By now, you probably know how Steam operates: It takes a 30% cut of the sales of games it sells. That percentage is slightly less for high-volume games, but presumably only the biggest AAA releases, as well as a few other super-big indie hits (think PUBG or Ark) that cross the necessary sales threshhold.
While it does pretty well for itself, War Thunder is probably not in that category, so Gaijin Entertainment is stuck with the 30% rate. That’s something that CEO Anton Yudintsev isn’t a fan of, as he revealed today in an interview with Wccftech. When asked about the Epic Games Store and the possibility of future Gaijin titles going exclusive there, Yudintsev dismissed the idea — at least until the store can “overcome their weaknesses” — but also threw considerable shade on Steam, where War Thunder has been available since 2013:
“As a platform for online games, Steam has several long-time unresolved issues and very small added value (things like CDN, ‘cloud saves’ and ‘forums’ are obviously not applicable to online games, they usually already have all of these anyway).
“To name a few: currently, it is an overcrowded store with very small visibility, a complete inability to track leads (and so the inability to use performance marketing), lack of AB tests and general options to customize game pages.
“Although we do have War Thunder launched on Steam, that launch was done a long time ago, when Steam actually exposed games to a broad audience. In Steam’s current state, we wouldn’t have launched this game on Steam at all (regardless of the appearance of EGS). Most users that we have there, we brought there ourselves, and Steam just gets it’s (rather big) commission benefiting from our efforts.”
Yudintsev isn’t wrong in saying that Steam has issues. We’re all well aware of the overcrowded marketplace, but developer-focused items, like “lack of AB tests and general options to customize game pages” are things we players don’t think about every day.
As for whether Gaijin wouldn’t have launched War Thunder on Valve’s platform in its current state … yeah, I’m going to have to call BS on that. Steam is still really, really big. Maybe it doesn’t provide as much value as you’d like, but it still provides value. If it didn’t, you wouldn’t be there. If Gaijin thinks it brought all of its players to Steam, then all it has to do is pull War Thunder from Steam and bring all those players back to its launcher. That should be easy, right? Unless, you know, being on Steam actually provides value …
(It should also be noted that Gaijin also brought Crossout to Steam just two years ago, when many of the same problems Yudintsev mentioned also existed. If they wouldn’t have launched War Thunder on Steam in its current state, then why bring Crossout there in 2017?)
There’s actually a good bit more in the interview besides all that. For one, I didn’t even know Gaijin was working on Enlisted, a squad-based multiplayer shooter based on the most famous battles from the World War II, with over a hundred players per match. According to a survey Gaijin conducted, most players want it to be free-to-play, and that sounds like the direction the game is going. It was originally announced as launching in late 2017, and Yudintsev admitted that it’s “late” in today’s interview.
Also: There are no plans for War Thunder 2, as Yudintsev feels that sequels to ongoing games only serve the purpose of “cannibalizing the audience”; he’s “very excited” about the next generation of consoles; and Google Stadia is “not currently launching free-to-play games, so I think they should do it 🙂.” So do we, Anton. So do we.