Behind the Iron Curtain: Traveling to the World of Tanks

| 8 Aug 2013 16:00

The National Library of Belarus is a different story. Built in 2006, its retro-futuristic architecture gives off a distinct Jetsons vibe. It was here we traveled for a press conference with the top brass of Wargaming, including CEO Victor Kislyi. We got an exclusive look at a new CGI trailer for World of Warplanes (stylized as WoWp) as well as a brief history of Wargaming.

Wargaming Trip 8

The company enjoyed mild success with its earlier titles, such as 1998's turn-based fantasy game DBA Online, but it wasn't until the 2010 release of World of Tanks that Wargaming really began to boom. Wargaming has acquired and opened studios scattered across the globe and shows no signs of slowing down. With 45 million registered players on World of Tanks and close to a million beta testers playing World of Warplanes, it's safe to qualify Wargaming as a wildly successful studio.

This success became especially apparent at Wargaming's 15th anniversary party during my last night there. The party flaunted a bouncy castle, ice cream, open bars, paddleboats and The Offspring headlining. During the course of the party I watched five Russian MiGs flying in formation, sporting colored contrails.

Jets. At a video game company party.

Children ran around with popcorn and ice cream while booming music played not 20 feet from some of the most powerful war machines ever built. In Belarus it seems, it is impossible to escape the memories of the Cold War and subsequent domination from the USSR.

Kislyi explained during the press conference that when Wargaming decided to make an MMO, fantasy was not really considered, as the company needed to stick to what it knew - tanks. After spending three days in Minsk, the nexus of World of Tanks, it's not hard to understand just why the company chose to focus so strongly on war in its games. The shadow of war rests heavily on Belarus, never far from anyone's mind.

Wargaming Trip 9

Every Wargaming employee I spoke was proud of where they were from and prouder still of where they are going. Deservedly so. World of Tanks is a juggernaut, and once World of Warplanes and World of Warships are released, with a promised account connection between the three, Wargaming will only continue to grow. Toss in 16 studios peppering the globe, and it's all the more impressive that a studio like Wargaming sprouted from the concrete and steel of the former BSSR.

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It sounds like an interesting experience but the fact that "war is everywhere in Belarus" didn't need to be hammered home quite so violently in my opinion.

Interesting to see an opinion of someone from the other side of the curtain.

WoT is a great game (although I don't always agree with Wargaming's decisions with it) and I'm not at all surprised by the creative environment they came from.

That would be a very interesting place to visit should I ever have the opportunity to visit Belarus.

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