War Thunder Players Formed a Union, Decided on a Boycott – On The Day of, the Organizers were Spotted Playing the Game
A few weeks ago, Gaijin, the developers of War Thunder, announced plans to implement some (and this is putting it lightly) unfavorably taken economic rebalancing to the game. They significantly tweaked the cost of vehicle repairs, which raised the general repair cost for most high-tier vehicles. This change would have the result of making the game very difficult to play without a premium subscription. Players revolted, review bombing the game. The saga only escalated from there, with players forming a War Thunder Players Union, with the end goal of seizing back the direction of the game by organizing a boycott – which ended in disaster.
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The Seeds of Insurrection
Gajin walked back the planned changes, or at least saying they would take a look at walking back the planned changes and issuing a general apology – along with promising more transparency in the form of a roadmap going forward. This blog post was met with skepticism, with players saying it was a temporary ruse to stop the review bombing (subsequent to this, Gaijin had removed the link to their Steam page from their publisher site).
Players were still dissatisfied and decided to organize a Player’s Union with the end goal of a boycott. The objective was to inform Gajin of their complaints and steer the game in a more community-friendly direction.
Players gathered on Reddit and formed the subreddit /r/WarThunderPlayerUnion. They decided on the 26th of May as the day of action when all members were supposed to boycott the game. Their stated demands were to retune the in-game economy to be more friendly to non-premium players by making smaller purchases more viable, making repair costs a small factor, lowering the grind, and allowing in-game items to be sold on the Steam Marketplace, among others.
All is Not Well
The 26th of May arrived, and the effects of the boycott were not quantifiable, at least not by publically available metrics. Steam player counts showed no visible drop; they were almost at all-time highs, while some Union Members held out hope that the strike will have an impact – this was hurt by the fact that Union Members were unclear about the proposed duration of the boycott.
In addition, members of the union spotted organizers of the Boycott playing the game on Discord. With Discord servers admins banning anyone who mentioned the fact that a large percentage of the Union’s leaders were playing War Thunder on the day they were supposed to have been boycotting the game. Conspiracy theories abounded, with community members claiming Gaijin were artificially boosting player counts:
Union Members were searching for reasons the strike had failed, accusing Gaijin of fraud because “honestly wouldn’t surprise me, they can then state to their investors that everything is fine and nothing is wrong.”
Some players claimed that Gaijin was logging into War Thunder on their Steam accounts, playing while they weren’t present, stating that the user in question had logged on to Steam and War Thunder was running, presumably on a Gaijin-owned PC:
The organizers of the union eventually began resigning, becoming disillusioned with both their fellow organizers as well as member complaints, posting a long message in the Union discord:
They said as a parting message: “You are union leaders. Communicate. Talk to the playerbase, figure out what we’re all actually doing here, figure out how you’re going to brand yourselves – PROPERLY, I might add – or this “movement” will sink. The organizers exhorted the community to stick to the founding principles of “The Document,” which is their formal list of demands.
Where Does War Thunder Go From Here?
Gaijin is proceeding as planned with their rework of the changes, the War Thunder community has more or less moved on, and the War Thunder Player Union community is simmering down in activity. Although the Discord has become more and more fractured, with incrementalist members wanting to make more reasonable demands, extremists trying to organize another general boycott, and non-aligned members trying to bridge the gap between the two factions. Even if the boycott wasn’t successful, it was an entertaining episode, and Gaijin surely took notice of the intent, if not the execution, of the movement.