Wargaming, the company behind free-to-play hits such as World of Warships, teamed up with Dark Horse Comics last month for a special series based on the highly popular World of Tanks games.
Titled World of Tanks: Roll Out!, the limited edition series will focus on events that unfold during the summer of 1944, with comic book veterans Garth Ennis and Carlos Ezquerra taking part in the production.
[a]listdaily recently had a chance to chat with Wargaming America’s director of marketing, Erik Whiteford, and business development manager, Bryan Nunes, about what to expect from the product and partnership, and the potential for new stories to be told in the future.
What prompted Wargaming to produce a comic book series? Was there another side of the World of Tanks story you were looking to tell?
Erik: We are always looking for interesting and unique ways to tell stories about tanks and create a deeper connection to lore of tanks–especially as they relate to WWII. A graphic novel is a great way of doing this as this genre of storytelling was very popular during the war and in the post-war era. When the opportunity to work with Dark Horse, Garth Ennis, and Carlos Ezquerra presented itself we knew that that stars had aligned and this was the perfect partnership.
For us, it’s not so much about telling another side of the story, but rather accessing another medium to celebrate and relive the lore. Many of our players are true tankophiles and love anything that has to do with tanks, so we felt that creating a graphic novel based on WWII tanks would be well received and celebrated by our players. We want to deliver an opening, to become engrossed within a story that speaks true to the nature of our passion. Something we felt, would extend our WoT brand and give any type of person, whether that be a Gamer, Comic Enthusiast, history buff and all the in-between, an engaging piece of artistic work, crafted by the genius minds of Garth Ennis and Carlos Ezquerra.
Did Dark Horse Comics come to you with the idea for a comic book series, or did you approach them?
Bryan: Originally, we reached to Dark Horse for licensing products and to potentially have them publish art/interactive books. We did discuss the possibility of creating a comic book for WoT as one of the options. In the end, we just waited for the right opportunity and right story to tell as we want this endeavor to ring true with our players.
How were you able to snag such top-form talent for the World of Tanks comic?
Bryan: It was during PAX East 2015 in the middle of the worst storm Boston has ever seen: A PR guy, a marketing guy and a business development guy walk into a bar. One thing led to another, and BOOM, Garth Ennis’s is working on the WoT comic. The detailed answer is…
Alex Brewer (senior PR manager), a comic book PR veteran, was passionate about creating a comic for World of Tanks since he started at Wargaming America and actually came in with the connection to Dark Horse comics. Thor Parker (marketing coordinator for Wargaming’s Chicago office) has worked with Garth Ennis in the past from his time at NYC’s legendary Midtown Comics. Thor kept a great relationship with him, so when he reached out to Garth and described the opportunity and told him about Wargaming; Garth’s interest was stimulated. At that point, Garth described to Thor a story he had been wanting to write, about the British Cromwell units that entered Normandy a month after D-Day. He said he had been compiling research for some time but never got around to digging deeper and writing it. After seeing World of Tanks, his motivation for the story returned
The fact that he had already wanted to write a story that fixated on different historical National Tanks, was incredible luck.
How many issues will the series be spread across?
Bryan: It is a five issue graphic novel series following story-arc throughout the five issues. Every issue will be distributed both digitally and physically at the same time/day of release.
If successful, do you see Wargaming returning to the comic book front for other franchises? A World of Warships comic, perhaps?
Erik: Perhaps. Right now the focus is on the World of Tanks: Roll Out project. But we are always looking for unique and creative ways to bring our players and fans interesting stories and content.
What do you think about the free-to-play gaming market as it stands?
Erik: We’re very bullish on the free-to-play category. It continues to be a very successful model on PC and mobile and we are really excited about the growth we are seeing on console. We are also focused on distinguishing our model (call it “Free-to-Win” or “Premium Free-to-Play”) from other models that are more in the “Pay-to-Win” models, as they really offer very different experiences for players. We believe as more and more players experience Premium Free-to-Play games, they will better understand the differences between the models. In the end, our focus is on providing great value for the time and money our players commit to World of Tanks and our other products.