Gaijin Entertainment CEO Anton Yudintsev speaks to GamingBolt about the hugely popular online multiplayer title.
War Thunder is one of the most popular and widely played online multiplayers titles on the market at the moment, and has been performing at impressive numbers for a number of years now, something that is undoubtedly helped not only by its free-to-play nature, but its vast array of content and its focus on authenticity. Recently, we got the chance to send across a few questions about the online title to developed Gaijin Entertainment, talking about everything from their future plans for adding content to the game, their staunch support for cross-play, how their monetization model have evolved, and a lot more. The questions below were answered by Gaijin CEO Anton Yudintsev.
"We plan to have 2019 fully packed with new content and features."
Perhaps the thing War Thunder gets praised most for above all else is the game’s clear love for its literally thousands of aircraft, tanks, and ships, which are all designed so well- is it fair to say that that is an area of passion for you as developers as well?
It’s definitely our passion. Most of our development team were born and raised in the Soviet Union, and we knew about WW2 and the Victory from the very childhood. Most of us have grandparents or great grandparents who fought in WW2. We admire and respect what they’ve done, and we’ve been always interested in the history and vehicles of WW2 and later.
There is no shortage of content in War Thunder right now, but do you have plans for any major content line up by way of post-launch support?
Major content updates happen in War Thunder every 2-3 months, and each of them brings dozens of new vehicles and adds new maps and new mechanics. In 2018 we had 5 major updates, which included the release on Xbox One, Naval Battles open beta launch, addition of helicopters, supersonic jets, and many more. We plan to have 2019 fully packed with new content and features as well!
Some players often say that the economy in War Thunder can be a little grindy- is that something that you feel is simply a byproduct of being a free-to-play title, or are there perhaps other F2P games that you’re always looking at to improve War Thunder in similar areas as well?
We’ve been adding new content to the game since its launch, and we are regularly adopting the game economy to the new conditions. In both 2017 and 2018, we have only decreased total time needed in-game to unlock each vehicle – by both lowering requirements and increasing gains. War Thunder is a unique game and there are no titles on the market which we could just copy in terms of progression system.
How do you achieve the balance of being able to appease both, hardcore simulation enthusiasts as well as more casual-minded players looking for a more accessible experience?
War Thunder’s success started with our invention of “mouse-aim” controls, which opened the skies for millions of (relatively) casual players, who hadn’t had flightsticks, but were eager to take themselves to the skies. For all types of vehicles we provide players with three different levels of difficulty in the battles (arcade, realistic, simulation). Though War Thunder’s Arcade mode is more realistic than most of the other arcade games on the market, it still has quite a low entry threshold, and at the same time it doesn’t completely sacrifice vehicle physics simulation. Arcade mode invites war games enthusiasts to try a more realistic approach, while they can still be efficient in battles and have fun without long training in advance. And we can see an ongoing migration of players from Arcade mode to Realistic battles, and further to Simulation.
"The Nintendo Switch is an interesting platform. We have our SDK and development kits and we are currently testing various technical solutions of porting War Thunder’s engine to this console."
What is the biggest change that you feel you’ve implemented in War Thunder since the very first days of its availability?
The biggest change happened with the addition of Ground Forces. It not only brought a new type of vehicles to the game, but created a completely new type of battles – combined ones, which added a great variety of tactics. Players need to decide whether they want to focus on capturing the bases on the ground, make a quick aerial attack to stop enemy offensive, jump to a SPAAG to cover their teammates from attacks from above, and a lot more. All of that in constantly changing conditions on the battlefield. At the same time, this complex gameplay needed to be well balanced. There was a huge job done on our side, and that was completely worth it, because War Thunder Combined Battles is the feature that gives players unique battle experience.
Are there any major changes that you have your eyes on in the foreseeable future?
We have many big updates and improvements planned for the near future. The constantly expanding army of modern ground forces and aircraft brings new gameplay and tactics, with the new types of armament and new technologies, like controlled missiles, radio-location systems, and others. There’s much more to come soon, stay tuned!
Do you have any plans for releasing War Thunder on the Switch?
The Nintendo Switch is an interesting platform. We have our SDK and development kits and we are currently testing various technical solutions of porting War Thunder’s engine to this console.
You recently called out Sony for not having enabled cross-play for War Thunder, in spite of the game being built with the feature in mind- why do you think Sony have so far not budged on it, and is that something that can be frustrating?
First of all, Sony does have cross-play, they were the first in current generation to introduce it – with PC. What they don’t have is cross-console-play for most of the games – yet. Sony seems to have some reasons for not launching cross-console-play for everyone right now, and unfortunately, they don’t share it with the public, so we are not aware of them. We hope that the latest interview at Game Informer means that the process of getting cross-play clearance is going to get faster.
Do you believe cross-play is something that actively benefits any game?
Cross-play is almost essential for multiplayers games, especially those with tier-based matchmaking. Splitting the audience between different platforms significantly increases the time players spend in a queue waiting for battle. And of course cross-play lets you play with your friends on other platforms. Thus you are having more fun and get to the battles faster. All of that is making the gaming experience better. So we are sure that full cross-play is the future of gaming. Some argue that it can put console players at a disadvantage (playing on gamepad vs playing with a mouse and keyboard in shooters), however this argument is actually about cross-play with PC, which is already allowed by all platform-holders, and it’s strength heavily depends on the game genre.
"I’m almost sure that cloud gaming will be available in the new generation of consoles."
Next gen is coming sooner or later. From a development perspective, what is your biggest expectation from PS5 and Xbox Scarlett?
I’m almost sure that cloud gaming will be available in the new generation of consoles. In that case we should see cheaper consoles, which will open the world of console gaming for more players, and that’s great for both gamers and game developers. Developers can be adding more hi-tech graphics features to their games as cloud gaming will make it available for a wider audience. An the same time, usual “computing power leap” is inevitable. The “end” of the current generation brought us 4k and 30fps with the PS4 Pro and the Xbox One X, so I expect we will see more of it. Retail part of game distribution is already weak, which brings some challenge to platform holders in the next generation – retail stores were not only getting their margin, but also provided visibility for games and consoles.
What is your take on the ongoing drama of loot boxes and microtransactions?
Microtransactions and loot-boxes have been in f2p games for at least a decade already, but have drawn so much attention only after they appeared in premium games in its worst case. The reason is obvious – players are paying full-price for a game already, and they feel cheated by having f2p monetization mechanics in addition, especially if such mechanics provides unfair advantages (pay-to-win). The outcome was not good for the industry. Some countries even made unclear laws, which can basically equate all games with rewards (not only those with loot-boxes, but any in-game rewards) with gambling.
I hope it will settle to more reasonable and clear rules on the market, but in the moment it has damaged the industry.