Ask a gamer—or an investor—in the U.S. to name the largest video game publishers and you'll probably get a list of the usual suspects.
Certainly, companies such as Activision (ATVI), Electronic Arts (EA), Take-Two Interactive Software (TTWO) and Ubisoft (UBSFF) are worthy of mention, but odds are the name Wargaming.net isn't on anyone's list.
That's understandable. Based in Belarus, this maker of free-to-play strategy games isn't as flashy as some of its contemporaries, but dig a little deeper and it quickly becomes apparent how powerful the company is quickly becoming.
Wargaming's flagship title, "World of Tanks," generates an average $7.50 a month per U.S. player on microtransactions. Worldwide, the game has nearly 60 million registered users in 200 countries making an average of 3.5 million item purchases daily.
Founded 15 years ago, the company has grown to 15 offices around the world (including two in the U.S.). It has a headcount of nearly 1,600 employees, having added roughly 200 in the past three months. And it doesn't plan to slow its expansion anytime soon.
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Much of Wargaming's growth is coming from Russia. Europe and Asia are growing quickly as well. North America has been a bit slower, says North American General Manager Jeremy Monroe, but the company expects things to pick up soon.
"We've got some good traction, some good momentum," Monroe said. "As you look at what's happening at the company, we see we need to put a lot more attention and resources into America."
Step one of its plan was buying Gas Powered Games earlier this year. Headed by famed developer Chris Taylor, the studio is well known for its strategy titles—though it hasn't worked in the free-to-play area before.
Step two is platform growth. Wargaming announced plans Monday to launch "World of Tanks" on the Xbox 360.
"We have to be reasonable and balanced," CEO Victor Kislyi said. "Yes, we are on the PC and, yes, we are online, but for most of America, England and [the rest of Europe], obviously the main way to play games is with that [console] controller in your hands. ... The installed base of the [current] generation of consoles is huge. It sits in your living room next to the TV and you have the habit of switching it on."
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