Feature Article

Interview: How the World of Tanks Team Is Locked and Loaded for PS4

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Multiplayer vehicular war game World of Tanks has finally made its way to PlayStation 4. The free-to-play game first launched in North America for PC in 2011, followed with an Xbox 360 release in 2014, and hit the Xbox One in July 2015. With the game now available for current-generation platforms, we speak to lead game designer Jeff Gregg about the challenges of bringing the game to PS4, and discuss the future of the free-to-play genre.

GameSpot: What are the key differences in graphical fidelity that we can expect from the PS4 version of the game when compared to the Xbox One version?

Gregg: Graphically, we made a big point to try and make sure that they were on par with each other. Both machines are so powerful in different ways that our content was able to look almost the same. If you showed me two screens and put a gun to me head and said, "Which one is the PS4?" I probably could not tell you if there was no HUD elements on.

So we didn't hold back, but just the content we had that we're moving over to the PS4 looks pretty similar, or has almost exactly the same fidelity. Which is both cool for the players and for us, just so we can post content to the PS4 faster, and once they're both at parity do stuff for both platforms with less cycles. Hopefully people will just play on whatever console they own and no one's going to feel jipped.

You've worked on the game for both of the current generation consoles. What were the key challenges you faced in bringing the game to the PS4 specifically?

Honestly, the key challenge was integrating with PSN. That's not a ding against Sony's PlayStation Network at all. It's just different enough but does the same things as Xbox Live that we didn't have the same kind of relationship that we had with Microsoft when we first did the 360 version. [Microsoft] was partnered with us. So we were just looking underneath the hood of Xbox Live all the time, you could say. We could say that this needs to be different, and then they would say 'your game needs to be different this way, and you build your structure this way.' And we came together and kumbuya we made a game. I mean it wasn't that easy, but you know what I mean.

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But with PSN it was more like, we would come in and say, "This is how it works," and they would say, "Uh, we don't know… here's how our system works!" It was a lot of trial and error just to get the systems up and running. It's fun to talk about now because it's behind us, but when we did the first open beta for the PlayStation… I wish there was a giant red handle to turn on the servers, because part of it was like, "Is it going to work?" We'd never done it on that big of a radius and with that many people trying to access the server at the same time. And it did. So like, yay. I mean I'm not trying to paint us as idiots being all, "Oh whatever, it works!" But that integration was not as easy as we thought it would be. I think that was the case for both sides of the fence, for Sony and for us. Now that it's working right we're ecstatic.

Do you think we'll ever see crossplay between the two versions?

If you put that in front of my desk to sign, I would be like "Absolutely!" But the real truth is when you're in Sony you're in your PSN account. All of your handshaking, and all your account details, what tanks you own, it's all kept in their ecosystem. And it's the same thing with Microsoft. Those two parties just don't talk to each other. Linking back to your previous question, they're both very different structures. We can't do it. Until they talk to each other, if they ever choose to, and I'm not saying that they should just talk to each other, but that'd be awesome. But there's such a big barrier that it's not really in our hands. The systems are setup to work, your account is tied to PSN or XBL, and that's just the way it is.

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What are some modes you'd like to bring into the game in future?

One of the big pushes that we're doing, we've done a lot of work trying to get people that are new to the game. Especially since we knew we were going to have a tournament for new players on the PS4. It's to teach them what's cool about World of Tanks without just throwing them into the fire. We've discussed it, and a lot of times just going into a multiplayer game where you're fighting other humans that want you dead, it can be like "How do I move--oh I'm dead." That's not really great. So we made this system called IPX, or Initial Player Experience. It's to try and teach you how to play without insulting you and taking you to school. Or lying about what the experience is going to be once you start facing other people.

What a lot of our focus in this is, what are the social elements? What keeps you coming back? What are our opportunities? What does esports even look like on consoles for World of Tanks? What does any kind of tournament that we can do look like? How can we expand the clan systems to make sense within the console environment? That's where a lot of our focus is. Now that we have the infrastructure and all these awesome consoles, and the awesomeness that is Sony's PS4, we can start using our bandwidth and our engineering time to figure out what that's going to look like. There's stuff that will hopefully come soon that will be really exciting on those fronts.

It is a case of the studio focusing on bringing updates to the PS4 version to bring it up to scratch to the other platforms? Or are you still updating the Xbox One version and bringing in new content in at the same time?

Everything. Everybody's important, every console is important. Our creative director TJ Wagner basically sat everybody down and said, "This is the new thing! Everybody look at the shiny new thing!" I mean, it wasn't quite as melodramatic and formal as it sounds… but the reason we live and breathe and exist, until the PS4 version launched, was our Xbox players. And they're going to get just as much love. It might be different love sometimes, because of contractual obligations. But nobody gets left behind. We are going to make sure that both consoles always get love.

