Home > Site news > Interview with Victor Sour for the newspaper Vedomosti ^ ^ (Aces)


“business such as ours should be conducted peacefully”

As the creator of World of Tanks Victor Sour affected by the crisis and looking for sources of income, creating a “new media-reality”

Belarusians and a resident of Cyprus Victor Sour 17 years running the company Wargaming, which managed to create one of the most popular in Russia and the former Soviet Union multiplayer games – World of Tanks. The game became rapidly gaining users, but those have been actively paying for items within the game. In 2012, World of Tanks brought Wargaming $ 218 million, and last year its revenue more than doubled, according to company Superdata, to “tank” the company earned more than $ 500 million. The crisis has tempered the excitement of the players – they have adopted for the computer game less time and began to pay less. Wargaming plans to compensate for the drop in revenue growth in international markets, new projects and promoting the game to compete in eSports (computer game competitions), which, according to sour, can develop into a new media-reality.

Интервью Виктора Кислого для газеты ^Ведомости^

– Before the crisis, the main market for you was Russia and the CIS countries – and now?

– Structure of the players have not changed much. We all understand that in human DNA Russian tank “sewn up” (laughs), and nothing can be done. Residents of the former Soviet Union played a lot of tanks and less to do so did not. Americans more spoiled, they need everything to be beautiful, they have to show everything. They no longer play on the console, and only a year ago, we launched World of Tanks on the console, and then the old version. Now we make a new version for the Xbox One, and then, perhaps, there will be some increase in the number of users in the United States.
For example, in Japan, few computers, the Japanese played mostly on Play Station. But if the Japanese love some kind of game, it is already out of her climbs. And it is the paying audience. But in terms of the number of them small, when compared with other countries.
It is clear that we began with the proportions of 0: 100. That is Mother Russia, CIS. However, in the first week closed testing began actively join the Poles, the Czechs – they are also very fond of the tanks. Icelanders somehow play a lot, all of Scandinavia.

We have made efforts to spread our game in the world. To do this, we localized World of Tanks, brought support for different languages.
Now we have the audience the game is distributed around 50:50. Half – Russia and the former Soviet Union, the other half – the rest of the world. That is, the speaker is still in the direction of increasing the international audience, which is logical – after all people of the world more than the former Soviet Union. Although the density of the “tank” smaller, but the population and territory of more (laughs).

We are systematically working to improve our understanding of the same America, Europe and Korea. There are a number of outstanding spots, such as Brazil, where we have started to work recently. Middle East countries, we have not yet covered. There’s a feature: the Arabic script is written from right to left, it means that we actually have to play the whole “mirror your.”

Victor Sour
Founder and CEO of Wargaming
– Born in 1976 in Minsk. In 1999 he graduated from the Physics Department of the Belarusian State University on specialty “physicist laser scientists’
– 1998 founded the company” Game Stream “, which is engaged in production of computer games. The company released a Game DBA Online, Massive Assault, «Operation” Bagration »/ Order of War. In 1998, he registered a company Wargaming, became its general director
– 2004 Since then, and to 2010, Wargaming has developed games such as Massive Assault, Massive Assault Network, Massive Assault: Domination, «Inhabited Island”, “Operation” Bagration “and the Order of War. In 2010, Wargaming launched World of Tanks (under testing).

– With such a significant share of Russian players in World of Tanks much the crisis in Russia has affected business Wargaming? Have the people pay less for artifacts in the game? During the crisis of 2008-2009. Many gaming companies have seen the influx of players: people stopped going to the movies, fly on holiday, but did not play less.

– Of course, Russia – a large country in which there is a breakdown of the geopolitical scale. It is clear that these movements of the ruble and the euro were not in our favor and led to a decrease in the US dollar equivalent earnings.

Our audience is very heterogeneous. Also, the game does not force players to pay money. In the game you can spend money, comparable with a few movie tickets, and the student can even play for free.

We have 25% of paying members, and it is a very good result compared to other games. The games industry is the concept of “whale” – a senior manager who drives a black “Mercedes” and whose salary is measured by numbers with lots of zeros. He does not care how much to pay. But World of Tanks is constructed in such a way that there can not spend $ 1,000 a month. I have here could spend the same amount, but I do not know what (laughs). The game is made in such a way that there is no explanation for such amount per month. $ 10 is worth a premium account, plus a couple of dozen, well, hundreds of dollars on collection tanks ($ 5-40) or the local currency.

