Wargaming has continued to expand its already massive audience worldwide, now reaching more than 100 million players. The company has now grown to over 3500 employees worldwide, and has expanded onto mobile with World of Tanks Blitz — that title has been downloaded more than 8 million times so far, and it’s just getting started. The Xbox 360 version of World of Tanks has over 5.4 million downloads and an impressive set of statistics, as the infographic reveals. World of Tanks has been joined by World of Warplanes, and soon World of Warships will continue to expand the array of Wargaming combat titles.

Mohammed Fadl

For Wargaming, eSports has been an important aspect of the gameplay and the community. The game runs on competition, after all, and there’s nothing like being in a group with other players to get you to play more often. The [a]listdaily caught up with Mohamed Fadl, Director of eSports Europe and North America, as he was on the road for yet another eSports competition, to ask him some questions about the importance of eSports to Wargaming, and its future.

How important has eSports been to World of Tanks?

For us it was actually the other way around. World of Tanks was important for eSports as our community used it to create their own eSports environment. We never planned to be an eSports game with World of Tanks when we first launched. Now having our league running for almost two years, things have changed tremendously. eSports became the highest level of gaming experience for World of Tanks, and our professional teams drive passion, skill and even new content creation within our game on a global scale. eSports became a crucial component in our end game and new content is growing with every battle played.

Do you think eSports will be equally important to World of Warplanes and World of Warships?

It’s hard to say at this point. We learned one big lesson with World of Tanks; the community drives eSports and activities like it. It must grow naturally by itself. If you try to force or control it with too much pressure you will break the momentum in your own game. That’s why we ultimately let the community decide if and when they want to drive eSports within our other games. What I can say is that we will be there, ready and waiting for them to give us the green light.

How are brands getting involved with World of Tanks and eSports Is this going to be more important in the future?

Brands and partners are and will be crucial for our eSports activities. Not just for Wargaming itself but also for all our pro teams. One major focus within our Wargaming eSports ecosystem team is helping teams to get sponsors and partnerships so they can establish their team as a brand itself and have a future within the eSports universe. Our goal is to make sure that these teams will stay and help the overall growth and sustainability of the eSports scene even if they decide to play other games.

How do you see eSports developing over the next year or two, both for World of Tanks and for the industry in general?

For World of Tanks, eSports will focus on helping the pro teams turn their passion into a lifelong career and not just a hobby. The other point we will focus on within the next two years is to create a strong eSports ecosystem which will guide our players from the first steps in the competitive world up to the stage of the Grand Finals. An important part of this ecosystem is to create an entertainment system which covers every single point within our ecosystem and makes it easy accessible, fun and rewarding; both as a spectator and a player.

For the industry overall, I foresee eSports finding its position in the general media/entertainment section within every household around the globe. It will most likely change and transform as what we call eSports today; this is just the beginning. We scratched the surface of something much bigger and it’s up to everyone now to make sure we are a positive part in the evolution of entertainment.

More publishers are trying to get their games adopted as eSports. What will take for them to be successful, both within the game and from the company in terms of support and organization?

What’s most important is that companies create the games they believe in and what they wanted to build in the first place. To try and create an eSports product without having the support of your community behind it is nearly impossible. If the players love your game and want to turn it into an eSport, then they will do it. What is important is to then be ready to jump in and to pick up the ball. So be flexible and open minded, and don’t try to force something on the players that you don’t believe in just because someone said it’s not an eSport. Someone within the industry once told me that the 7v7 eSports format will never be successful which is why no one else uses it. Fast forward to the current state of our eSports league and we now have over hundreds of thousands of players playing it… you always have to trust your own instincts.