I don't know how to speak to speed, but the short answer is yes, new stuff will keep coming before parity is reached. Because new stuff is always cool. It was in the pipe before the PS4 was even born, and we're not changing that.

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What are the major differences you face working on a more traditional disc-based game versus a free-to-play game?

Living up to the expectations of the player. We can honestly, and obviously, do whatever we want, right? But we always have to anticipate what the new people are going to think about this new feature. What are the pros, the hardcore people that are playing thousands of hours going to think about this feature? Is it what they're asking for? Is it right for the game? What is this going to do to our balance? What is this going to do for our economic model?

The fact that we have people that like what is on their televisions right now because they're playing it, is an expectation that is really different from a disc-game. It's basically a game you're making for a couple of focus testers in the development team. You shoot it out there and you hope everyone wants it. There's a danger of dipping [in audience] with every new feature modification. That takes a lot of time--whenever something is added or removed or changed we consider all the angles and make sure that it's going to meet its goals and that nobody's going to rage quit the game.

It's really important, and I really actually enjoy listening to what people say about that kind of stuff. It's a two-way street, and it's super exciting for a designer to have multiple clients and hear what they think and hear "oh they love it!" That's really fun.

What are your thoughts on where the free-to-play genre is going?

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The bulk of my career before Wargaming has been disc product or cartridge product, if you want to date me. You put stuff on a physical piece of media, you throw it out there, you hope they like it, and maybe after some DLC and some patches, that is what it is. I think the cool thing that free-to-play has because it's a zero barrier to entry in terms of money, it has this ability to adapt to not just what the development team wants to do, but what the audience is demanding. If you think of a difference between a play and stand-up comedy or improv, where you're looking straight at the audience, you can know right away if you're bombing and you can try to adjust. Hopefully you don't panic. I think that is amazing.

Where I think, or where I hope free-to-play and a lot of these games go is kind of similar to what I mentioned before. Removing that barrier to when you can play. A step in that direction is like the Vita and the PS4, where you can play anywhere you are. And the social aspect. Because people ultimately keep playing because they're part of a community and they really enjoy either actively engaging and making a clan or even engaging with the social aspects above and beyond more than the matchmaker. I think that is where a lot of the free-to-play to games are going to go. More into a social environment and removing as many barriers as they possibly can to just playing the game.

Like if I had unlimited funds and a magic genie who could make wishes I would make the same system on every piece of hardware that has instant invites and it will just find you. We can just form a clan and there's absolutely no barriers to you jumping in a game when you want and leaving and that whole ecosystem is preserved. That's where I want it to go in future.

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Zorine Te

Zorine “harli” Te is an editor based in GameSpot's Australian office. She wants to save the world.
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Avatar image for lomar07

This game is really fun, only problem is that if your tank gets blown up you can't respawn again.

Avatar image for battlestreak

Could never get into this game. Maybe I'll try again.

Avatar image for LoganDaDestroya

I really like the console dev team for this game, I've got two tier 9s on PC with around 6000 games played and I can honestly say they're doing a fantastic job improving it over the PC. ESPECIALLY the experience for new players. They do very simple things: They limit the MM of tiers 1 - 3 and give you lots of on screen hints. The PC version by comparison is terrible at teaching new players anything about the game and gives you harsh MM that makes you question why you're getting into it.

The daily ops are awesome as well, the current ones where doing well in a heavy can net you 6000 extra xp for it is really damn cool and gives a much better incentive to keep playing than a simple 2x for first win. The PC dev team can really learn from these guys.

Avatar image for howiex89

Great game, and the Pay to Win comments are clearly said by people with no clue

Avatar image for deanmanwalking2

Wonder if it's still going to have pay to win and horribly unbalanced aspects. Of course it is.

Avatar image for sladakrobot

@deanmanwalking2: What is your experience with WoT so you claim its pay to win and unbalanced?

Avatar image for Agermemnon

@sladakrobot: I've played it plenty myself on PC, 360 and Xone and I have to admit, it's becoming PtW more and more, gold ammo spamming is crazy at times, gold tanks only available to a "certain region" and match making has been nothing short of poo for quite some time now.

There used to be 5 of us that would play it regularly all with premium accounts but that's stopped now and tiers 6 and above are a joke mm wise.

This video is funny but sums up Wargaming.net for many many payers..


Avatar image for sladakrobot

@Agermemnon: I can agree that premium rounds are used alot in tier 9(when they meet a tier 10 tank) and tier 10 anyways coz repairs cost alot in these tiers and noone wants to die before they destroyed at least one tank before lol

With that said,even the most legit gamers have 4-5 premium rounds in stock. Its not something bad to use it in difficult situations.

