Viktor Kislyi was interviewed by the Belarussian portal “Onliner” regarding the recent closing of the Wargaming.net LLP office in London, and several other crises that are allegedly plagueing Wargaming in general. Here is what he had to say.
Q(uestion): – World of Tanks is not the same, profits at Wargaming are dropping, the London office is being closed. We’d like to hear your commentary.
Victor Kislyi: – Unexpected. I’m joking, of course. Such news appear from time to time at other big companies as well, and believe me, they do not influence their work in the slightest. Matthias [head of development department] and I just returned with our families from a trip to Finland, and from our perspective, this trip is the most interesting news today. But of course, everyone else finds profits more interesting.
Q: – But still. First, pulling out of the Cyprus stock exchange. Now the London office. You do not publish information about profits for several years already. The question that pops up after this is: why is that so? Are these strategic decisions or necessary measures?
VK: – First things first. The closing of the London office is nothing more than a technical procedure, which had to be done long ago. Wargaming’s headquarters is located in Nicosia for six years already. So we are simply getting rid of a non-existent subdivision.
The stock exchange situation is quite similar. We left because we’d like to keep dynamic and flexible in making decisions, such as many others before us. Remember, for example, DELL.
Chronologically speaking, we left the Cyprus stock exchange several years ago already, so you shouldn’t mix these two decisions together.
The company is busy diversifying the product portfolio, we’re entering new markets (LATAM and Australia), strengthening positions amongst publishers and are actively investing first of all in ourselves. Internal development, employees, technologies and R&D.
In the last year we, as Wargaming Alliance, closed a first-time deal about publishing a game and are working closely with SEGA Creative Assembly. To understand what this means for a company, think about how some eight years ago, we were a tiny developer who was seeking publishers himself, and nowadays, a giant like SEGA is coming towards us and wants to cooperate on their product.
Victor Kislyi talks about a new vector – Finland
VK: – During the recent trip to Finland, we talked with students and colleagues from the International Game Developers Association. We’ve visited the tank museum in Parola. Thus, we’ve combined vacation with business. By the way, Wargaming cooperates with the museum for a long time already. It’s a great place. I’ve visited several dozen museums in the last 5-6 years, so I’ve got something to compare it with.
Regarding business, Finland is an important and congenial region for Wargaming. We’ve recently opened an office in Helsinki by buying the local development studio Boomlagoon. Now we’re actively developing connections, looking for promising teams and projects which could interest our subdivisions Wargaming Mobile and Wargaming Labs. Their local developer sphere already knows about us, for them, we’re a big player with several years of succesful expertise.
Q: – It’s strange to not hear any word about “tanks”. The flagship project and, as far as we know, 80% of the company’s profits. Is the game deflating after all?
VK: – It’s simple. “Tanks” did expectedly slip during the crisis in 2014 in the CIS, but that hit everyone on this market. Did the company lose profits? Of course. But we were the only ones who could afford to move towards the players. If you remember, the exchange rate for the ruble was jumping like crazy, but we affixed it in our shops and avoided a price increase of ingame purchases. Thus, players could afford more, and we minimized losses.
And yes, there was the legendary “Rubicon”, after which we understood that many things have to be changed. I won’t share too much details, but as a result, our team changed from being exclusively Minsk-based to an international one: the project director is American, development lead is Czech, but the core (who makes the end product) remains in Belarus. Sitting here are some of the world’s best developers. To assemble such a team, one has to spend several years.
We now have arrived at a reasonable approach in planning and rolling out updates. Now, we’re working on Ranked Battles, and they’re seemingly coming out well.
Regarding 80%. According to NewZoo, the Word of Warships project at different times was included in the top 10 by income amongst all online games. Also, Blitz is one of the best grossing games as well, and set a new trend in mobile development – session-based third person shooters.
Q: – All of these are current projects. What awaits us?
VK: – The first step is working on Total War: ARENA. In parallel, another project is being developed – “Caliber”, a tactical action game. It’s being developed by 1C.
We’re also planning to announce cooperation with a big British company soon.
Also, remembering the recent Boomlagoon purchase, we’ve recently launched Wargaming Mobile, which will, aside from working on its’ own projects, assist young developers to take the path from prototyping to a full game for free.
By the way, we’re in real need of good specialists. We have huge plans for mobile gaming, so we’re inviting able people to work on that. But not only there: we have 200 open vacancies all over the world, 70 of which are for our Minsk office.