War Thunder and Armored Warfare have their adherents, but neither has come close to approaching the number of players that Wargaming has sucked in with its military strategy games. And like a general with territory to defend, Wargaming sees defending its “home turf” as its top priority.
In an interview with GamesIndustry, Wargaming Head of Development Matias Myllyrinne talks up Wargaming’s expansive audience and the challenges the company faces to maintain those numbers. A former CEO of Remedy Entertainment (Max Payne, Alan Wake, Quantum Break), Myllyrinne was delighted to shift from single-player to online free-to-play gaming, where “you can engage with people for years.” World of Warships was the first free-to-play game he helped to launch, and he calls the figures associated with it — 22 million registered players — “staggering.”
Wargaming isn’t content to rest on its laurels. Myllyrinne talks about the company’s willingness to take risks, whether that be with last year’s Master of Orion reboot, its mobile development, or the creation of WG Labs, which has already snared Total War: Arena.
It’s not just about growth, however. Myllyrinne says that it’s important for Wargaming to keep its existing players, so that it’s not surpassed by a surprising upstart:
whatever comes next for Wargaming, Myllyrinne insists that “job number one” is to “defend, expand and own the genres we created” by being more responsive to the needs of their players. “Nobody should eat our lunch,” he adds. “We should make our gamers so happy that they come back to us.”
Whether or not you agree with the way Wargaming does business, you can’t deny that it’s done a great job of building — and keeping — a large and active player base. If major competition does arise, you can bet the company won’t go down without a fight.