My experiences in WoT are that from tier 1 up to tier 5 there reigns only chaos.

From tier 6 upward ones can see often a structured split across the map and fight for key positions.

I would say that tier 7 and tier 9 and are the most fun tiers to play.

Ofcourse sometimes you will be thrown in a uneven match(the other side has more higher tier tanks) but that also happens sometimes in your favour too.

WoT is imo all about knowing whats your tanks strenghts and the tanks weaknesses.the weakspots of the enemy tanks and knowledge of the maps. If you have some good buddies,most of the times you can turn an almost lost match into a win with some clever team tactic.

Avatar image for rosinmonkekyx17

@sladakrobot: Don't you just love when you're a tier 5 tank pitted up against tier 7's and your gun does nothing

Avatar image for sladakrobot

@rosinmonkekyx17: I dunno...my BDR G1 can hurt alot T7 tanks.

I may not survive a T7 match but i usually deal enough damage to be ranked in top 5 at the end.

I am often the leader on the board.

Avatar image for rosinmonkekyx17

@sladakrobot: If you ever played the beta for the 360, you get a free premium T5 tank

And it is terrible, against T7

Although if you pit it against T5's or lower, it would be considered OP'd, got 10 kills with it once :P

Shows how OP'd premium tanks are sometimes

And how weak lower tier tanks can be, my M4 Sherman? Does nothing to a T6

My Churchill (forgot which number) does nothing against higher tiers, they really need to balance it so they don't have four T5's, and the rest of the team T6's

Avatar image for sladakrobot

@rosinmonkekyx17: I got myself the T5 as reward for playing the beta version.

I sold it coz i was short on garage space as many achievements required 5 tanks for each country back then.

Like i said,you will find in every line a turd here and there.

The churchil is kinda ok but noone wants to own a Churchil :-)
You go trought it to get to the Black Prince or for the later beast called Conqueror.

M4 is a medium tank and as such you never go frontal to other tanks.
For that your penetration is probably to low but you can shoot faster on other hand.
U use their speed and manouverbilty to flank other tanks or to sneak behind them and destroy them by shooting at their backend.

Avatar image for rosinmonkekyx17

@sladakrobot: Not necessarily, medium tanks can be used for frontal assault, especially when the other team has a less number of heavy tanks

M4 Sherman's upgraded turret, the 105mm is good penetration and rate of fire, making it an ideal all around tank

Avatar image for Agermemnon

@sladakrobot: I see stupid tactics across all tiers and more so the higher tiers and we all noticed that in say a tier 7 - 9 game the tier 9's would be spamming premium ammo at the tier 7 vehicles, even Jingles and other youtube WoT players note this daft as f--- behaviour.

At it's core WoT is a fun game but there needs to be changes in the MM imo, you don't need seal clubbing in a game to keep it fun so why persist with that mechanic. Some of the best games we've played as a group were all predominantly filled with the same tier vehicles.

How long will Wargaming make PS4 players wait for the British,French,Chinese and Japanese lines or haven't they said ? I bet the store to purchase gold is up and running perfectly though eh ? lol.

Avatar image for sladakrobot

@Agermemnon: I can speak only about the X360/X1 version and it took a while till we got another countries tanks back then.
But since they are already made for the X1/X360 version,it shouldnt take too long for the PS4 players to get them.

Avatar image for Agermemnon

@sladakrobot: I only really play it myself on the Xone version these days but I'm thinking if they take as long to give them the 4 missing nations tank lines to the PS4 players as long as they have with getting ( and still not there ) the maps from 360 to Xone, they could be in for quite a wait lol.

Avatar image for deanmanwalking2

@sladakrobot: Around 4 years of playing it on PC.

Avatar image for sladakrobot

@deanmanwalking2: That is very unspecific.

Avatar image for deanmanwalking2

@sladakrobot: How is that very unspecific? You asked what my experience was and I said I've had 4 years worth of experience playing WoT.

Avatar image for sladakrobot

@deanmanwalking2: you didnt explained whats horribly unbalanced what makes you think its p2w.

Avatar image for deanmanwalking2

@sladakrobot: Agermemnon did a pretty good job of explaining it. Premium ammo is the most pay to win aspect.

Horribly unbalanced things being things such as artillery, premium ammo, tanks just being straight broken OP (Like the T110E5 right now). Other tanks being just dreadful in comparison to everything else. The plus 2/minus 2 matchmaking, the spotting system...The list goes on.

Avatar image for sladakrobot

@deanmanwalking2: The E5 has one of the most obvious weakspots so how can that tank be OP?

Well,its for sure not OP in the console version since i have that tank.

