MCV Magazine – Wargaming’s new western front (New projects and more)


Wargaming is mounting its biggest and best-planned assault yet on western gamers, with its first title built from the ground up by western developers for western audiences. CEO Victor Kislyi tells Seth Barton about the masterplan and how even a studio-destroying fire has been an opportunity in disguise Wargaming has traditionally launched its games from east to west. And it’s latest title Caliber – a PvE and PvP tactical third-person shooter – is another example of that approach, with the special forces-based title testing its flashbangs in the post-soviet CIS region before coming to the US and western Europe later. But CEO Victor Kislyi now accepts that such a strategy isn’t necessarily the best approach for those latter markets, telling us it’s a matter of cultural sensibilities. The talkative boss of Wargaming explains that he’s had little choice to consider the east-west cultural divide for most of his life.

Born in Belarus, he explains his ongoing bewilderment at the attractions of WWE-styled American wrestling with its “big guys in golden bikinis’ (something we can agree on) and his dislike of the tortured time-travel plot devices of the recent Avengers movie (something we can’t). Going broader, he has a grudging respect for basketball, “not as good as football” though, and cheers us with his appreciation of the BBC’s Yes Minister, calling it “quality entertainment.” In short, he’s very aware that some (even unlikely) cultural exports can succeed across ( the phantom of the iron curtain while others, often inexplcably, do not resonate. The safest bet then is to make the game in the region that it’s intended for. “If we want to make a western game, we have to be in the west. The whole studio – no Russian manager, no Russian studio. It has to be all western from scratch” he tells us, which brings us around to Wargaming’s fledgling UK studio, based in Guildford. Speaking on the studies unannounced title, he admits: l was a little sceptical seeing the first sketches, but then I thought OK. we were probably doing something wrong all these years, let the people who have done It before do it for us.” And Kislyi is impressed by the team that studio head Sean Decker has assembled to work on the title.

The whole team is loaded for western tastes. The reason why I mentioned WWE or The Avengers, is the game will have elements that maybe I don’t fully grasp, but that’s not a problem, that’s actually good; Having said that, Wargaming isn’t about to dive into some untried genre, with Kislyi dropping the biggest hints yet as to the nature of the upcoming game. “Free-to-play, battle, militarily-themed: he summarises, adding that ‘it’s going to have conflict, some violence, shooting:* And while the company isn’t following its usual geographical approach. it’s sticking to a rigorous and scientific process for rolling out its next tide.

“Of course there will be testing of everything. Everything we do will be scientifically tested, that’s how you do things. Tested not in the east but in the US and western Europe, on people who watch those cartoons, who watch these sport programmes, these TV stars, that we just don’t know.’


Wargaming’s ambitions in the UK are impressive. Guildford has long been a great place to set up a new studio but only if you have the backing to hire and retain the best talent in a competitive and relatively expensive part of the country. It’s a place to build a talented, veteran team, rather than a plucky upstart. The UK was chosen over the US for its mix of nationalities, Kislyi tells us: “Britain is even better {than the US) in terms of the variety of talent. Greeks, Swedes, Germans, as well as US talent too. We’re close to Heathrow so you’re one flight away from pretty much anywhere in the world – direct flights to everywhere.

The studio was partly formed out of the acquisition of Edge Case Games, but has expanded rapidly since )then and will continue to grow with some 30 positions open at present. it’s also had something of an enforced clean slate of late, following a fire which destroyed the old Edge Case office. Keith Anderson, Wargaming UK’s publishing director, tells the story. “[In early August), Sunday night about one o’clock, we start getting some calls that our studio is on fire. And it turns out that some homeless guy started a fire on the canal, on the river that backs onto our studio, it caught onto the bushes, and they burnt up the back of our building.

‘The firemen came along and literally ripped down the back of our building to stop the fire, which went up into the roof, into the timbers. Our server room is now visible, it’s covered in water, so basically they exposed our server room and covered everything in water. “The studio was completely doused in smoke, the electrics were done. The front door was bashed down, and they cut holes in all our walls to make sure the fire wasn’t still smouldering inside:* A pretty complete destruction of the studio then, though thankfully no one was hurt in the fire. And the wider Wargaming organisation quickly got the team up and running in a temporary new office space, pending a move to a new permanent home. ‘

Our support team did an amazing job: Anderson continues. “Within two weeks we were in a new building, we’ve got 50 people set up. were back up and running, because our Wargaming Sydney team started running builds for us, so were playtesting again based on builds they’re running off their servers. To commemorate the event we printed special T-shirts for the studio team – the great fire of Guildford On the back tt says: ‘Nobody does burn down like we de. And congrats to the team, for making what could be a calamity and turning it around!• The team does have plans to move into a fantastic new space in the coming months. We’ve seen photos and it’s very impressive, but that’s all were allowed to say for now Kisliy tells us: “There were cheaper options, but this time I said: ‘Hey let’s have the best place to work in Guildford: And it will be the best place to work In Guildford: Kislyi is upbeat about the fire as well, seeing It as something of a good omen: “I think this is a sign from the heavens: get out of this old barn and move on with your lives: he smiles. He explains the Wargaming office in Minsk was flooded out when they did the alpha for World of Tanks and that game worked out well in the end.


