World of Tanks Blitz has become one of the most popular and recognizable free-to-play games on mobile and other platforms. Its fun and sometimes humorous nature make it a delight to play for players everywhere, whether on mobile, PC, or console.
Now, the hit tank game is available on the Nintendo Switch so owners of the popular hybrid system, as well as the Switch Lite, will be able to take in all of the chaos that World of Tanks Blitz brings. Featuring different online game modes and unique maps (including one in outer space) there's a bit of something for everyone.
We had a chance to talk to Thaine Lyman, General Manager of Wargaming, about the game's launch on Switch, its importance on iOS and Android, and about how big mobile gaming can become.
Colin Mieczkowski: How does it feel to get World of Tanks Blitz on a popular system like the Nintendo Switch?
Thaine Lyman: The Nintendo Switch and World of Tanks Blitz both subscribe to the same philosophy: play wherever you are, whenever you want. This is our first time getting our game onto a console system, and the fact that it perfectly matches our sensibilities makes it even better. The Nintendo Switch is one of the most rapidly growing consoles on the market right now and offers something unique to gaming consoles, so to be on the platform is definitely something special.
CM: What are some of the big things players can expect from the game on Switch?
TL: When we began developing the Nintendo Switch version, we wanted to make sure that Blitz supported some of the console’s unique features. For example, the graphics will be 1080p when docked and in TV mode. It’s also playable on both Switch and Switch Lite and players can choose whether to use touch controls or the Joy-Cons when handheld. Players can also take advantage of the “accelerometer” settings to improve the aiming in both the handheld and TV modes. Additionally, both modes run at 30FPS.
In the near future, we plan to release more custom options for controls and that’ll be good news for players who like to use inverted aiming. But that’s not all, we’re going to continue to support and improve the game itself by releasing new content, improving the graphics, and really getting the most out of the Switch and coming up with even more game modes and events.
CM: How important was it to include cross-play?
TL: Cross-play has been a staple of World of Tanks Blitz ever since we launched on Steam almost four years ago, and since then we’ve expanded even further to Windows 10 and macOS. So, when we decided we wanted to bring Blitz to Switch, there was no question about including cross-play.
CM: Being free-to-play is certainly a signature aspect of World of Tanks Blitz on mobile devices. How critical was it for you guys to continue this model for the Switch?
TL: We wanted to keep our game free-to-play to make it fair for everyone no matter the platform they choose to enjoy the game on. To us, it’s very important to provide the same gameplay on each platform and it means players can freely switch between devices while still getting a uniform experience on each. Nintendo fully supported us and there were no boundaries for us in staying true to our original identity.
CM: For players who haven’t played yet, what are some of your favorite aspects of the game that you think new players should check out or take note of?
TL: World of Tanks Blitz takes the core ideas of World of Tanks and moves them in a more over-the-top direction and cranks up the gameplay speed. The battles are quicker, you see and engage with enemies faster, and some of our special modes (like Gravity Games, Uprising, Mad Games) bend the rules of the universe more. Take Gravity Games, for example, we introduced big changes like massive jumps and more free-flowing physics while tankers did battle on the Moon. In Uprising, players were given special powers, they could unlock new abilities mid-mission and also respawn.
But at the very core, you still get to play with a huge roster of awesome looking, faithfully rendered tanks that are powerful, fun to command and reward thoughtful gameplay. It isn’t just about how quick you can react; it takes more than that to be a great commander. Blitz stands out as its own very distinct entry in the World of Tanks universe and we’re excited that the Switch opens up the opportunity for a whole new group of gamers and budding tankers to enjoy it.
CM: World of Tanks Blitz has been downloaded over 137 million times. How amazed are you with the immense popularity of the game?
TL: Seeing how the game has grown over the 6 years since its release, we couldn’t be happier. Today, the game is more successful, better, and being played by more people than ever before and our audience continues to ask us for even more new features and content. You can’t help but be excited with how well the game is doing right now, but that doesn’t mean we're resting on our laurels; there are still so many more opportunities out there for us to explore!
CM: With the majority of World of Tanks Blitz's success coming from portable devices, how big do you think mobile gaming (Switch and Switch Lite included) will continue to get?
TL: Mobile gaming has grown at an enormous rate over the past few years and there’s a reason why mobile games account for 56% of the market: not everyone has a console or top-notch gaming PC these days, but they most likely have a mobile device. As for Blitz, the average daily session is 110 minutes, and there are no signs of this slowing down either.
It’s also interesting to see how handheld consoles are growing. The Switch was the best-selling console during the 2019 Christmas season, surpassing both the PS4 and the Xbox One. Additionally, we’re seeing a trend of growth of free-to-play on Nintendo Switch and we’re curious to see how this increase of options will affect gamers’ interaction with this kind of business model on the platform in the future.
CM: Finally, what are some things fans can expect from the game going forward?
We like to keep some aces up our sleeves, but we will continue to release new high-quality content (maps, tanks, customization options), experiment and push the boundaries with innovative gaming modes, and surprise players with all types of cool collabs. We also plan to continue to improve the graphics and the in-game clan functionality.