My win ratio with the E5 is just 50% and i consider myself a good player. I like the tank very much but i must be very carefull coz pretty every tank can penetrate my armor... have better stats with other tier 10 tanks...IS7,Object 268,T57 Heavy,T62A...53- 55%

What about the arty?

Ofcourse you will find in every tanks line some turds .

Imo,you must know whats your playstyle and you can check every tanks tree and their stats before you go for a tank.

I agree with you with the difference up to 2 tiers in matchmaking...i wrote so many times in forums that 1 tier of difference should be the max.

Avatar image for deanmanwalking2

@sladakrobot: What is your experience with WoT? You only have the console version?

There are bound to be so many things different from the console to the PC version. In the PC version, that big cupola on the E5 isn't a weakspot, they screwed it up in a recent patch and now it has 260 mm armour at least so it's basically unpennable.

What about arty? If you need told about that then you obviously mustn't have much experience with WoT.

Avatar image for sladakrobot

@deanmanwalking2: I played it 2 years long on PCs,then switched over as soon the X360 came out and the same as the X1 version came out.

You still didnt answer in which way arties are a problem!

Are the arties in PC version to accurate?

I have myself a tier 7 french arty (going for the tier 10 B-C-T) and the tier 8 US arty M43/something(i am going for the tier 9 version).

It is now obvious that the pc version and the console version arent the same in many aspects.
Problems on PCs arent the problems on consoles.
I guess,if you still have a slight lust for tanks,you should try the X1 or the PS4 version out. Costs you nothing and you get even some gold currency as a new player.

Avatar image for deanmanwalking2

@sladakrobot: Everything about arty is broken. The fact they can one shot you is broken, the fact they can miss you and still do 800 damage is broken, the fact they can sit at the edge of the map and shoot you all day without any risk to them is broken, the fact that one shot from them can destroy multiple crew and modules is broken, the fact that a single tank can completely change the way everyone in a game has to play (and so play worse because they aren't able to do what their tanks are designed for) is broken, the fact that in arty games everyone is too scared to move out of cover for fear of having their game ruined in a single shot from arty and so resort to camping is broken. Arty is just completely broken and brings nothing positive to the game.

I don't know what arty is like in the console versions, but it's broken.

Avatar image for sladakrobot

@deanmanwalking2: The survive battle ratios of both of my arties are only 34%.

My experience with arties are that no of the teammates care about you.

They leave you alone and more often then not,the enemies fast light tanks finds out where you are and will destroy you.
The arties can do alot of damage but for that,they need to reload 30+ seconds for the next shot.Stay in cover,hear the sound of the arties missile land somewhere,now you have 30+ seconds to damage or destroy things before you find a cover again :-)

Avatar image for rosinmonkekyx17

@sladakrobot: Lol nobody wants to cover in arty

Most med tanks I play with run up with heavies, the only tanks that stay behind are really the snipers

Avatar image for eoisten

pay to win, no thanks

Avatar image for sladakrobot

@eoisten: You have no idea

Avatar image for eoisten

@sladakrobot: ohh i am sorry did I miss the memo were they were doing away with the 4 tier entry packages that increase in cost and the number of premium tanks, silver, Premium time and garage slots they give you from the get go. Not to mention that they even added ''get the competitive edge on the battle field with this entry tier''.

Lets not forget spend real money for game money that can be used for game effecting advantages or spending real money to get better takes now instead of grinding for them so ... ya pay to win. but what ever helps you sleep at night.

Avatar image for sladakrobot

@eoisten: 95% of all premium tanks are shit and waste of money...fact.
WoT is probably the most balanced F2P game.
Two players in oposite teams with same tanks meet each other...skilled player wins...fact.

Avatar image for gottago42

Your Question Is the PS4 going to run at a higher fidelity? Hey guys guess what the Xbox One version runs at 1080p so unless the PS4 runs at 4K both console versions will have the same fidelity nice try tho lol

Avatar image for myhomieyoda

@gottago42: get a life kiddo lol you know its sad when you get excited about things like this

Avatar image for deactivated-5d495083aed2b

@gottago42: omg who the hell cares

Avatar image for brazprince

@NTenseify: 3years in and the same nonsense shows up when will it end lmao

Avatar image for rosinmonkekyx17

CoD with tanks

Avatar image for sladakrobot

@rosinmonkekyx17: You never played WoT

Avatar image for rosinmonkekyx17

@sladakrobot: Is that an assumption?

A poor one that is

Played it on the 360

Reached tier 6 tanks then quit because it got boring overall

Almost hit tier 7 on British tanks :/

But tank prices at higher tiers are overpriced

If you need further proof, let me know, I'd be happy to tell you my Xbox g-tag so you can check yourself

Avatar image for dancegdance

Great article, been playing since day 1 of beta and love it.