The new office will be just the most visible part of Wargaming’s ambitions, or as Kisliy puts it: “The UK project is going to be big, we’ll not settle for ‘let’s try; it’s going to be super-duper-triple-A: he exclaims. Studio head Decker has an impressive track record, with stints as senior vice president at CCP and six years at DICF. where he ended up as general manager of the studio. Kislyi notes that despite his success, Decker is still hungry, saying “He’s not going to retire in the foreseeable future, he wants a big thing. His job is not to invent the game and come up with creative Ideas. He builds the team, brings in the right people, and it’s going to be a dream team.” We’re not rushing: Kisliy is keen to impress upon us, with the game a long way from being shown publicly.

There’s plenty of time for the new, and growing, team to make its marks on the franchise as Anderson explains for us in more detail: “We’re really trying to do stuff a bit differently, not for the sake of being different. but for the sake of looking for other opportunities to grow the Wargaming brand. It’s a totally new IP, a totally new way of looking at how were going to be doing this. And I think that’s the exciting bit, with the blessing of Victor and the Wargaming leadership, to go and forge a new path for ourselves. And then with leaders like Sean Decker and Paul Barnett (creative director), we’ve really got every opportunity to go out there and ante something pretty spectacular, something pretty fresh. And this is also why we think we’re a really exciting studio to join, because it’s very seldom in a games industry person’s career that they get to start on a new project, from scratch, fully funded, and build it on that end, Wargaming can afford to be somewhat picky about who it chooses for its new team, with Kislyi impressed with Decker’s clear approach to people management. “I wish I had more of this. (Sean) would rather not hire a person, or would fire a person, if they’re not the right fit, so he started from a company culture and common goal: were going for the big thing you’re either on the bus, or off the bus. “It’s easy to say, it’s in every business book, but it’s very difficult to do this in real life. But he has amazing style and he’s doing it, which makes me very very happy. I was impressed at the speed he moved. He announced to everyone: ‘We need you to be at the best of your capacities, we don’t have space for passenger” He was very clear: ‘We need this, this, this from these positions’, he knows his stuff He started hiring, and opening positions, using his network to bring in the best of the best people. He’s not in a rush, we understand that it’s going to take some time. so he’s doing his filtering. hiring and firing according to his standards, which are very high?


The studio has already announced it’s working with Unreal, rather than Wargaming’s in-house engine that powers all its biggest hits to date. And although the venture represents a fresh beginning, Wargaming isn’t going to reinvent the wheel, literally-speaking, in order to achieve its goals. “Unreal was not designed to handle vehicles, so that’s why we have been porting in physics and all the things we have in Tanks, that you don’t have in Unreal. So we have Unreal loaded with World of Winks slut[ technologically speaking: Kislyl tells us, revealing another small piece of the unseen title, with “vehicular physics and ‘visibility systems being two things that the company has plugged into Unreal for the team.

Moving away from Guildford. Wargaming is also exploring other genres and technologies. In Kiev (Ukraine), it’s working with the 125-strong Frag Lab on an unannounced title. “It’s going to be FPS: says Kislyi “Many of those guys were doing Warface before that, so they know how to do FPS, they are using Amazon technology [Lumberyard], because they know how to use it historically. We don’t give anybody any details now. but it’s going to be super-duper-triple-A FPS and again they have the mandate to make It right.” And moving back to Unreal, there’s the recently released Pagan Online, an action-RPG that represents the company’s first big step into the premium game market, with the title being sold on Steam. It’s notable for Its wide range of control schemes (point-and-click, controller or WASD), in what is often a somewhat staid space, and the breadth of its content. “It’s an experiment, we don’t intervene much with their production, we just give them publishing guidelines. It’s not free-to-play, it’s not the biggest shot we’ve made, but let’s try this one: Kislyi says on the game.


A bigger shot. or rather a fusillade of gunfire. comes in the form of Caliber, which (as we noted at the start) is now going through the more typical Wargaming gestation period. It’s currently in closed beta in the CIS region and you an currently sign up for an EU beta that is yet to be dated. “As an approach, it works, it serves a purpose. First we do CIS-Russia. They are more forgoing, we have a stronger community, and so on. Those things that need to be polished, some of them we don’t know until it has a critical mass of real players, balancing. etc. We do it in Russia. There are some things that you can never learn before you launch. The first month or two will tell us how much work is needed to bring to the west; Kislyi tells us.

