Creative director TJ Wagner talks about the upcoming Xbox One version of the action MMO.
Wargaming’s World of Tanks has come a long way on consoles since being announced for the Xbox 360 back at E3 2013. Given the console’s relatively short life-cycle at that point – since the Xbox One was releasing later that year – World of Tanks faced an uphill battle of sorts. Nonetheless, it saw a phenomenal amount of success in its first year with 5.4 million downloads as of February 2015, 34 million battles and 570 million tanks being destroyed (and counting).
As one of the pioneering free to play titles for consoles, World of Tanks is now gearing up to release on the Xbox One in Q3 2015. What can players look forward to in the current gen release? GamingBolt spoke to creative director TJ Wagner about the Xbox One release, including plans for new content, the power of Microsoft’s current gen console and much more.
"We were the second Free-to-Play game on Xbox 360 after Happy Wars. I’d say we were a key part of the initial growth of Free-to- Play on the consoles and the influence for other games to do so once they saw our success."
Rashid K. Sayed: With the success it’s seen on the Xbox 360, it was a no-brainer to bring World of Tanks to the Xbox One. However, what influenced the decision to release the game on Xbox 360 first, especially since the Xbox One was relatively new and in need of exclusives at the time?
TJ Wagner: We released the Xbox 360 version less than 4 months after the Xbox One was released. That meant there was approximately 80 million 360’s in the world and less than a million Xbox Ones. A Free-to-Play game of 30 players needs a big user base to play with.
Rashid K. Sayed: Microsoft has spoken about Windows 10 providing a means for PC users to play with Xbox One users. In other ways, it’s allowed cross-save support of sorts for games like Elite: Dangerous? Will this cross platform play eventually come to World of Tanks on Xbox One?
TJ Wagner: Right now we are focused on cross play between Xbox 360 and Xbox One which hasn’t been done by anyone else yet. Your account will play across the two platforms seamlessly. Is there a market for the Xbox One version on Windows 10? I don’t know. There are 80 Million people playing the current PC version of tanks right now. That experience is tuned for the PC, I’m not sure there’s a desire for the console version on PC. Time will tell.
Rashid K. Sayed: What are your thoughts on the growth of the free to play market on consoles since the release of the Xbox One and PS4? Did this growth influence the decision to bring World of Tanks to the current gen console?
TJ Wagner: We were the second Free-to-Play game on Xbox 360 after Happy Wars. I’d say we were a key part of the initial growth of Free-to- Play on the consoles and the influence for other games to do so once they saw our success.
Rashid K. Sayed: Will World of Tanks on the Xbox One feature some new content to attract Xbox One and PC users? For that matter, how much parity will updates have with the PC version?
TJ Wagner: We will certainly have new content and features for the Xbox One. The Xbox One version of World of Tanks shares content with the PC only. We’ll keep parity with the 360 but the PC version has its own audience and its own plans.
"I think it’s cool the consoles are starting to support cloud services. It will really help games expand their universes, features and content. These are technologies that have been around for a while and used in many PC MMO games, including World of Tanks."
Rashid K. Sayed: Tell us about the power of the Xbox One and how it enables a more immersive experience for World of Tanks.
TJ Wagner: Xbox 360 is 10 years old now and was state of the art back then. Xbox One is a vastly more powerful machine now. The graphics we can throw at it are amazing.
Rashid K. Sayed: With all the hype surrounding 1080p resolution and 60 FPS frame rates on current gen games, will World of Tanks feature the same?
TJ Wagner: 1080p support for sure. World of Tanks is not a twitch game though so maintaining 60FPS at the cost of graphical fidelity isn’t as critical as it would be in say a typical first person shooter.
Rashid K. Sayed: What are your thoughts on the resolution wars and what ultimately decides if a game “looks good” on Xbox One?
TJ Wagner: That’s a debate that’s been around since the beginning of consoles. Ultimately, all the technical specs matter far less than how the developer designs and makes the game. There are absolutely beautiful 2D games barely taking advantage of the graphics power of the consoles. It comes down to making the right choices for your particular game and the talent of the developers.
Rashid K. Sayed: We’ve heard a lot in the past about cloud gaming on the Xbox One and how it would improve performance for games. Some of this has been seen in games like Titanfall which relied on dedicated cloud servers via Xbox Live. Will World of Tanks on Xbox One utilize the same? What are your thoughts on the overall technology in the Xbox One’s future?
TJ Wagner: I think it’s cool the consoles are starting to support cloud services. It will really help games expand their universes, features and content. These are technologies that have been around for a while and used in many PC MMO games, including World of Tanks. All of our games run in the cloud and render locally. I guess I can say World of Tanks Xbox One will run in the Wargaming.net Cloud.
Rashid K. Sayed: HoloLens is another interesting technology that Microsoft is pushing these days and it’s interesting to think how an AR headset could work in some games. Do you see World of Tanks eventually supporting it?
TJ Wagner: VR is all the rage right now and its mind blowing how many competing technologies that are coming out. We are evaluating them all and working with our partners to explore the possibilities.
"I’ve been excited by every DirectX release since the beginning during my days at Microsoft Games Studios. They are an amazing group that makes it possible for us to make such great games and have been doing it for decades."
Rashid K. Sayed: What is your opinion on the overall virtual reality scene in the industry with so many competitors, from Oculus Rift to HTC Vive, vying for users’ attention?
TJ Wagner: It is incredibly exciting to be seeing VR come of age in our lifetime. I got into this industry in the first place due to VR working for a company called Virtual World Entertainment. In that case you played inside of giant pods with 3D graphics and 15 monitors.
I can’t believe that experience is almost at a consumer level in something as possibly small as your phone. I have my own secret predictions as to who will be the winner but nobody has delivered the defacto consumer VR experience yet. It’s not only the hardware but the applications\games that are made for it that will determine success.
Rashid K. Sayed: As you guys have primarily developed for PC, what are your thoughts on DirectX 12’s potential to improve GPU performance by 20% and overall performance of games by 50%?
TJ Wagner: I’ve been excited by every DirectX release since the beginning during my days at Microsoft Games Studios. They are an amazing group that makes it possible for us to make such great games and have been doing it for decades.
Rashid K. Sayed: Do you think DX12 will have the same impact on the Xbox One as it will have on gaming PCs?
TJ Wagner: I certainly hope so. You can never have enough power in any console so it’s cool to think that in its second or third year the Xbox One will become more powerful.
Rashid K. Sayed: Do you think DX12 will help with the eSRAM bottleneck in the Xbox One?
TJ Wagner: That’s one I can’t answer, sorry.
Rashid K. Sayed: When can we look forward to World of Tanks on Xbox One?
TJ Wagner: Absolutely this year. I can’t specify a date or the PR group will come after me.
Rashid K. Sayed: Is there anything else you want to tell our readers about the game before we let you go?
TJ Wagner: Let’s see, Cross-platform play between Xbox One and Xbox 360, Cross-platform accounts, Cross-platform voice, massive 30 tank battles and amazing graphics. I think that covers it all and I need to get back to making the game. Thanks!