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Posted on Jul 1, 2011 in Electronic Games

Bovington TankFest – Plus 2 Interviews with CEO Victor Kislyi – Creator of World of Tanks

By A J Summersgill and Alex Last

Victor KislyiA visit to the Bovington TankFest paid off in spades.  First we have some great video coverage of the tank fest on the link to YouTube, below, and we have both a written and video interview with Victor Kislyi, further below. First, the link to the TankFest, which includes a World War II battle re-enactment:

Additional images from the TankFest may be found here.


And now, the interview(s)






Interview with’s CEO Victor Kislyi. 

Armchair General’s correspondents Alex Last and Andrew Summersgill caught up with CEO Victor Kislyi at this year’s Bovington Tank Fest 2011, to offer the inside details of the record breaking MMO World of Tanks and his thoughts on the gaming industry and where it will take the world of warfare in the coming months and years.

Armchair General: How long has World of Tanks been in development?

Victor Kislyi: Soon it will be 4 years since we started; before that, we have been making strategy games for 11 years; before we have made many games – strategy, hardcore, real time.

Why have you chosen the MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) experience? How does this set the game apart from other MMO’s in the market?

The boxed retail PC game business you have to admit, is not enough – it’s no longer viable with piracy and old ways of selling games off the shelf. You could say it’s against civilisation!

We believe in MMO’s – especially Free-to- Play. Something which you download to your computer for free and play for free. Only would you consider transaction options if you say wanted to boost your progress in the game and give you an edge in the battlefield. We believe in this model and it has been proven; we have 3 million players across the globe, which is an impressive number.

How much do you charge for the add-ons?

Unlike previous titles which had this feature, we don’t have a virtual shop: World of Tanks is for the guys, from all ages, 6 to 60 years old. We aren’t girls – who likes shopping? That’s why we don’t have a traditional shopping experience – we have item browsing instead. All you would need to do is purchase gold and say in a particular battle, you enter the battlefield with a particular tank, you might want to load some Golden Bullets or Premium Gasoline to give you a horsepower boost. To put this into perspective, $10 or $20 will last you a few months, with small add-ons here and there. The key is if you don’t need it, you don’t have to spend it.

Where would you see this as being most effective?

In champion battles or clan battles or even if you wish to boost your statistics. Most of the games you play for fun – but say if it’s the finals of the championships, you might want to purchase some Golden Bullets to give you the edge.

World of Tanks is a popular game and already has quite a following. With the recently awarded Guinness World Record for most players playing the game at any one time, what can these fans and new gamers look forward to in the coming weeks and months?

World of Tanks has been out since April: the game is scheduled to lead for at least 5 years. We won’t be stopping development any time soon! What’s next? Well that means new tanks – at the moment we have around 200, we will be looking to make that 500 new unique models. With this, we are looking for a brand new set of line ups. The French, which is to be released in the autumn, Britain will follow with 50 tanks and destroyers and their artillery represented in the game. Then will be the Japanese tanks, which are fun and make for exotic warfare. What else? Maps – right now, we will be releasing a new map approximately every 6 weeks. We will be cutting that to one every month: we are developing a North American map, Jungles, Island, African landscapes. Why? We want to encourage Clan Wars and something which represents every corner of our planet. We don’t want to create a precise re-enactment of World War Two, seeing the Normandy Landings hundreds of times – we want to make the experience fun. That’s why you might have Russian tanks in the Jungle for example. Ultimately it’s about being very detailed, very precise and authentic but ultimately being PVP (player versus player) competitive fun!

On the subject of new tanks, how did you import these into the game? How did you achieve the level of realism in World of Tanks?

