According to RFERL belarusian gaming magnate Victor Kislyi’s net worth has crossed the $1 billion threshold, making him the first billionaire among his compatriots.
His business is valued at $1.5 billion.
Kislyi, 39, declined to comment on his new title of a billionaire, telling Bloomberg that he leads a “very modest” lifestyle.
The Belarusian businessman is CEO of Wargaming.net, a game-developer company that produced World of Tanks, a popular multiplayer online game.
It allows players to control the movement and firing of an exact copy of a 20th-century armored vehicle. Gamers may choose from almost 400 machines from a number of countries that are then placed in a random Internet battle with other users. To win, players must coordinate and communicate with each other online.
World of Tanks is free to play, but gamers can pay for upgrades or customization of their vehicles to pass from one level to the next with more ease. New tanks can cost from approximately $6 to $65. However, in a 2014 interview Kislyi told Belarusian website Tut.by that 70-75 percent of gamers choose to pay nothing while playing his game.
In 2015 Wargaming.net brought in $590 million in revenue, according to Bloomberg estimates. Kislyi reportedly controls a 64 percent stake in the company, while 25.5 percent belongs to his father.
The Belarusian businessman founded his company in 1998 in Minsk, but in 2011 the headquarters moved to Cyprus’s capital, Nicosia. Kislyi said that his team needed a place that would allow their international business to develop transparently and fairly. He now holds dual Belarusian-Cypriot citizenship.
According to Bloomberg, the Belarusian’s fascination with computer games dates back to his childhood. He remembers playing his first computer games on “ancient, paunchy” computers in the science lab where his father worked. Kislyi began developing his own games in 1996 while studying at the physics faculty of Belarus State University.
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