Answered by Sergey Laptenok, Director of Global Operations
Out of all of the modes and styles that could have been implemented in the game, why did you choose 8-bits?
First of all, I’d like to say that we first introduced the 8-bit mode as an April Fools' Day special in 2014, even though the mechanics was absolutely different. The main reason for bringing 8-bit tanks to life is feeling nostalgic about the good old times when we were kids and 8-bit projects ruled the world.
Most part of the team that developed Winter Showdown are avid fans of Battle City game by Namco. I, personally, spent hours and hours playing it. There’s no surprise, you may see the traces and some allusions to it in Winter Showdown: the average age of our players is 27, so when they were kids, Battle City was a hit, especially in the Russian-speaking world.
Is the 8-bit mode trying to reach a niche group? Or do you think if it’s appealing to the larger World of Tanks audience as well? Why?
We really aimed at earning the interest and appreciation of the 27 to 35 age segment who remember the days of Battle city, as well as younger audience that would dig Minecraft setting. However, we didn’t really try to reach a niche group of either Battle City fans, Minecraft fans, or 8-but genre fans overall. The mode is for just everyone playing World of Tanks, something new and exciting, and the stats we collected shows that the overwhelming majority of our audience enjoys and plays the modes we offer.
How hard has it been to make our game into, basically. Minecraft?
It took us about a month to create Winter Showdown. And it hasn’t been really hard, as the team was highly enthusiastic and totally enjoyed what they did.
So is Minecraft closer to this mode rather than the old 8-bit world? Are you hoping to attract the audience of Minecraft as well?
I wouldn’t say so. First, Minecraft as well as any other 8-bit references in Winter Showdown are a tribute to the belle époque of the gaming industry. Second, regarding the gameplay mechanics, the mode is rather opposite to Minecraft. It’s all about the tanks, while Minecraft is a creative game, a sandbox that allows you to change the world around you. Finally, Winter Showdown targets just all the players of World of Tanks rather than specific audiences.
8-bit games are a bygone gaming period. Do you think that the teenagers today will dig the 8-bit modes and games?
8-bit setting in the games is not a bygone one; I’d rather say it’s a trend today, especially in mobile gaming with Flappy Bird being a vivid example of the 8-bit genre revival. The point is that for the new generation of players 8-bit games are just a visual style not a technological advancement. So I don’t see any reasons why the teenagers may not understand or reject 8-bit games, if the mechanics is clear and the use of 8-bit design is justified.
You have done football and racing modes in World of Tanks, spaceships in World of Warplanes. Why have you decided to create these modes in your games?
The main reason we make them is for the fun of our players. Besides, we have a goal of adding new gameplay mechanics into the modes and research how they are met by the community and how they affect the gameplay. In Winter Showdown, for example, we will test super platoons and new game mechanics of healing the allies by shooting them.
What is the process of choosing a new mode and how long does it take to create the mode?
The process is quite simple. We arrange the brainstorming even where we build-up a list of possible modes. After we take into account technological attainability, costs of development and many other factors, we edit the list and come up with the final solution.
To create a mode, it usually takes us from four weeks up to a couple of months.
Do you think our hardcore audience appreciate the work that goes into these modes?
As I previously mentioned, the modes are favourably accepted by our hardcore audience. On the very first day we introduce any mode, at least 80 percent of our players try it out.
Do you have any numbers supporting the idea that the World of Tanks modes are a success among players?
According to our research, 85 to 90 percent of all World of Tanks players choose to try out special modes we offer them.
For instance, our players took part in 13 million battles of the Tank Rally mode all over the world. We expect Winter Showdown to be even more successful, as there have been already 8 million battles played while the mode was active in RU-region.
What do you think players will enjoy most about Winter Showdown?
I believe that shells that heal allies, introduction of the game balance into our modes (before Winter Showdown, it’s been only tanks of one type in the special modes), and super platoons of five that will really spice the game up.