During the Xbox Global Media Briefing that kicked off E3 2013, Wargaming.net announced its intent to bring the World of Tanks MMO to the Xbox 360. Originally scheduled for a summer release, World of Tanks: Xbox 360 Edition has so far remained in the beta testing stage to ensure that its official release will go off without a hitch. Wargaming.net’s patience in approaching its first foray onto the Xbox 360 is understandable when you consider that the Xbox 360 has been a figurative graveyard for MMOs.
MMOs or massively multiplayer online games--as opposed to games that simply feature some online multiplayer gameplay--have been a rarity on consoles. Even among those that found their way onto the Xbox 360, few MMOs have enjoyed success. According to Digital Spy (Langshaw, 2012) and GamePressure (2013), of the fourteen MMOs that have been released on the Xbox 360 since 2006, ten been cancelled. The surviving MMOs include Monster Hunter: Frontier which is only available in Japan, Final Fantasy XI which has a monthly subscription fee, Defiance which only recently dropped from $39.99 to $19.99, and Fusion: Genesis which is available through Xbox Live Arcade for $9.99. Considering that players must have an Xbox Live Gold membership to play games online, the Xbox 360 has not been kind to MMOs.
With the free-to-play World of Tanks: Xbox 360 Edition, Wargaming.net seeks to defy history with history. As the name suggests, World of Tanks: Xbox 360 Edition features pure tank combat. Players customize and upgrade their own fleet of tanks to wage large scale battles of up to 30 players at once. What sets World of Tanks: Xbox 360 Edition apart from other tank games, and what is also a hallmark of Wargaming.net games, is its dedication to military history.
Every tank in the game is modeled after armored fighting vehicles developed during the early to mid-20th century. One of the first tanks that players have access to in the game is also one of the first U.S. tanks ever developed: the T1 Cunningham. However, the game does not just cover U.S. tank history. The French Renault FT, the British Vickers Medium Mark I, and the German Leichttraktor are also available as are tanks from the Soviet Union and China. Yet another sign of Wargaming.net’s dedication to historical accuracy is having the upgrade system of World of Tanks: Xbox 360 Edition follow the actual development cycles of the real world tanks; you will not find World War I tanks sporting guns that were not developed until after World War II. Players will be challenged to follow the path of tank history one step at a time.
The depth of detail and attention to historical accuracy in World of Tanks: Xbox 360 Edition may very well turn players looking for a fun and competitive game into true tank aficionados. However, even players who could not care less about the steady steps of history can appreciate the simply joy of blowing up tanks and seizing territory with just an Xbox Live Gold membership. The care that Wargamming.net has taken in developing and releasing its debut on the Xbox 360 might help World of Tanks: Xbox 360 Edition succeed where so many others have failed.
Applications for the World of Tanks: Xbox 360 Edition beta test are still open.
GamePressure. (2013). Xbox 360 MMO games. GRY-OnLine. Retrieved from http://games.gamepressure.com/games_encyclopedia.asp?PLA=6&KAT=7
Langshaw, M. (2012). ‘Phantasy Star Universe’ shut down by Sonic Team. Digital Spy. Retrieved from http://www.digitalspy.com/gaming/news/a409100/phantasy-star-universe-shut-down-by-sonic-team.html
Special thanks to Director of Communications Chris Cook and Corporate PR Manager Kelley James of Wargaming America Inc..