A month or two back I had the pleasure of chatting to Wargaming.net's Victor Kislyi, the man behind free-to-play hit World of Tanks (a game in which two forms of nerdiness collide - stat-heavy multiplayer and 20th century history). The fruits of that chat can be read in our latest issue, on sale now. Kislyi's a fearsome interviewee, marrying in-depth knowledge of the product to the charisma of a classier shade of mob boss. Here's what he had to say about free-to-play on Xbox platforms.
With 60 million subscribers under Wargaming's belt, Kislyi isn't shy of taking credit for the business model's popularity (it made a formal debut on Xbox 360 with Toylogic's Happy Wars, released last year) and has been at some pains to convince Microsoft that it's the way forward.
"Microsoft is a huge company, with lots of partners - publishers and developers," he told me. "So yes, it does take some extra effort and political persistence to help them to realise how important it is for Microsoft and the Xbox platform to embrace free-to-play, digital, online elements.
"Because that's the future and we have the freaking financial proof," he went on. "That's how it works, and not only us, there are a couple of other big companies that are killing it with free-to-play online." League of Legends being the elephant in this particular room.
Microsoft has held up World of Tanks: Xbox 360 Edition (created in partnership with Day One Studios) as evidence that Xbox 360 will be around for years to come. Kislyi offered something in the way of corroboration, pointing out that free-to-play games turn a profit over months and years, not days, which makes on-going support vital.
"We can't do everything right now, and that's why we have to explain why we do what we do," he said. "This is our fate now, because these kinds of games aren't your typical Christmas retail bonanza, gone off the shelf after a couple of months, and you're working on another game. When you launch the game, that's when the work starts - this was true of the PC game, and it's true of the Xbox 360 game.
"The Day One guys, we gave them that experience - not every other company in the world has gone through this experience. Just be prepared that after open beta and launch, that's when the work begins - new content, bells and whistles, eSports, broadcasting features, clan wars, so many things around it. We'll be going on for the next minimum 10 years - I would say 20 years, it's a never-ending story.
"If you look at the PC version in Russia, it's our third anniversary, and we've put together so many new features and content since the launch, those are two different versions of the game now."
For more on the console port, check out my first look. It's a lot subtler than it may seem, on the strength of the below gameplay mash-up. Kislyi reckons an Xbox One version is a "no-brainer" once enough consoles have sold.