War Thunder background
How progression and economy is built in F2P games and War Thunder in particular

Dear players! We see that you have many questions and observations about how the economy and progression work in War Thunder. Kirill Yudintsev, creative director of Gaiijn, is best suited to explain all of this.

Player progression is essential. You can't give a player everything at once, because it will overwhelm and make the game very difficult for them and they will just leave it either immediately or almost immediately. This has been tested by us many times in different ways. When applied to our game, later vehicles are almost always more difficult to learn and play tactically, in the controls and with its capabilities. Progression provides opportunities for gradual learning and engaging the players. Without it, the game will lose players right from the start.

In addition, progression serves as one of the basics of how a game makes money (basically players pay for acceleration of progression).

The fundamental difference between paid games and fair play free-2-play games is that you don't have to pay to play free games, and most players don't actually pay.

Most War Thunder players - about 80% - have never paid a dime into a game, whilst playing for months or years. Many of those players who have paid for something in the game don't pay every month (and sometimes not every year) either. Nevertheless, all of the maintenance to the game, all of its development, servers, and support, is provided by those players who pay.

In any game players play only when they have fun. But in a f2p game, players only pay if the game really entertains them. The player is already playing, already having fun, and pays if they want to support the game, or try something new, which is, at the same time, not necessary to enjoy the game (otherwise they would just quit playing and not pay at all).

Hence the unobvious conclusion: the less you have to pay to play the game, the more differently priced paid options it should have, so that those who can afford it can spend more, and those who can't or don't want to can play for free and have fun.

There are many progression and economy options in F2P games. Not all of them are suitable for our game, because War Thunder is about real combat vehicles, which are not equal, differing in power and capabilities.

To quickly and roughly summarize, the general principles of economy and progression in our game:

  • vehicles should be unlocked gradually, from simpler and older to more complex and later
  • the total time to get the first "top" vehicle should be a balanced (not too long not too short) number of game hours
  • the player should at the beginning of the game route (while mastering the game) get new in-game equipment often enough
  • The game has to earn money, otherwise it will be closed. And it must make money without a pay wall, so you can play indefinitely without paying anything (so there is no deception that the game is "free" when in fact it is not). Income should provide everyone the opportunity to play a multiplayer game with multiple modes and features
  • Progression and economy should, as far as possible, provide a variety of vehicles encountered in battle, otherwise it's just boring. I.e. there should not be too many "farming" vehicles, and especially if they are statistically stronger in battles (otherwise only the same popular vehicles will appear in battle).
  • In a game with so many vehicles and modes it's impossible to manually adjust the in-game economy (it's important that it obeys specific rules, and manual changes to them would skew a vehicle’s effectiveness, making some vehicles "bad" and others much better than average, and thus affecting their occurrence in battles).

On the basis of these theses the economy is “adjusted” (algorithmically based on statistics).


About once every couple of years we revise it globally, as new vehicles are added to the current trees, and the rest of the time, to a lesser degree, "correct" the economy, using accumulated statistics.

The current progression and economy system is not the only possible system for game economy principles. There are also, for example, systems based on randomness or on the exchange of virtual objects between players. However, without even considering the limitations on different platforms associated with these options, any such significant changes are unlikely to be well received. After all, our community is formed of people who accept the current economy and progression in basic principles, or rather they may even like it in general.

So it turns out that the main key parameter that we can change without significant harm to the game and players is a revision of the total time to reach the top and get the whole line (with some smaller tweaks like modification research speed, balance of repair\gain and so on). We have already done this kind of revision three times, and it's probably time for the next one. This work takes many weeks, so we will probably show the planned changes in the second half of the summer.

We are no doubt open to other suggestions (and we have many of our own), but we doubt that a complete transformation of the progression into something completely new will be accepted by many players, no matter how much we would like to do it ourselves. We'll still try to come up with something new in the progression, and we'll definitely consider all of your suggestions.

Separately, a few words about review bombing as a method of communication

Separately, a few words about review bombing as a method of communication. As many of our players know - we've repeatedly reverted both planned and already released large and small changes (including in the economy and progression). Due to threads on reddit (where much of the western English-speaking community communicates) and with threads on the forums and comments to articles on the site. We value our players and our game, not our updates and changes. If we know that the majority of the community doesn't want an update, we cancel or revert it immediately. Even if some part supports and some part opposes - we prefer conservatively the "do no harm" principle - keeping the current status quo.

Of course, a review on Steam is also a platform for expression. However, the majority of new players just look at the score evaluation, and do not read the text of reviews and do not go into what they were left for. So review bombing does damage to the game in that new players simply won't try it, while it doesn't raise their awareness of the problems you've noticed. If your goal is not to hurt the game, please use other, less destructive ways. For example, leave feedback in our forum, and suggestions specifically about the economy we are inviting in the feedback form. Also, review bombing will not cause modifying or nullifying in-game prices - if the game is shut down, no one wins.

Radical, revolutionary changes in games that have been around for years are always very difficult to make, because they will almost certainly break gameplay for a significant part of the players. We try to proceed according to the principle "do no harm" and change the game carefully. However, if a topic receives a lot of support from the community - we do everything possible to support the players. We commit to follow the feedback even more carefully in the future and take it into account when defining our plans for the development of the game.

If you still have questions - ask in the comments, and in the future we will try to clarify all unclear points.

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