War Thunder is a multiplayer vehicular combat game from 2012. As of July 2021 it, has roughly 1,948 vehicles from countries such as USA, Britain, Germany, Russia, and China coming from early WW2 to the modern era. War Thunder also has regular updates and events adding new content to the game. Though throughout the years War Thunder has amassed its problems. The War Thunder’s community can be quite hostile and toxic, this could be because of many different reasons.
Any discussion of hostility in the War Thunder community should start with elitism. It has two definitions in the dictionary; these being “the dominance of a society or system by an elite”, and “the superior attitude or behavior associated with an elite.” The form of elitism that is most relevant to the War Thunder community would be the second definition. War Thunder has three levels of realism in the form of different game-modes: arcade, realistic and simulator. The problem with elitism happens around arcade and realistic. There are some players who think that realistic players are better than arcade players. This leads to players with the elitist mindset shunning arcade players, calling it “cringe” and saying that “only noobs play arcade.” This is not true! The game mode one plays is completely up to personal preference and people should be allowed to play whichever game mode they enjoy.
The gameplay is also not without problems. I have often seen the term “endless grind” being thrown around and players have reason for saying this. The grind gets exponentially longer near the higher tiers, requiring players to put more hours to unlock the next vehicle. There are premium tanks that can help shorten the grind since they give more rewards per kill. However, they are locked behind a pay wall, so they’re inaccessible to new or free-to-play players. Some players chose to jump ahead at the expense of their wallet. These players are sometimes derisively called “wallet warriors.” Wallet warriors usually have one vehicle and leave after their vehicle is destroyed, causing matches to swing in favour of the team with less wallet warriors. Since they skipped the grind, they also don’t know how to use the weapon systems that modern vehicles provide. The grind coupled with toxicity drives new players away. The lack of new players makes the elitism worse, causing it to be increasingly more difficult for new players to join.
Events are a way for developers to interact with community. The occasional Event every few months can be quite enjoyable; however, War Thunder almost always has an event running adding new content to grind. which is hard to keep up with. Constantly grinding to try out the new vehicles can very quickly lead to burnout. I recently participated in War Thunder’s summer landing event that started on the 6th of August and ended on the 30th of August. During the event, I ended up playing a lot more hours than I wanted to. There was a battle pass going on in the background which also required you to put extra hours into the game. Then on 23rd of September a new event started, requiring people to play around 6 hours to get the top tier rewards. During this time the battle pass was still running in the background. I chose not to grind out the second event because it was time biased and required too many hours. People may argue “you can just stop playing” which is true, but the problem is people such as collectors want to get these rewards and would be missing out if they didn’t grind. The developers intentionally make the game frustrating since frustrated players are more likely to spend money, which creates revenue for the company at the expense of the game’s enjoyability.
I spend a lot of time on War Thunder’s sub-reddit and have seen firsthand how toxic some parts of this community can be. There is team-killing, nationalism, toxicity, and increasingly common cases of racism. The toxicity and nationalism are causing players to fight over what they think are good vehicles and which ones are overpowered. Players also tend to stereotype people who play certain tanks or nations, such as the stereo type that anyone who plays the German tech tree rushed the tiger tank thinking it’s an amazing and unstoppable force. Team killing is something that has become increasingly common, such as dropping bombs on teammates because of what nation’s vehicles they play. There have been reports of a group team-killing other players who have Taiwanese or American decals on their vehicles, which is downright xenophobic. What are the devs doing? Team-killing and racism is against the TOS and players are reporting offenders, but there have been mixed results, with some reports ending in bans and others ignored. What happens after a report is submitted is unclear and the process is opaque.
Finding something to be negative about is easier than finding something to be positive about. Although parts of the player base can be toxic, there are parts that are quite nice. Offering to help players in need and banding together when they want something changed in the game. As for the developer side of things I feel they have accomplished something unseen before. I keep returning to the game since there’s nothing quite like it. Even if the devs have accomplished something amazing they should not stop improving the game and making things better; there is always room for improvement.
Great writeup – I think you touch on some really important topics, such as the way that developers are incentivised to make the game frustrating, that people are more likely to pay money.