When it came to modeling the tanks, they are freakishly authentic! We hired very knowledgeable historians who have spent their lives in museums, archives, and studied rare blueprints. We have many sources – some players who are die-hard tankers would not allow us to have missing hatches or barrels in the wrong way! When it comes to realism, there is no computer game which has exact precise realism – but we have made it as historically correct as possible. We ensured we had all the details as close as possible: we programmed environment, ecosystem, and photo realistic parameters like ricochet and armour penetration. For example, you can damage the tracks so the tanks are immobilised. If you want to get to the driver but can’t penetrate the tank’s armour, shoot a smaller highly explosive shell to disorient the driver to slow the tank or disrupt communications. You can even target the turret and jam its movement – you don’t necessarily have to kill the tank with one shot!

The game has been released on PC only – are you looking to enter into the realm of the console market at all?

We believe in PC’s! People say PC is dead – PC was there, is there, and will always be there! MMO is physical proof that right now, Playstation and other Wii guys are literally biting their elbows – who still have the old shelf space business model. For PC, everything is online, it’s centred around the social experience and everyone has a PC.

Have you got any plans for tanks from other eras?

We have a philosophical concept: even a 6 year old after playing a few hours of World of Tanks can come up with a meaningful list of sequels – that would be modern tanks, battleships, war planes, helicopters, and of course big walking robots! We are at the point of not coming up with unique ideas but dedicating our time to a quality service to our current games – we are building and supporting our growing communities. We are rapidly growing our offices and our network to handle the support required for this game and to ensure we offer a quality experience: all those ideas listed were good but we don’t want to stretch ourselves too far.

We of course have World of Tanks but we have also announced World of War Planes which will be similar to World to Tanks but will feature dogfights and dive bombers. This is being developed as we speak but the core team will still be producing content for World of Tanks.

You have mentioned Clan Wars. Can you tell us a little bit more about this aspect to World of Tanks?

Clan Wars is a global domination grand strategy. Think Total War – the globe is divided into small territories. One clan is equal to 100 people. In Russia we have 6,000 clans, in the west this is rapidly growing.

In short, we didn’t want to reinvent the bicycle with this one. The rules are very simple. The clan commander moves his chips (or players in the clan) to allocate towards attack and defence. At the end of the day, all these moves are calculated and battles are allocated accordingly. Whoever wins, takes the territory. Think Risk – there is an element of diplomacy – you can enter into secret agreements – say over Skype – so that you can concentrate your attacks in one direction to the worst of your enemies.

The juicy part which gamers will be playing for is the team experience – life and death with well co-ordinated battles: it’s like Counterstrike on steroids!

You still have typical Clan aspects – back stabbing, alliances, secret alliances, quarrels inside and outside of clans. The beauty of this is we don’t have any control over this. Hundreds of thousands of people are playing this game and it cannot be predicted. This makes for exciting gameplay. Clan wars will be going forever! The beauty will be never ending war!

As previously mentioned, World of Tanks was awarded a Guinness World Record. Can you tell us a little more about this?

It’s a technical record – most of the traditional MMO’s have around 30,000 players in separated systems. The beauty of World of Tanks is that we have one single server so everyone can play with anyone at any time. In Russia, we have 1.5 million people, which results in 155,000 players on at the same time – it’s a tactical challenge. The volume before World of Tanks for other games was around the 60,000 mark – we broke it at 91,000 or thereabouts. We are now at around 150,000 players in Russia alone! It’s a personal pride of myself and our technical guys but more importantly, all reside in one eco-system!

Discussing the game and the genre of tank warfare is a clear love affair with Victor, who was bursting with enthusiasm and excitement for the title, being able to share his achievements with ACG and his wishes for the future of World of Tanks. After such an accommodating interview, I managed to have some hands-on time with the game to see it in the flesh. The attention to detail was truly impressive. Choosing from a wide variety of tanks, all intricately mapped and imported into the digital battlefield, you have a true sense of a unique gaming experience – something which I have never encountered before previously. Diving straight into a game, team tactics is key to success and using your surroundings; being flanked from two sides in the middle of a small town, I soon succumbed to the might of metal – with a tank taking pot shots from a hill and two advancing from behind a mountain. This game is definitely not for the lone wolf and will test the hardcore gamer’s skills in the heat of battle. A truly impressive title indeed.