Whilst World of Tanks is a game known to many, both as a game and as an esport, World of Tanks Blitz is not quite so well known. The Wargaming title is a cross-platform free-to-play MMO action game using tanks. It’s available on iOS, Google Play, Mac OS, Windows Store and Steam so it’s a wide range of platforms. The game has over 250 tanks available for the user and through the use of one dedicated Wargaming.net ID, progress can be directly transferred across platforms by the users.
Recently, the Twister Cup was announced for WoT Blitz which will see the four best in the world compete in Minsk, Belarus.
We caught up with Daria Klimchuk, Head of World of Tanks Blitz esports to find out more about the title and the challenges surrounding mobile esports.
ESI: From an esports perspective, what are the challenges of a mobile game?
Daria: Flexibility and dynamics are the main characteristics for mobile esports. Mobile competitive playing has a few differences from the esports we are used to. First, we should note that a mobile game has a lower duration for one battle. We don’t need to engage players in mobile competitive who play longer than 1.5 hours per day.
“The major goal is to make players believe that mobile esports could become a real event and that teams will have an opportunity to become famous via mobile esports and earn real money”
Second, we need to cover broad interests, providing engaging and interesting broadcasting, which help convey a great atmosphere during a tournament. The formula of success for mobile esports looks like this: dynamic battles with lower match duration, accessibility for competitors and viewers, and a fun stage experience. And all of it should be adapted to a mobile game.
ESI: Do you find the esports audience to be as engaged with World of Tanks Blitz as they are with normal World of Tanks?
Daria: We’ve just started our esports journey, which is why it’s hard to say that we’ve already gained our audience. We are looking for ways to engage as many players as we can—not only as participants, but as viewers, too. World of Tanks has had years of development as a cybersport discipline. During these years, we’ve implemented a lot of changes to the format and esports standards for World of Tanks. We are looking for the best practices and solutions for our esports, but we are forming our competitive galaxy from the start. Do we engage the esports audience like World of Tanks? Not for now. But we keep going our way to engage as many as we can and implement innovative solutions to make mobile esports easier to start as participants and clearly understood by viewers.
ESI: Do you find that the mobile audience is younger than the typical PC audience?
Daria: Actually not. Our audience, at least, is not younger. Sure, some of players at offline tournaments are about 16–17, but we have players older than 18–20 as well.
“We are looking for ways to engage as many players as we can—not only as participants, but as viewers”
ESI: How do you see mobile esports developing in the future? Do you see titles challenging the big PC gaming titles?
Daria: Mobile esports is a different niche. I think it’s a questionable idea to compare mobile and PC esports because there are a lot of differences between them: starting from the duration and specific mode of matches, to relevant team equipment on the stage. Many things about the final goals for mobile esports depend on how mobile titles will develop esports. We need to go a long way to understand if it is a new niche and format of esports, or if it stays a small part of a big esports galaxy. Mobile esports is taking its first steps for now. Not so many game titles were presented via esports. Many of them, like us, are just trying to develop what mobile esports should look like and attract viewers from the game community.
“Esports could not exist without viewers.”
This reason provokes the following: not so many viewers believe in mobile esports because most players think that mobile games can’t become a serious esports discipline. All this depends on the mobile solutions developed specifically for mobile esports and how games will promote it. The major goal is to make players believe that mobile esports could become a real event and that teams will have an opportunity to become famous via mobile esports and earn real money. Improving the showmanship part for mobile esports could attract more viewers. Increasing the prize pool and providing interesting solutions can make players believe that mobile esports is a part (even a new one) of esports.
ESI: How important is the spectator experience in World of Tanks Blitz?
Daria: Talking about esports we should not forget it is primarily a show. From this, we should understand that the purpose of the event is to engage more people to watch the stream or to become a part of competitive gaming. That’s why it’s really important to evolve our streams and the spectator’s mode in the game to form the right perception of tournaments. First, a viewer watching the stream should understand what is going on—even if they don’t personally play the game. Esports could not exist without viewers. Tournament participants are the smaller part of esports but viewers tend to co-create esports.
ESI: Which region is typically strongest when it comes to competition? Where is the most popular for World of Tanks Blitz?
Daria: For World of Tanks Blitz it’s the CIS for sure. In the CIS, we have a lot of well-prepared teams who are ready to compete seriously, have a lot of training and promote their team by doing well in major tournaments. The second region is probably Europe because it ranks the second by registration rate for regular tournaments, just after the CIS. But everything may change over time because other regions are increasing their activity, looking at CIS teams as an example and trying to advance themselves. I guess everyone wants to be a star, and tournaments like the Blitz Twister Cup provide huge motivation for teams and regions to improve their skills.