“This one we hope will be successful in the west because it’s a very universal topic It’s special forces, you can’t be humourous or have impressionist graphics, cel-shading or whatever. This is photorealistic, running on low-tier computers, because the guys in our target audience are not necessarily super-duper. Alienware-equipped guys.” We suggest that third-person shooters am a somewhat more crowded market than tank games, but Kislyi feels Caliber has Its own space ‘The world has been taken by storm by third-person. Fortnite for example. I tried The Division 2 for comparison (with Caliber]. it’s not a bad game, in fact it’s a very good game, it’s third-person, but the pacing is far apart, to have clear differentiation. And Caliber’s ‘free-to-play’. His own family dynamics have in part led Kislyi to love Caliber. He explains that his son had bumped him out of their Fortnite games for his lack of skills: “Fortnite I was honestly playing, playing, playing and then he stopped Inviting me! I’m kinda there but I’m also taking up a space:’ So the pair are now playing Caliber together instead: “I’m playing Medic or Heavy. and he’s playing Sniper or Assault. It’s a good father-son game. `Right now, in Fortnite, my son is not the best player – sorry son! And he plays less and less because he gets killed. It’s a very unforgiving environment. So listen Fortnite kids, Caliber, coming soon!”

Original publication: MCV magazine, September 2019 release, pages 46-49.

0 thoughts on “MCV Magazine – Wargaming’s new western front (New projects and more)

    1. how is caliber supposed to survive among Fortnite, CS and R6 Siege?

      I wish WG would focus on improving and expanding WoT. this has unlimited potential if it would be done right (which they are getting further away from). WG is so doomed, and only they themselves are to blame.

      1. Caliber isn’t designed for a Western audience, as far as I see it. We’ve already got all of the jingoistic shoot ’em ups to last a lifetime with a constant deluge of sequel after sequel, year after year. CS, R6, Battlefield, Call of Duty etc etc
        Caliber is a Sov… Russian take on all of this, instead, where Ivan can have his rootin’, tootin’ point and shootin’ good times, where their vodka drenched equipment and caviar fueled soldiers reign supreme. That and maybe the Chinese/India market, everybody’s after the Chinese/India market these days.

  1. I would say that toning down the Bias on their main titles would be the perfect first step to take if they want to appeal to the western audiences, I mean, a game where you can only go one route in order to win is not appealing to most players, everyone doing the same thing becomes a routine and that is when players lose interest on a game, somehow it starts to feel less and less like a hobby to have fun and more like a daily task

    1. They’ve already clearly demonstrated that they are incapable of removing their ‘bias’ for the same reason that the Americans always win, one way or another, in Call of Duty… they cater to their home market.

      1. you do know that your point makes no sense, right?
        one is a MMO and the other is a RPG shooter with a plot/storyline, you expect to be able to win at the end of Call of Duty, Battlefield, etc… and it is not like the USA is the only one that wins in those games
        most people who go watch a movie do not like when the “hero“/main character either dies or does not “win“ at the end of the movie, with RPG games it is the same, players won’t be happy if at the end they can’t win and in reality you never win completely at the end of the «Modern Warfare» games, and it is true that “America“ usually wins on the CoD games but those are not USA vs USSR/Russia, in the WWII based games, like «World at War», the player wins while playing for both the USA and the Soviet Union, with the «Modern Warfare» series it is based on the “War on Terror“ which is not something Russia has been that active with, even when it seems the series turns into USA vs Russia it isn’t really that since it was caused by a Russian Terrorist Group that took over the Country, but enough about CoD since it’s not about that
        lets take a look at availability, which conflicts can the game developers base their games on, the Falklands War that was so onesided? the Balkans War that saw so many Genebra Convention regulations being broken and was so inhumane? the many civil wars in Africa? the Cuban Revolution?
        there’s really not much choice for a story where for better or for worse there’s still a obvious right side in the conflict that enables the player to play “hero“, I’m not saying the USA or Western European Countries have never done anything wrong during the conflicts they were involved since WWII but the good grossly outweights the bad they did, that is why it is much easier to base games on conflicts where the USA was involved
        the Sovits/Russians might have not done anything as bad as what happened during the Balkans War but there are many bad stories involving them in the conflicts they participated after WWII, like how in 2009 they invaded Georgia for no apparent reason, in the end for you to have the “hero“ feel while playing as the Soviets/Russians in a RPG Shooter the developer would need to reconstruct the facts to make those conflicst seem like a just, even for the Russian audience that were most likely told a story that covers up the bad things done during then, if suddenly faced with a realistic representation they would feel conflicted with everything they had learned until then
        so yeah, you can blame it on “catering to the audience“ but I still believe that the larger reason is simply availability, they can easily make a game based on the Korean War from the side that was clearly the right side, unlike the invasion of Afghnistan by the Soviet Union where Chemical Weapons were widely used (amongs other things)
        in the end what should matter to us is that WG’s main titles are MMO’s and thus should respect the “rock-paper-scissors“ concept where every vehicle of evey nation and every class on a given Tier should be balanced against the ones from the other nations, if you hit harder it should either get less mobility or less armor, and if a vehicle is a brawler it should have less accuracy , that would clearly help their image

