Can you believe it? Ten years of tanks! The game known today as World of Tanks Modern Armor officially made its debut in the console arena on February 12, 2014.
As one of the first free-to-play titles available on consoles, WoTMA (or just “World of Tanks,” as it was known then!) helped lay the foundation for experiences that PlayStation players would enjoy over the next decade. Of course, the game couldn’t have come as far as it has without the support of a thriving community… or without the efforts of a dedicated staff.
In fact, several of our Wargaming staff members who were present for the game’s early days are still part of the team today. Together, they’re taking a look back at the game’s history and a sneak peek at what’s ahead during the year-long event we’re calling Celebrations.
It takes more than a few people to bring a game like World of Tanks to market, but five who made the game what it is today are:
- Andy Dorizas, Art Director
- Valerie MacCracken, Director of LiveOps Operations
- Ben Crawford, Senior Player Experience Manager
- JJ Bakken, Senior Producer
- L. Daniel Burr, Live Game Director
Any of them will tell you that hard work and scrappiness were key to their efforts. Valerie MacCracken, who started at Wargaming in 2011 in a customer support role, drives the point home, saying, “The first North American office was brand new when I joined, and there were only maybe fifteen employees; I recall that on one of my first days, we assembled furniture for the lobby area!”
Physical infrastructure for various offices wasn’t the only challenge; there were technical challenges in developing the game, too. According to Andy Dorizas, who was Lead Artist at Day 1 Studios before it became Wargaming Chicago, “We had to trim things down just to get it to run on early hardware. Art assets had to be shrunk or compressed. Levels had to be simplified… It was a seriously large mountain to climb.”
JJ Bakken, who joined the Chicago studio as an Associate Producer in 2013, adds another issue the team faced: the novelty of what Wargaming was doing! “This was the studio’s first time developing a free-to-play game, and it was early in the days of F2P on console platforms,” he says. “Figuring out a new genre and a new way to connect with game players is always challenging, but exciting at the same time.”
How did they do it? MacCracken says that the process was gradual, “with the alpha, beta, [a] soft launch in certain regions, and then [the] full launch happening, back-to-back.” She also ran what she calls a “super-secret” forum, available only to early testers. “When I saw the passion that the game was creating among our early testers, many of which are still around today, I knew we had something good going.”
Bakken echoes this: “…there is always extra trepidation on launching a live-service game (will the servers perform, etc.), so we were hopeful all our technical efforts would be rewarded. Spoilers: it went pretty well and here we still are, ten years later!”
Ben Crawford, who started with Wargaming Europe ten years ago as a Customer Experience Manager, is excited about the changes he sees in WoTMA’s technology and services, saying, “The evolution is evident in the updated portal [website], new support tools, expanded capabilities outside the game, and enhanced in-game features.”
Daniel Burr, who began at Wargaming as a Solution Architect managing network services, notes, however, that development brings new opportunities, and not just for Wargaming: “Ten years ago, the F2P space on consoles was very new, and so there were no console-specific best practices upon which to lean. Today, F2P on consoles is a much more thoroughly understood model, and new F2P games take full advantage of that.”
So, progress and challenges alike lie ahead, but WoTMA is prepared to embrace it all, starting with the Celebrations event!
At the heart of Celebrations is a dedicated website that will allow players to track their progress in each season throughout 2024, starting with the Lunar New Year-themed Year of the Dragon season that launched on January 30. Players will also be able to compare and share stats with their friends and work toward not one but two special reward tanks that will be awarded when Celebrations ends.
That’s not all. February brings players opportunities to claim two new 10th anniversary tanks, the Lago M38 and the MBT-B, complete the first Celebrations Monthly Challenge (as an Anniversary event with shared community goals and rewards), and so much more.
In the end, every aspect of Celebrations is intended to commemorate what makes WoTMA special: not the tanks (as much as we love them), but the people. “Not very many industry folks can say they’ve been at the same company for over a decade, but we have this stability that allows us to build bridges not only between each other, but between us and our community as well,” says MacCracken.
The game’s big ten-year anniversary is underway. Join us for the Celebrations!