Gaijin Entertainment and Wargaming are two Russian video game developers and publishers that have had recent success with their World War II themed games. Both companies promoted their games with Soviet paraphernalia at the Gamescom conference in Colgne, Germany.
Gaijin Entertainment displayed an actual Soviet tank destroyer at their booth, in reference to their “War Thunder” game – a “cross-platform MMO combat game for PC, Mac OS and PlayStation 4, dedicated to World War II military aviation, armored vehicles and fleets,” according to their website.
Their competitor, Wargaming Public Company, Ltd., was also promoting its games, which include “World of Tanks,” “World of Warplanes,” and “World of Warships.”
WWII themed games have a special appeal for customers from Russia and other countries from the former Soviet Union. According to a gaming investor, Igor Matsanyuk, citizens of the former Soviet Union have a cultural memory of their technology dominating in battle. Wargaming claims that as much as 3 percent of the population play this type of game in the former Soviet Bloc region.
Another reason the games are popular is that they’re available for free over the internet. Players can compete against thousands of others online, and while upgrades are available for a price, most players stick with the free player version. Gaijin claims that approximately 20 percent of their customers purchase upgrades, and the average paying customer spends about $10 USD per month.
Both companies say that they’ve seen increased interest in the games, doubling or even tripling in the past two years. This is true even despite the recent conflict in the Ukraine, where real war has lessened the demand for digital imitations, The Sydney Business Herald reports.
Gaijin CEO Anton Yudintsev stated, in reference to their declining numbers of Ukrainian users, “Frankly speaking, they’ve got more important things to do than play games. I would much prefer people play games than actually participate in real war.” He also seemed to show little interest in developing a more modern-themed war game. He claimed that, “Modern vehicles are no fun to play,” due to their increased range. Older weaponry had to be used at shorter range, which gives the games more excitement. Also, the users aren’t necessarily reminded of war as it is currently fought, and can instead play with a sense of nostalgia about the way things used to be.