  2. Trust this man with your money , like you trusted him in case of M6A2E1 preorder packages.

    \” We will never sell it again \”

    1. so, did you not get the M6A2E1? what did you lose by having them sell it again to players who SUPPORT the game like you do?
      you guys are not seeing this clearly, the reality is that other players should not be penalized just because they were not aware of WoT from the beggining they should simply rename those preorder packs to “WoT Deluxe Edition“ or “WoT Founders Club Pack“ or something and stop the whinning, the one thing players should be against is them selling those Alpha and Beta rewards because preorder packs are just like every other premium pack

  3. Wargaming finally finds out after 10 years that \”Russian Bias\” balancing doesn\’t work in Western games.

    So can we now expect to get a more balanced WoT as well where Russian tanks are not the best all-rounders in everything?

  4. Dear Victor, the truth is that you and everyone in your company have NO clue what to do next. You have zero valid ideas. All the games that you launched after WoT have been a flop. All the things that you change in your main cash cow (WoT) are just drawing people away. All this BS how you are great etc is just PR BS. You managed to make a great game and you will be also remembered as the people who made a great game into utter shit.
    And yes, no one in his right mind will play Caliber. Just as no one (serious numbers of players) was interested in Master of Orion, Total War Arena, etc
    Just your next waste of money, time and company resources.
    And all this time, the game that literally payed for all this BS is treated like crap.
    I’m very sorry that my (once upon a time) favorite game is turn into this RNG/casino/paytonotsuffer crap.

    1. Yeah, it really does feel like they do not know what to do next.
      All the recent years it has been mostly promises and ideas about what to do, with a rare test that leads nowhere.. Bringing in new people, ideas.. and yet nothing actually happens.
      The thing is, it has been getting worse, as they are mainly focusing on inventing new ways how to gain money. They are just stalling time. Trying to have player retention at any cost not caring about long term effects.
      They rebalance maybe a few tanks in a year, and maybe not even successfully, but after that leave them as they are, because “they have been rebalanced“.
      Well the HP/shell damage rebalance might help some bit, if they use the opportunity to have a deeper rebalance, unless they fuck it up, or “indefinitely delay“ it. But it still wont help with no weakspots and other issues.
      Hey, I get that they need to earn money, but I used to be ok with paying for something I enjoy. But right now..
      But hey, it is going to be “super-duper“ as said several times in the article! SUPER-DUPER!!

  5. lol WG is doing everything they can to have substitute sources of revenue for when WoT dies and everyone is a bigger failure than the last.
    They don’t see it. WG’s name is associated with ultimate greed and p2w. No matter what they do I will never ever play another WG title.
    They only reason I haven’t left WoT is because of how much time I have invested and I’m too lazy to start another game from scratch. But one thing is for sure. I haven’t spent a penny on WoT for the past 2 years and I will never ever spend another penny. WG doesn’t deserve any money.
    They have ruined WoT which was never great but it wasn’t this garbage either.

    1. Sunken cost fallacy at work. If you don’t like it, don’t play it. There are endless amazing games out there for you to waste your time on, no need to stick with World of Tanks if you honestly don’t like it.

  6. I just hear all the consultants yell: “Diversify!“ to WG. A smart move would be investing the money in solid and safe stocks and bonds, but there is so much money and all the loss is mainly tax deductible, so WG spends large.
    Success of WOT makes them think they know something, also makes them ignore simple truths and universal rules (Customer is always right… Happy customer is happy to pay… One old customer saved equals two new gained… Don’t spit into a well you drink from… etc).
    Overstepping red lines of money grab and player disappointment in WOT, more in WOWS, brings WG staff to idea that same will cut in all other products, when in fact, much lesser evils will kill a new game, even a perfect one.
    Like hostage negotiators, game makers have to walk the thin line, never crossing into negative emotions. Game should be challenging but not frustrating or grindy, game achievements should be substantial and not perishable and forgotten, new players cannot be prayed upon. “KISS“ keep it simple, stupid – a golden rule.
    Most rules stated above are broken by WG, still people play WOT. Will it kill the game? Eventually it will. But now they milk WOT, especially EU, to feed all hungry fail games.

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