 5 could do nothing against a tier 9, a tier 2 could do nothing against a tier 5.

        That’s why this MM was changed ; stop using it as an exemple, if it was so good and fair WG would not have changed it, and if nobody complained WG would have done nothing aswell… I mean if you think a KV-2-107 fighting PzII’s is fair and good for the game please do not become game designer in the future (you’ll only benefit gaijin if working at the soviet vehicles balance)

        And the problem with the +/-4 MM still exists with the current +/-2 MM, at least for tiers <5 : the bottom tier of a battle doesnt stand any chance against the higher tier, and especiaky at these tiers where the difference of power between two levels is huge ; most tier 3s are oneshots for tiers 5s.

        At higher tiers the gap between tiers isnt as big – even if WG is trying really hard to make it big, with all the new tanks designed to fight +2MM easily without being balanced well for +1/+0MM situations – but when the bottom tiers are too few in a battle they become useless and as vulnerable as a tier 3 against a tier 5. This is a real issue WG admitted and is trying to fix with their new MM template, by putting more bottom tiers in each game and less toptiers they want to make +2 MM more enjoyable, so when you meet tanks 2 tiers higher you don't immediately think "well here I go , a battle where I'll do nothing".

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Back in that days, HE was actually quite potent, even without aiming at weakspots.
          U received way too much oneshots as lowtier, but u still could to massive damage spamming HE. It all changed with the rework of the HE-mechanics

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  3. [“I was pushing all those teams to literally copy World of Tanks,” Kislyi said. ]

    I guess I see the reasonning behind all the BB buffs then :^)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. But isn’t that is due to the Korean CWanker players, which decided to boycotting KR server after the ban wave?

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  4. Though this sounds really nice, I do believe it’s just an empty speech with nothing to back it up.
    If he really means this then we will see not only optimalization and a long awaited graphical update but also proper rebalance of the red scum tanks.

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  5. Couldn’t care less about WoT anymore. As for WoWS:
    1) Partial tech tress from now on. This way new ships will appear in the game much faster without having to wait for some paper/fake successor to be modelled. Not everyone plays tier 10 and I still don’t see the big deal in it. There is no CW in WoWS and until it comes, tier 10 ships should not be a concern.
    2) Add only partial BB lines (tier 3 to 6-7) to reduce BB overpopulation. Remember when arty progression used to end at tier 8?
    3) Prioritize on ships that saw combat service, or were at least under construction before being cancelled either due to conflict or politics. The RN and pre-revolutionary RU BBs have been neglected far long enough.

    Of course, I don’t expect Kislyi to actually keep his promise. WG never did and never will. We’d have to see some real changes before we can believe it.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I daresay, the French cruiser line would have been in WoWS ages ago had they stopped at tier 7 with Algerie. Upper tiers can always come later.

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    2. So damn true!
      1. Partial trees – yes please!
      2. “partial BB lines (tier 3 to 6-7) to reduce BB overpopulation” – I am ok with it, but why do you think it will reduce BB population?
      3. “Prioritize on ships that saw combat service, or were at least under construction before being cancelled either due to conflict or politics. The RN and pre-revolutionary RU BBs have been neglected far long enough.” – yes, yes, yes!

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      1. I kinda like those paper Russian ships…but if such is the case you must also have a problem with “Henri IV” being a mostly “blue sky” design too?

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        1. I just prefer get all the existed materials into the game first before there’s a need to have Belarus/St.Petersburg Design Bureau or KZ step. This applies to both WoT and WoWS.

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  6. Now it would be good if WG EU also apologise, stop being arrogant and treat us crappy 3rd class customers compared to other servers.

    Meaning mostly the horrible bad missions (like the arpeggio event where we got hardcore requirements like killing 20 RU ships while almost nobody played with them while other servers just had to gather xp, or the ridiculous weekly missions), cutting out contents and sell event rewards what other servers can get it for free for money what happened in christmas convoy and the missing second campaign. Thank god the immense rage of players made them change the missions.
    These are just the latest examples of bad customer threathing and server discrimination.

    This is the most frustrating problem for me about WG, and the new trend of introducing OP premium tanks / ships. The Parrot, Liberté and Defender trio is totally outpreforms tech tree ships, and in WoWs we have Belfast the pay2win cruiser which have all the consumeables and being the most important ship in current ranked season because of radar. When the meta ship is a premium you know there is something wrong.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Kislyi is the last guy from WG that i will take seriously when it comes to self criticism. He has done this several time already. In fact, he always does this when he makes a statement. Doesn’t mean peanuts to me.

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  8. We shall see…the new MM looks like the mast WG has nailed their colors to.

    As for the whining about the new tanks they’re going to see Tier X so they have to be pretty good to be viable.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Victor is a fat bastard that has done all these changes just to make more money. Once you taste capitalism (same as tasting and smelling pussye) yopu are hooked.

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  10. IS 3 still unnerfed? 252 implemented? Russians in general nerfed to where the fuck they belong? No? None of it? Fuck you Victor, you still do not listen to your player-base.

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  11. So basically ignoring players input this whole time is started to hurt his wallet. This is the same asshole that had a video talking about how artillery is a jewel in world of tanks, and that he loved playing the hummel. Until I see anything in that department change then he is still a lying sack of crap!

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  12. WG only listen to noobs it seem. Most of the changes the last 3 years has been idotic and have only created more balancing issues than benefits. No, I still think the older, original concept of WOT was better. No gold ammo for credits and all tanks had real weakspots and strong spots that could be exploited. Now days, most new tanks that are released have no weakspots frontaly that are viable to standard ammo, and this push a pay2win scenario where you have to use gold ammo. Most older tanks have weakspots, but that is changing because WG buff armor in HD models and mess with colission models.

    I have no credibility for WG staff anymore and the current sandbox tests, OP premiums, HD model messups proves that. They only want people to spam more gold ammo that is the sole reason for the balancing changes.

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