PSLS Interviews War Thunder CEO Anton Yudintsev – US Release Details
During GDC 2014, PlayStation LifeStyle’s Dan Oravasaari sat down with CEO of Gaijin Entertainment’s Anton Yudintsev and talked about the US delayed Free-to-play plane combat game, War Thunder.
Could you tell us about yourself and War Thunder?
My name is Anton Yudintsev and I am the CEO of Gaijin Entertainment, we are the developers of War Thunder. War Thunder is a cross platform online session based PVP, well mostly PVP, but also PVE game, focused on the World War 2 era and different kinds of military vehicles.
Obviously, the big question is, what has been the cause of War Thunder being delayed in the US?
There is not a specific reason actually, but the thing is that, not everyone knows that there are two different Sonys. Sony of America and Sony of Europe, and because War Thunder is a pretty new thing, its cross-platform, and it’s PVP, and it’s a multiplayer online game, [so] there aren’t really any exact guidelines. Because of that, [and that] there are different guidelines for the US and Europe, and even though it was was ok in Europe, [SCEA] asked us to do things a different way and because we don’t want to have different servers, we needed to communicate with [SCEE] again and then tie it all together.
There are a lot of things in the game like squads, clans and stuff like that, they excepted all of those things but SCEA asked us to do specific things with invitations, so you could invite someone to a squad or party. So, we implemented that and we submitted it, and we hope we pass soon. The game should be available in the US in April, well, expect it should be.
Are there any major changes between the US and European version of War Thunder?
It will be the same version, we will update the European version as well. Of course, it will all just be a newer version with all of the new things and changes, fixes and adjustments. But, the main difference is the invitation system. The PlayStation Network invitation system and how it works with friends, because we have our own friends system inside the game, those need to be combined. It is just a completely new thing to the console scene in general, because it is a pretty new area. There is no PVP online game yet, that is especially cross-play.
What was it like developing something like this for the PS4?
Well, in general, developing for the PS4 was easier than PS3. It has not only been more easier to develop [for], but also that, as you know the PS3 GPU and SPU side, there are three different types of processors and you want to have a good game, good performance and high quality you need to work with them all. On the PS4, it is just like the CPU and GPU, and the GPU is rather powerful, so that means that it is much easier to manage – so it is easier. Of course, the development tools are not that great because it is the beginning of the cycle, the PS3 has been around for something like 8 years so the tools are much more refined and better on the PS3.
Since you have already launched in the European market, how has your experience been with the Free-to-Play model?
It’s good, and it is actually one of the issues with the release in the US as well. Because, it is not only an online session based PVP game, but it is also [F2P] and there are different guidelines and it is not a common thing, there are only a handful of [F2P] games on consoles. Yet, those games are not specifically like ours, its not PVP games and monetization strategy is a bit different. So, that is one of the reasons it takes time with Sony, luckily we have figured everything out. The reception was pretty good, because we haven’t changed monetization from PC, it is the same thing. We strongly believe in there not being a pay to win advantage, so whether someone is paying or not paying, everyone gets the same experience. The only difference is that if you pay you level faster, or if you want to skip a specific vehicle, or get a plane or whatever specific decal. Then you also pay and you get that sooner, rather than later.
Has the model become profitable for War Thunder?
Yes, the game is profitable. If you are talking about the PS4 version, it is OK, I guess. We are not actually separating our PC and PS4 audience, so in general, we are doing OK. Actually, I think PS4 users tend to pay a little bit more, not much, but think they are a bit more paying than PC users. But, the difference is not that big, it is probably just because they might be more hardcore gamers.
Will all versions be connected to each other? PC, PS4, US and Europe?
Are new gamers going to have a problem just starting? As the European market has had the game for so much longer.
No, it is not like that. In our game, when you get to the higher tiers of planes you are matched with a higher tiers of planes or tanks. So, that means that by playing longer, you are not actually getting an advantage, just more skill, but not in-game advantage. As for being more skillful, there is the thing that the US will be playing when it is at night in Europe. So, most of US players will still be playing with US players, not European players, but they can do that. They can join in one session, but because of the time difference most US people will play with US people and European will play with European.
Do you have any plans for DLC in the future?
We are planning a huge expansion, it will be for all markets and versions, PC, PS4 and Mac as well. This expansion is going to be, I can’t give an exact date, but I would say soon. Right now, War Thunder is about planes, but of course there are tanks and ships, but players only control planes. For, I think, 4 months we had a closed beta of tanks expansion and we are going to release it soon. It is a huge new experience, and a lot of new content. Also, it adds new depth to the content, because we are not separating the game, you are fighting with the planes and tanks simultaneously in the one battle. So, it gives a huge new dimension to the game.
Will this be free as well?
Yea, of course. Everything is going to be free. It is still a free game, you only buy specific vehicles, most of which are available for free for that nation. So, if you want to play with German tanks, but in US branch, then it is paid, but if you want to play as a German tank in the German branch it is free. We also have a premium account, which just gives you faster leveling, and more rewards in each mission. The game is free by its nature, we are not going to change that, we strongly believe in that model because it is more fair.
Anything else you would like to make sure gamers know about War Thunder?
I would like to encourage people to play our game, especially after we release the tanks expansion, because it is going to be a really new experience with the tanks and planes simultaneously in one battle. I play myself and it is fun.
Are you looking forward to War Thunder hitting the US later this year? Let us know in the comments below, or take to our forums, find some friends and get ready for war.