So these “whales” do not feel the difference – spend a few tens of dollars per game, or a couple of hundred. Therefore, among the audience, we change the payments have not noticed. Pupils and students, of course, began to pay less – you can see that the purchasing power has fallen.

Games like silence

– Analysts have estimated Superdata Wargaming revenues in 2014 of $ 505 million. As far as this estimate is correct? [1,999,003]

– Companies, especially large ones, do not like to give direct assessment of their business. Therefore, I would not like to comment on this evaluation.
This is due primarily to the competitive struggle. We are not alone in this glade, there are other similar games, there is a complete copy. This is a very competitive industry. And if you know how much money the competitors, you can roughly predict their maneuvers. Therefore it is good if competitors do not have a clue about how you yourself are flexible in their maneuvers.

I can only say that Wargaming revenues in the hundreds of millions of dollars. It is understood that due to the fall of the ruble, our dollar revenues, to put it mildly, has not increased. As far as she grew up, it is not very important. We all still expect that the situation will improve, there will be peace and all will go back on track.

But the rescue can be affected by other factors, not necessarily macro. For example, any changes in the game. Example: Last year, we released a new version of World of Tanks, in which we made some technical mistakes: the storyboard of the game was slow due to the fact that there is something bad draws. The rate has fallen by an average of 10%. We have released a vague historical battles that what we did not fully meet the expectations of users. And these two factors immediately affected our results, as the number of users playing simultaneously in two months fell by 20%. And then we went in the fall – and fall in oil prices, the ruble fell. Again there was a fall.

– Fall and audience and revenue?

– and so and so. Game, but do not pay, pay, but did not play. It became worse, we felt it. It is clear that we have taken some measures. For example, in the case of the ruble, we offer users the purchase at a lower rate: people liked it. Therefore, these jumps in the last year there have been with us twice, bad technical patch and the economic situation of the year.

– to disclose you how much you have to pay an average one user World of Tanks, something like ARPU? How much is in Russia and in the world?

– To be honest, I do not know the exact figure. I think it makes no sense to talk about the ARPU, as this is the average temperature in the hospital. When the game reached such proportions that already captures the countries and continents, to talk about the ARPU is meaningless. Also, the game is very different age groups – from seven years of age and above. I believe that it is necessary to introduce segmentation: it is necessary to look separately ARPU «China» and «student», ARPU Russians and Japanese.

Although we play is designed so that there can be a large ARPU. I can give a ballpark figure – $ 25 per person per month paying, although I could be wrong. But that does not mean anything. We have built our game so that people willingly pay as much as he can afford. And this is very important. There are games where you do not pay, then you will not pass. Such games cause people to make impulsive purchases – this is especially handy done via mobile devices. We even have to pay to go to a certain terminal, some form filling. Moroka in general.

– So you hampers business itself?

– Well, no, it’s on your computer – there’s just such an infrastructure. Smartphones easier.
ARPU of $ 25 is made up of the premium account and a bit of rest. And often it is not because people can not afford to pay, he simply no longer consumes.

Therefore, in this cheap entertainment like World of Tanks, the percentage of “pillars” is very small. And it is interesting that in Japan – very often one “whales.” In Russia, they are also there, but compared to their percentage of the population is very small.

Of course, we could just make some brilliant tank for $ 10 000. However, there is already included such a factor – people will not understand (laughs). We were able to afford it only in China. Our Chinese partner, just pushing it, saying, give a gold tank – need for gifts and t. N. Have costs $ 400.

– Gold iPhones, say, in China is very popular …

– Yes. But we must understand that we have an international game. As soon as you enter something in one country, it is starting to be discussed intensively throughout the world – in forums, social networks. And for the gold tank, which we did at the request of the Chinese workers, our workers told us: “not good.” But such talk spoil our reputation, which is very important. So the more we will not do this.

line of attack

– Except for the popular World of Tanks you have any other game – World of Warplanes, World of Warships. Are they popular?

– With World of Warplanes we probably hurried, wrong in some places. We are now studying it, trying to do something to correct. With World of Warships is like all very good. Now there is a closed testing phase: We do use behavioral mechanisms to understand whether people like the game, and where and what should be changed. While all statistical parameters in a closed Bat excellent, and in all regions.

– Last year Wargaming came to the US market. How successful this way turned out to be? How did Wargaming developing in international markets?

– say that “we took the States”, of course, impossible. This market is very competitive, not only in the games – in all areas. But we got there some kind of an audience. This older men who drive children to the tank museum, watching Discovery Channel. The next task was to reach a younger audience. But it is much more difficult: they have need shooters, they like to play on consoles.

