Real dividends at the expense of virtual games

Belarusian game World of Tanks becomes one of the most profitable in the world
By Yuri Chernyakevich

Hundreds, and even thousands of tanks fighting each other, ceaseless cannonade of tank armament, victory of the strongest armoured contender, who manages to thwart all attacks. This is not, as somebody might think, a schematic description of the well-known Battle of Kursk which occurred in 1943 near Prokhorovka. Similar tank battles are played today, however not in reality, but on the Internet by thousands of people who play the game World of Tanks, created by the Belarusian company, Wargaming.

For those of you who do not know I will explain. World of Tanks is a tank battle simulator created following the success of the multi-user game World of Warcraft. Not so long ago, in August, 2010, the company officially launched the game on the Internet and, after a year or two, this simple computer game, for children and adults, has become one of the most popular in the world. As of today, the site has no less than 45 million registered players of World of Tanks.

But this figure is not the last I wish to tell you about. Here is another one — on January 21st last year, more than 190 thousand people simultaneously participated in the game World of Tanks! This fact has been already registered in The Guinness Book of Records.

It is also necessary to mention that these virtual ‘tanks’ please their developers not only by moral, but also by quite real financial dividends. For example, according to data of the analytical company SuperData, last year the World of Tanks game brought more than $370 million to its owners, making it the fourth largest among all online games in the world, that use the ‘free-to-play’ model. This format allows players to install and play the game for absolutely free of charge. The company-developer receives money resources only for the purchase of various artefacts and options. For example, a player can pay a real $10 a month and receive virtual money on their accounts that can be spent on improving their tanks, fortifying their armour, acquiring self-propelled guns and so on.

As for earnings for last year, The Belarusian game left behind such giants of the world game industry as World of Warcraft from Activision/Blizzard (with an income of ‘just’ $213m), Star Wars: The Old Republic ($139m) and Counter-Strike Online ($121m). Ahead of the Belarusians were only such games-strategies as Cross Fire, League of Legends, and Dungeon Fighter Online.

According to the founder of the company, Victor Kisly, the secret behind the success of World of Tanks is simple, “A tank is almost like a car, but more courageous. Our game aroused the interest not only of the youth and computer geeks, the traditional players of similar online games, but also representatives of brave trades like firemen, military men and police. For this reason, in my opinion, our game was to many people’s taste.”

Victor spends at least one hour and a half to two hours a day on virtual combat in order to improve the game. For example, the possibility to use several tanks from one’s own ‘garage’ in battle is under discussion now. If one tank is destroyed, a new tank can join the fight. The founder of the company attentively monitors the reaction of fans of the ‘tank battles’ on innovative ideas, and even personally communicates with ‘tankmen’ at numerous meetings which are held in Minsk, Moscow or Warsaw.

According to international experts, the Belarusian company has a big opportunity for further growth. It is now entering the markets of Asia and America, and preparing a version for tablets and smart phones. So it is quite possible that the impressive figures from World of Tanks, given in this article, will be even bigger at the end of this year.
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