While the majority of Wargaming’s 150 million registered World of Tanks players are on PC, the company continues to look for new ways to engage with console gamers. The company’s latest effort to market the free-to-play WWII brand to a global console audience is through Xbox Live Arena support, which opens up new opportunities for Wargaming’s esports initiatives.
TJ Wagner, creative director and executive producer at Wargaming’s Chicago and Baltimore studios, told AListDaily that Xbox Live Arena support will allow anyone to create clubs and customized user-generated tournaments on Xbox One.
“We are working closely with Microsoft to carefully implement Arena into World of Tanks,” Wagner explained. “Arena is a great tool that allows players to create tournaments and publishers like ourselves to sponsor major events. The Wargaming development team is working with Microsoft to create the necessary tools to seamlessly integrate World of Tanks into the Xbox ecosystem.”
Along with the release of user-generated tournaments, gamers can now sign up for the first Wargaming Skirmish, which will take place on September 15.
Wagner said that both Wargaming and Microsoft are marketing these Arena competitions across social media, their respective game portals and directly from the Arena platform.
“These Wargaming Skirmishes will be our first tournaments with prizing,” Toby Mast, senior producer of the World of Tanks, told AListDaily. “As these become more competitive, it may lead to even larger tournaments with higher number of teams, longer-running events and improved prizing.”
Initial prizing will include in-game currency and virtual items but are opportunities for brands and sponsors to step in or host their own custom tournaments. Hollywood studios like 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros. Pictures have worked with Wargaming in recent years to cross-promote films like Fury and Dunkirk, which could open opportunities for film swag, tickets and other items to be won through competitive play.
To date, the focus of Wargaming esports has been solely on PC, where the majority of World of Tanks gamers reside. That league play has attracted brands like Facebook, Intel, PayPal, SanDisk and Razer to connect with that audience.
“Over the past few years, we’ve worked with our community leaders to host Wargaming Community Tournaments (WCL),” Mast said. “During these WCL events, we’ve seen a consistent increase in the number of teams participating and we know they are eager for more frequent competitive events. Now with Xbox Live Arena, the process to host user-generated tournaments is all within the console and much easier than ever before. Our community is already planning to create their own tournaments, so we expect UGTs to grow quickly.”
As the global World of Tanks esports ecosystem grows on consoles, Wargaming is looking for better ways to integrate sponsors.
“We’re very excited for the future of esports on the console,” Mast said. “World of Tanks has the perfect player base for sponsored events, so we’ll see what opportunities will be revealed as Xbox Live Arena participation grows.”
These tournaments on Xbox Live Arena can live separately from the established World of Tanks global esports league, which makes it easy for brands to host and run their own console tournaments.
“Arena allows Wargaming to bring an esports component to World of Tanks on console, something our players have been asking about for some time,” Wagner said. “Our console team is dedicated to player happiness, so we are happy to bring something to our tankers that they have been asking for.”
Mast added that the plan is to add a tournament structure to PlayStation 4 in the near future, further expanding the esports opportunities across console for this free-to-play brand.