In Europe and the US we still have room to grow. But in Russia there was saturation of the market. Find out in Russia a man who has not heard of World of Tanks, probably no longer possible, except in the forest.

– And there are ideas that could help to win new markets? You do not plan to do, for example, a shooter?

– On this occasion, I still have nothing to say. Of course, we in the company are discussing various options, various new games. But shooters we do not have a position. And no shooter himself. And time is not the shooter, there is no position (laughs).

– And any other ideas or ways to promote products?

– Actually, we operate dynamic analysis: there is some opportunity to promote something, we try. For example, there is the idea of ​​e-sports, we hold competitions. If successful, it increases. So it is with advertising. In different countries, it acts differently. For example, it is believed that TV ads for games ineffective. But this is not always the case – something which is very effective. For example, the same Clash of Clans gave advertisements in between soccer games Super Bowl, in the most expensive advertising time. All were very surprised. But they felt that it is profitable, and we think there is. In general, all this hard work.

As I said, we do not look at the average ARPU users. You can make and $ 27.7, but for that you can ruin a reputation. Briefly sharply earn a lot of money, you can, but then left scorched earth. We saw this effect – when strongly tighten the screws, it then goes to the recession. It is beneficial to revenue was stable or slightly increased. We have identified a few years the number of socially acceptable that people can get out of his pocket. And we do not want it to change significantly. Business such as ours should be conducted peacefully.

Интервью Виктора Кислого для газеты ^Ведомости^

“Postroyushki” and “pokatushki”

– In April, you had a competition in Poland World of Tanks. Similar activities carried out and other game developers. How do you assess the prospects of e-sports? It is a tool to promote the game, or in the future it may become a new large media competing, for example, a conventional television broadcast sport?

– You can not predict the future 5-6 years. But while eSports is developing very well. In general, e-sports was born in South Korea with the television broadcast Starcraft, and all thought it was such a pure Korean chip and she will go no further. When we held the final of last year, the people were two times less than this.

It is now clear that eSports is growing so fast that it is already possible to assume that soon it will be very big – both in terms of audience and, perhaps, for the money. But the question content. It seems to me that it can be compared with the usual activities that people with great pleasure watching on TV.

– That is, in 20 years we’ll look Kiberolimpiyskie game? [1,999,003]

– It is possible. ESports actually born before our eyes, its rules have not yet been established. This is quite a new phenomenon at the crossroads of media streaming, advertising.

eSports – is primarily a show. Last year the competition was attended by 300 000 players and looked even more – tens of millions. In order to show them it was fun, we need a beautiful and dynamic image. That is a new type of visual art – film, just online. The eSports already have elements of a beautiful show business: fights commented, there are prizes, “backing dancers,” it all goes on the air in many languages. In show business always has to be some intrigue, and we eSport its fully observe. It is as difficult to predict who will win, like a conventional sport: here, for example, in this league [in Poland] Chinese Russian beat. Previously, it was unthinkable. So eSports – the same sport, only a little more than a youth.

In the area of ​​crisis

“In 2012, we decided to go on the Cyprus Stock Exchange since the beginning built on the Cyprus headquarters of the company and lead it out fully. Shares on the Stock Exchange have not been sold. According to the rules of the stock exchange as possible. It was the accommodation, which imposes all of the same constraints and requirements that the classical IPO. The fact that we had to, we got we got some kind of name, a little grown up, and felt more confident in the stormy sea of ​​financial instruments (laughs). More we do not need. “

Last year, in an interview with “Vedomosti” Sour said that Wargaming hit by the Cyprus crisis, which resulted in the company became a shareholder in Hellenic Bank and acquired the building in Limassol. “The last crisis was not just an unpleasant moment for our corporate interests, and the challenge for all employees who live here – he said Sour today. – We are regularly paid all taxes, actively promote the reputation of Cyprus and contribute to the development of the country, so to talk about some losses not entirely true. Of course, we went through some difficulties, but as is the case with the purchase of shares of the bank Hellenic, the crisis has opened for us new possibilities. Our company – one of the existing shareholders in Hellenic, there are people who represent our interests there, with our participation in its work is limited. Wargaming – is primarily a game developer and publisher, known all over the world, so in other spheres of activity for us is not so important. The Cyprus economy in the I quarter of 2015 increased by 1.6%, the country is gradually restoring its financial and investment attractiveness. Local authorities have very accurately and consistently conducted a program of reform, which was recommended eurozone countries and the IMF, and in the long term we look at the economic situation in the country with great optimism. “

– Can I have considered eSports business?

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