War Thunder Mired In Controversy After Advertiser Sponsors Pro-Russian Militants

Published: January 4, 2021 11:11 AM /


A helicopter in War Thunder

Advertising for Gaijin Entertainment's War Thunder and Crossout has appeared in pro-Russian militant videos on YouTube. The developer says that these ads are the work of an external advertising agency and that it didn't have any creative input on them. 

How is the War Thunder dev allegedly funding pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine?

This news comes via Ukrainian military news platform Mil.in.ua. In an article, Mil.in.ua says Gaijin Entertainment is buying advertising integration in videos made by pro-Russian rebels Donetsk People's Republic (DPR). Krupnokalibernyy Perepolokh - which translates roughly as "Large-Bore Mayhem" - is a YouTube channel showing the illegal testing of weaponry and vehicles supplied to occupying forces in Ukraine by Russia.

Ads for War Thunder appear during the videos, while the game's logo can also be seen stenciled on certain equipment in some videos. The images below, courtesy of Mil.in.ua, show the War Thunder and Crossout logos appearing in the videos, as well as interstitial advertising for War Thunder. One of the weapons tested on the channel is a PMN-2 mine, a weapon banned under the 1997 Ottawa Treaty (which Russia never signed).

The logo for War Thunder appearing in a pro-Russian militant YouTube video

The Crossout logo appearing on a van in a DPR-friendly YouTube video

A War Thunder ad during a pro-DPR video on YouTube

The political situation in the Ukrainian Oblast of Donetsk - where the Krupnokalibernyy Perepolokh YouTube channel is based - is volatile. A thorough history of the conflict would take a long time to recount, but in essence, a self-proclaimed state backed by Russia - the Donetsk People's Republic - is currently engaged in a conflict with Ukraine. The conflict is at a stalemate right now, with no full resolution in sight as of yet.

What is Gaijin Games' response to the War Thunder ad controversy?

We reached out to Gaijin Games for comment about this story. The developer had this to say:

We do not provide political support to anyone anywhere. We know nothing about politics and prefer to stay out of it. Our agency that ordered an ad in the video in question took it down when they realized they might drag us into a political discussion. We have nothing more to comment regarding this, we prefer to talk about games and games only.

Despite this response, stencils bearing War Thunder and Crossout logos seemed harder to explain than simple interstitial advertising. We asked Gaijin for clarification on that aspect of this story. In response, Gaijin said it wasn't involved in the creative process behind these ads in any way. The studio said it pays for "various kinds of advertisement" including interstitial ads and integrations, but that it doesn't actually oversee the execution. According to Gaijin, the process - whether for interstitial ads or integrated ad content - "works completely the same way". Gaijin says it was the decision of the content creator to include stencils bearing the logos in the aforementioned videos.

How do you feel about War Thunder and Crossout advertising appearing on this YouTube channel? Let us know in the comments below! 

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Joe has been writing for TechRaptor for several years, and in those years has learned a lot about the gaming industry and its foibles. He’s originally an… More about Joseph