Running a continuous game service presents a challenge of not only keeping the game up-to-date, but keeping customers happy, said Wargaming.net CEO Victor Kislyi.
Kislyi told GamesIndustry International that developers "have to keep improving, keeping up to the standard" as their games age. The CEO applied this specifically to World of Tanks, the company's free-to-play tank simulator developed in 2010.
"If you looked at World of Tanks two years ago, when we launched it, it looked like a piece of crap," Kislyi said. "Now we have physics, and lighting, and many tanks, thousands of maps — it's a new game."
According to Kislyi, games like World of Tanks will run at least five years, maxing out anywhere between seven and 10. Keeping that game current during that time is paramount.
"New players who download World of Tanks, they are not comparing it with 2008 graphics, they are comparing it to today's hit games," Kislyi said. "For our audience, which has consumed all the content we have, they want new tanks, new gaming modes, historical scenarios; they want a lot of things. You have to cater to them as well. So you have to keep developing."
World of Tanks most recently added a British line of armored vehicles with its 8.1 update.
But simply keeping a game up to standard isn't enough; customer service is needed as well. Wargaming.net uses 600 out of their 1,200 or so employees for customer service tasks.
"Millions of players generate millions of problems, so you have to handle that," Kislyi said.
The company gives the same attention to non-paying players as those that do pay, said Kislyi, and runs forums in as many languages as possible. Communicating to players why certain choices were made, or why mechanics can or can't exist is part of the job.
"You have to sell your game over and over and over again," Kislyi said.
In addition to continuing updates on World of Tanks, Wargaming.net is also currently running World of Warplanes in beta; another naval-driven game, World of Battleships, is still in development.