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GDC Preview: World of Tanks Blitz for iPad and Wargaming's plans for the future

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Last week's Game Developer's Conference in San Francisco brought together game makers big and small to show off their latest offerings. Among them was Wargaming, a company virtually unknown in the United States a few short years ago, who's since become a household name among war game fans. For GDC, the Belarusian publisher brought its most forward-looking title, World of Tanks Blitz which makes it possible for aspiring tank masters to practice their craft any time, anywhere.

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During the demo, Wargaming CEO Victor Kislyi was visibly pumped about Wargaming's new mobile direction and World of Tanks Blitz gives him plenty of reason to. Shown on iPad, the game looks as good as its PC and Xbox 360 counterparts. It's of course slightly different, having to accommodate the iPad's hardware, but the essentials are all there. The game features 8 smaller maps and seven-minute 7x7 games (as opposed to fifteen-minute, 15x15), and 80 tanks from Germany, the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. now (during the beta) and will have 100 tanks at launch.

The game's interface has been streamlined considerably for the touchpad with a virtual thumbstick and easily accessible firing buttons that can be customized for right or left-handers. Interface elements can also be scaled to various sizes, and players can chat in-game.

In addition to showing off the game, Kislyi talked about World of Tanks Blitz as Wargaming's way of evolving along with games and gamers as a whole, and spent some time talking about the company's other endeavors. According to him, response to World of Tanks on Xbox 360 is good, if not as overwhelming as they'd hoped, but Wargaming is excited to grow that audience with future updates.

What is going as well as planned is the ongoing World of Tanks e-sports competition. The tournament, which started with 3,000 teams, culminates this April 4-6 when 14 finalists duke it out during the Grand Finals event in Warsaw, Poland. This first year of World of Tanks competition stands by its end, to have given away $2.5 million in prizes and Grand Finals champs stand to walk away with a cool $300,000.

Aside from this heart-pounding event, Wargaming's also got big plans for its flagship game, World of Tanks for PC. This year, the game receives a complete graphic overhaul and new physics that should exponentially amp up the realism with better-looking tanks as well as better destruction and weather effects. The company's also adding a new metagame element in the form of fortified military bases where players can produce their own consumables.

The last few years have been big for Wargaming but if their GDC presentation is any indication, the next couple of years will be even bigger. World of Tanks Blitz is currently in closed beta; to sign up for the beta, visit the WoT Blitz page here.

For more information about World of Tanks Blitz, the World of Tanks Grand Finals or Wargaming itself, visit the official World of Tanks website.

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