War Thunder German tank

In today’s “creative solutions” department, we have Gaijin Entertainment and War Thunder, which Polygon reports as changing its monetization policies regarding national flag decals. Cash grab? Not quite, according to the article and Gaijin’s head of public relations, Alexander Trifinov:

“What we have seen is that in some cases people are using these flags in inappropriate ways.” Those ways include, Trifonov said, images and symbols of Nazism that are prohibited in many European countries.

It’s not just Nazi symbolism either; other combinations of flags and other decals were being exploited to offend various nationalities or religions. Gaijin’s solution was to take the previously free decals and put them behind a paywall, thus making it (in theory) less appealing for someone to use those flags as an easy way to troll or offend.

To counter the first argument many folks will have — namely that dem foreigners oughta toughen up and be more MERICAN! — I should point out that the United States Flag Code is extensive in its description of the proper way to display the flag, and it’s easy to see how displaying a flag decal inappropriately on a vehicle in a video game — such as by putting another flag above it — could be considered offensive to certain uber-patriots.

Looking past that to the core gaming issue, is Gaijin right to charge for flags, and will it be an effective deterrent to offense? In a vacuum, I think charging for the flag decals, seeing as how they’re totally cosmetic, is something most of us wouldn’t have a problem with, though taking away something that used to be free is always going to rankle.

As to the effect it will have on abuse… I think it could reduce it, but not eliminate it. People who are just doing it for the lulz might decide not to waste a few bucks any more, but if you’re a dyed-in-the-wool skinhead or some other nutjob who feels it’s his or her duty to keep those (insert racial slur here)s in line, then you’re probably OK with it. The article also points out that some people would use flags to confuse their enemy into making them think they were on the same team. Regardless of Gaijin’s intent, the company ultimately profits from this kind of behavior and mindset, which places it on unsteady moral ground.

I’d like to think there’s a better way to handle the situation, but even banning “offensive” images opens up the question of what exactly is offensive to all the various nationalities that could be represented in the game, and all the various combinations of images that could lead to a player or group of players thinking something is offensive. Even something as seemingly obviously offensive as swastikas and Nazi imagery arguably belong in a game that features WWII-era German fighting vehicles.

What do you think of Gaijin’s approach and what would you do?

the author

Jason Winter is a veteran gaming journalist, he brings a wide range of experience to MMOBomb, including two years with Beckett Media where he served as the editor of the leading gaming magazine Massive Online Gamer. He has also written professionally for several gaming websites.

8 Readers Commented

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  1. 田中高橋 on February 24, 2015

    I think Gaijin Entertainment should look up the differences between Gaijin and Gaikokujin. I can speak, read, and write Japanese and there are racial and derogatory terms in the word Gaijin because it is also used in relation to in-groups refering to people residing on the outside.

    Originally it was not a degoratory term until it was proven that it mostly relates to Japanese exclusivity even by in-groups of Japanese living outside of Japan in addressing outsiders.

  2. coma on February 20, 2015

    Super boring repetetive brainless pvp, there is nothing, random maps and over and over again same and for all this crap you should pay for subscription or this boredom will be much much longer, if you want 2nd job this game is for you.

  3. wew on February 19, 2015

    You people are missing the context of the change here, it’s not because of the American flag or any other flag but Russian and Ukrainian. There’s an endemic in the Russian servers of Russians team killing anyone with a Ukrainian Flag and vice versa. It’s a mess and they’re trying to fix it in the worse possible way whilst also milking the cow.

    Whatever, they’re a shit company.

  4. Rawasa on February 19, 2015

    Dumb gamers cause their own downfall, and stains the reputation of all other gamers cause we all have to pay for these guys’ stupidity.

  5. Este on February 18, 2015

    And btw how is charging players for using a “cosmetic” item a Cash Grab?
    Shouldn’t people be more worried about the possibility of players buying skill points for their crews to make them more efficient, instead of spending hours and hours grinding for them? Or the fact that players can never get their crews an Ace Certification without spending golden eagles (money)?
    Now that I call Cash Grab and P2W!

    • Razer on February 21, 2015

      Yeah, on the list of ridiculous things Gaijin has done, this one falls somewhere near the bottom.

  6. Este on February 18, 2015

    This makes no sense, I play War Thunder and I have my national flag in a few of my vehicles. They are still there in the same place, so I’m guessing who ever is using the symbols inappropriately still have them !
    If the solution is to charge players, something doesn’t seem right, cause if players BUY and USE the symbols inappropriately, HOW will Gaijin stop them? And what moral does Gaijin have to STOP these players if they SOLD them that possibility in the first place?

  7. wtf on February 18, 2015

    Putting a flag above another is inappropriate??? That is dumb, as alot of people are more than one nationality in real life. This game is fun, good. But i see people getting banned just for saying simple things, the GMs are bs. Banning for having symbols (That They Put in The game in the first place) is just dumb as %&$#…remove the symbols if they offend, don’t ban ppl for using them…The rules in this game are all messed up, they are losing players from being so strict…

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