The military genre was always popular in the gaming industry. Most probably, because it features well-liked video gaming mechanics in one: shooting as well as vehicles/aircraft operating. Also, the psychological aspect plays a big role in their popularity too. For instance, players get to try virtually what they cannot do in real life.
Evolution of Tanks in Video Games
Tanks as gaming characters figured in the video-game industry almost from the very beginning. For example, one of the first appearances was “Tank Mode” in Combat for Atari 2600 as well as in its clones. (Yes, developers didn’t bother to come up with sophisticated names for games at that time!)
Usually, the point of the game was to eliminate the opponent’s tank faster than they destroy yours. At that time, the maximum computing power of consoles allowed for only two tanks on the screen. Not to mention that the graphics were over-simplistic.
Later, the concept was taken over by Brick Game. Usually, different variations of this retro handheld console featured Tetris, Arkanoid, Space Invaders, and of course Tanks.
The third generation of gaming consoles scaled up tank games. Namco was the main frontiersman of 8-bit tank games. Their Battle City on Famicom introduced advanced graphics, constructor mode, protecting one’s own command base, and more tanks on the screen. The game was based on arcade game Tank Battalion. Unfortunately, Battle City didn’t leave Japan.
The already mentioned Japanese video gaming developer and publisher Namco, which later became the well-known Bandai Namco, continued the tank series. The next 2D military vehicle game became Tank Force. It took the best from its predecessor and scaled it up to the possible best in terms of mechanics, gameplay variety, and graphics. The game was even released on cocktail table arcade machines.
The fifth generation of gaming consoles shifted the focus from 2D to 3D games. Now 2D indie projects are booming, but at that time, they were considered outdated. The only successful one was Castlevania Symphony of the Night. However, it was an exception to the rule.
On the other hand, Tokyo Wars was no exception. Arcade tank games moved into three dimensions as well. The innovation of this milestone was the arcade cabinet with a seat and steering wheel. Although real tanks are operated with turning levers, the cabinet provided more realism than ever possible at that time. Of course, PlayStation One had a lot of panzer games, but they all were similar to Tokyo Wars in their concepts.
In the 2000s, video-gaming trends shifted into maximum realism. Moreover, the first-person shooter genre was given a new lease on life with such WWII military games as Call of Duty, Battlefield, Medal of Honour, Brother in Arms, and so on. Hence, tanks as gaming vehicles appeared there quite often.
At the end of the decade, the initiative was taken by Tank! Tank! Tank! that returned the genre back to a more entertaining and bizarre-looking direction. This was done by Namco again in 2009. The arcade machine was with seats and supported multiplayer as usual.
World of Tanks
Games featuring tanks as gaming characters have come a long way. However, one common feature of those games was multiplayer. From Atari 2600, through Famicom, until the arcade era, games required at least two players in order to have a full-fledged experience.
Although World of Tanks set in place the realistic visuals, the game scaled up the multiplayer features. Finally, tanks switched from the FPS to MMO genre, which means that up to 30 players can fight on one map. Being a massive multiplayer online game suited the military setting perfectly, hence World of Tanks gained huge popularity. Now, it’s in the top 20 of the most-played games with approximately 170K players daily.
Realistic military games caught a second wind on the waves of massive online free-to-play games including World of Warships, War Thunder, and World of Warplanes. However, the tanks disseminated most widely.
A step into blockchain and NFT technologies seem like the next step in tank game evolution.
Tanks on Blockchain: Spider Tanks, CryptoTanks, Tanks! For Playing
If you wondered why I dedicated half of this article to tank military games, you’ll be surprised to spot how the history runs in circles here. Such gaming projects but on a blockchain tend to get inspiration from things that have already been invented.
This game is the ideological successor of the original Battle City and Tank Battalion from Famicom and arcade machines, with an 8-bit visual style. In the recently released promo trailer, the developers even used a remix version of the original soundtrack from Battle City in order to stress the game’s origins.
Every tank is an NFT, which means you literally own the vehicle. And even if the game stops existing, tanks will stay in your wallet. So far, there are 20 available pixelated machines inspired from real prototypes from such countries as Germany, Poland, Russia, and China. Tanks’ unique characteristics include chassis, guns, and armour.
This game is a part of the raucous Gala Games ecosystem. The genre of Spider Tanks is PvP brawler, also known as “beat’em up.” Usually, brawler games are fights with one character hurling back hordes of enemies, like Double Dragon, Final Fight, or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on the arcade machines.
If you think about it critically, Battle City is a brawler as well. However, the usage of tank long-range artillery shifted gameplay mechanics from pure action into action-strategy. Spider Tanks was also inspired by the 8-bit tanks, but scaled up the visuals and gameplay variety. Thus, it’s the much-advanced version of the previous blockchain game.
In the same way, all tank parts are NFTs. Players can purchase separately upper and lower parts of the vehicles, cannons, artillery, etc. There are even chicken and scorpion tanks available for special kinds of game modes. In general, their selection is typical for MMO games: PvP, Deathmatch, Capture the Flag. On the other hand, the mode called “Capture the Chicken” definitely brings something new.
The game is available in beta. The final release date is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2021.
Tanks! For Playing
Such an interesting wordplay is used for the full-fledged strategy game in the military tank setting. Unfortunately, this project is one we know the least about among all the others mentioned today. Considering the concept, Tanks! For Playing is similar to well-known Nintendo’s Advance Wars, which is a military turn-based strategy with similar visuals.
So far, the gameplay has not been revealed. All we know is that the game will be a turn-based strategy as well, with active multiplayer and cooperation. The launch of beta is announced for December 2021.
On The Flipside
- The development of AAA-level games on a blockchain is still risky, as the technology is relatively new and unaccepted by the majority of traditional gamers.
AAA Blockchain Games Are Rare Cases
Blockchain gaming is a relatively young industry. Of course, development has advanced and is no longer in the embryonic stages of its evolution. However, as the technology is new and not widely accepted, developers of such games tend to keep away from complicated games. That’s why most gaming projects on the blockchain look like mobile games or pixel-art indies.
The playable AAA-like game on a blockchain is Blankos Block Party. The other ones like Illuvium or Stormrite are still in development, so it’s too early to draw any conclusions about their quality. Why does it happen though?
First of all, small developers cannot sponsor AAA games on their own. The average cost of a top-notch game is between $60 million and $80 million. Secondly, as the industry is quite young, big investors are yet to go all in. Blockchain games are still projects based on enthusiasm and great confidence in the technology.
That’s why World of Tanks on a blockchain with crypto probably won’t happen soon.
Why You Should Care?
On the other hand, the blockchain gaming industry is extremely promising. Axie Infinity and Gala Games are live examples that the success of crypto games is possible in the right place with the right product. Therefore, there are still a lot of unoccupied niches within the industry. An open-world military MMO game is one of them. Sooner or later, the game will be created either by Wargaming themselves or by any other studio.