The leader of the mighty World of Tanks studio gets the rapid-fire question treatment
[This feature was published in the September 2013 edition of Develop magazine, which is available through your browser and on iPad.]
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Victor Kislyi and I am the CEO of Wargaming.
What are you working on right now?
The company has several projects in the pipeline. World of Warplanes is quickly approaching release. The naval MMO game World of Warships is prepping for global alpha testing. World of Tanks Blitz will open up Wargaming’s trademark team-based military IP to smartphone and tablet users. And, World of Tanks: Xbox 360 Edition will appeal to console gamers, while World of Tanks Generals will enable cross-platform gameplay. We are also building a battle-centric gaming universe that will unite all of them within the global Wargaming.net service. Along with our expansion onto new devices, Wargaming continues to grow its global presence with the establishment of new offices.
What was the first video game or product that you ever worked on in the industry?
The first game I ever worked on was an amateur turn-based strategy game Iron Age that I developed together with my friends in 1995. Players were tasked with forming secret alliances and commanding individual units to gain control over territories.
What was the first video game you ever played, and did you enjoy it?
As a high school kid I played Total Annihilation a lot. It’s what inspired me to create my own games in the first place.
What was the most recent video game you ever played, and did you enjoy it?
I am a huge fan of turn-based strategy games, the Civilization franchise being my all-time favourite. I’ve played and enjoyed every incarnation of Civ, and Civ V takes up plenty of my gaming time nowadays.
What is your favourite game ever, and for what reason?
World of Tanks, of course. And not just because the project allowed Wargaming to scale and grow into an international company – I have sunk hundreds of hours into the game, because it is totally addictive and never gets repetitive, not even after several thousand battles.
How many hours a week do you spend playing video games?
I play World of Tanks daily; at least an hour goes to flight combat in World of Warplanes. But I’ve never actually thought about tracking how many hours a week I spend on gaming.
What area of the industry do you feel needs more ‘investment’?
I believe big companies should embrace the fact that free-to-play is no longer a repository for low quality games.
What do you enjoy about the video games industry today?
I’m a strong believer that free online games are the future of the industry. They’ve been transforming the very concept of quality gaming lately, and I’d like to see what will come out of this trend.
What disappoints you about the video games industry today?
Copycatting is a problem that irritates me most. Wargaming and our growth is an example of how we approached bold development tactics. We were not afraid to tackle games like World of Warplanes and World of Warships in ways that were completely different than World of Tanks.
What other video games developer do you most admire?
I have always admired Chris Taylor and Gas Powered Games. They are really an amazing team. When I first met Chris seven years ago, we talked a lot about our love for real-time military strategy games.
As I have got to know him, it hit me that at our core, we both had the same sort of creative vision. We have met many more times after that, discussed the industry and trends, until we came to realisation that we should collaborate. Today our teams work closely together, and we will definitely create a new and impressive title in the future.
What hobbies, collections or interests do you have that are completely unrelated to video games?
I like playing chess. It has been a game that I’ve been very interested in since when I was a kid.
What is your favourite book, movie, TV show and album of all time?
Since I was a child, I have had a taste for historically-focused movies.
At the age of seven years old I watched Spartacus by Stanley Kubrick with my father, and this film remains one of my most favourite to this day.
The other genre that I am fond of is action movies. The Rock with Sean Connery and Nicolas Cage is a movie that I enjoyed a lot.
I am also very fond of non-fiction books, mostly focused on history. Even though today I mostly reach business literature, I still try to dedicated some reading time to these historical novels and books.
As for my recent favourites, the series of books by Patrick Lencioni – The Five Temptations of a CEO, The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive and so on – have impressed me a lot. My favourite music bands are Pink Floyd, Queen and the Offspring.
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