Summary: On April 18, Gaijin adopted some significant changes to War Thunder game and community rules. This was the first major change since January, 2021. What were the changes, and how do they affect players?
I’m going to identify below the major changes in wording in the April rules documents Gaijin has published, which affect things like game chat, player and squadron names, and conduct on the forum. A caveat: there’s lots of discretion being reserved here, “their-game-their-rules”, after all, and always was, so just so something you do or did is identified or not, doesn’t mean it wasn’t sanctionable then, or isn’t sanctionable now. What’s interesting, I think, is the changes we’re seeing to Gaijin’s stated expectations of its player base as of April. Notably these changes were dated over a month before the recent Gaijin apology and change to a roadmap approach for War Thunder, although I confess I only noticed them myself this week.
These changes to playerbase expectations are broken here into a few categories:
* Changes to player name policies
* Changes to squadron name policies
* Changes to in-game chat policies
* Changes to forum comment policies
Changes to player name policies . Several rules on player avatar names have been removed in the current set of restrictions, and overall the rules governing player name choice are much less restrictive. Again, this doesn’t mean you can DO this stuff with a new player name now, it’s just they’ve removed the rule saying you CAN’T. Nickname prohibitions that were there before and now are not: obscenity/profanity, offensive/provocative, “names of political/historical figures of the 20th and 21st centuries”, names of persons who violated national or international laws, Nazi/Third Reich names, and names associated with narcotics/alcohol/drug use.
Reasons to remove/change a players name that still exist in the rulebook (section 2.1 of the game rules) are: trademark/copyright, sexual vulgarity, and misleading affiliation with Gaijin. It’s interesting that they’ve become less explicitly restrictive here: if another player name offends you, unless it’s explicitly sexual, they are not publicly committing to change it should you complain.
Changes to squadron name policies . In the case of squadron names, the rules have not been loosened so much as clarified. Previously there was the same restriction as nicknames had on “political and historical figures of the XX-XXI centuries,” as well as “words, phrases, logotypes and symbols” associated with those who violated national laws, or were “involved in international courts as criminal, extremist or terrorist,” including the names of Nazis and other Third Reich associations.
That’s what it was before. Currently it reads (Game Rules, s2.2)
–“historical and political personalities or other individuals involved in violent felonies or international crimes, including Nazi leaders and other war criminals”
–“groups or organizations widely and internationally recognized as organized crime, extremist groups, or terrorist organizations (for example, SA, SS, SD of The Third Reich) - provided, however, such a use probably unleashes (or is driven by) ethnical, racial, or [religious] conflicts aimed at increasing hatred or hostility, humiliating human dignity, or encouraging other Users to forceful overthrow of a government”
–“current existing organizations, army units, and regiments that either use symbols of the Third Reich and other Nazi, Fascist and neo-Fascist symbols… or are recognized by the UN Security Council as an international terrorist organization”
–"international criminals recognized as such by international courts or tribunals” (see note below)
All the other rules that were there before for squadron names (non-political, etc.) are still in place, it’s just this one section that’s been clarified, fairly precisely.
The old rules, which would have prevented a clan naming itself after George Patton or Barack Obama or JRR Tolkien, at least in theory, have been specified so those names would be okay now. Another example of a name that the old rules would have forbidden (because it involved the breaking of national law) that the new ones appear not to would be “MAFIA.”
Changes to In-game Chat Policies : A few new restrictions have been added to what you can say in in-game chat (bold is what has been added):
3.2.18. Incitement to stop playing the Games, avoid in-game activities, or purchase any content from the Gaijin.Net Store
3.2.19. Unlawful disclosure of the personal data of Players or other third parties (…)
3.2.21. Public discussion of the actions of the [Gaijin] Administration
As well, they added this provision: “The rules regarding the use of Game Chats are also applicable to real-time communication in the Game’s voice chat”.
Changes to forum comment policies . There have been a few changes here as well.
- Making English the official language . New text (Community Rules 2.3) “The official language of Gaijin’s Websites is English. The use of foreign languages, transliteration, and deliberate distortion of the English language is not welcome (except in subsections for specific languages). For the avoidance of doubt, such restrictions do not apply to Gaijin’s Websites dedicated entirely to a particular language.” So, for instance, a post in the main English section of the forum in a different language could be removed now for rule violation where it couldn’t be under the rules before.
- Asserting copyright over everything you write . New text, (2.10.2): “The User hereby grants to Gaijin … a worldwide, perpetual, irrevocable, royalty-free, non-exclusive, transferable, sublicensable right and license to use Conversational Media [ie, what you post] in any manner within the Forum, Gaijin Websites, and/or the Games, or in connection with them”. Gaijin did not formally assert such a right over community post content before now.
Specific forum commenter rules : A couple interesting “things you can’t do on the forum changes too.
Insults . “Insult any forum members, Gaijin employee or forum staff” has changed to:
“3.1.2 insulting the Administration in person;
3.1.3 insulting other members of the community;
3.1.4 rudeness and vulgarity against them”
Previously there wasn’t an explicit prohibition on “rudeness” that wasn’t also offensive in some other way, such as using profanity, although there was a prohibition on “insulting and/or inflammatory” posts, which sort of covers the same ground. It does seem to imply however, that you can be insulting to “the moderators” or “the company” collectively now, just not individually, so long as you don’t break another rule.
- Double posts . There is now an explicit rule (3.4) against “Duplicating messages in one or several threads or news sections and creating similar threads in different sections of the Forum (multi-posting)” where there wasn’t before.
- Off-topic . There is also now an explicit rule (3.5) against posting “messages which are not related to the topic of the Forum or post messages in an inappropriate Forum section, or messages which do not relate to the Gaijin’s Website’s subject,” that wasn’t there before either.
- Bug posts . There is a new rule (3.6) prohibiting “reporting game bugs, errors, or other flaws is not permitted” outside the technical support sections of the forum.
- Falsehood . There is a new rule (3.7) prohibiting “Any information known to be false… regardless of the degree of awareness of the author (especially concerning the publication of any information on the development of Gaijin’s games or other projects);
- Closed threads . The rule on challenging moderation (3.8) has been amended to also forbid discussion of “threads closed by the Administration or Website Managers or any Users’ posts deleted by them, challenge or discuss corresponding actions… in any form”. Previously the rule only prohibited any “deliberate” challenges to moderation.
- Being dismissive . There is a new rule (3.15) prohibiting a “Dismissive attitude to the Game Rules, the Gaijin’s Websites, and the Gaijin’s Terms and Conditions” extending beyond the forum itself to include a user’s personal messages as well.
- Tax dodging . The rule against “links, workaround or any other method in avoiding local taxation laws or pricing policies” has been removed.
- Threats and racism . The explicit rules against “any form of serious threat or harassment” and “racism, xenophobia and discrimination” have been removed, although much of that content would fall under other remaining rules against Nazi symbolism, political or religious discussion, etc., too.
- Epilepsy . The explicit rule against “imagery that may cause epileptic or other Photosensitivity related seizures” has been removed.
- Product reviews . The rule against encouraging players to stop buying things from Gaijin (3.11) has been revised, specifically to remove the section “in order to prove a point” from the old rule, and to add “including by making threats”. So whereas before you could arguably say, “this is not a very good deal, don’t buy it” about a Gaijin store product if you honestly believed that, now you can’t.
- Finally the rules about talking about botting, cheating, hacking, piracy, etc., (3.9-3.11) have been extensively rewritten, although there aren’t any significant actual changes to them.
- Insults . “Insult any forum members, Gaijin employee or forum staff” has changed to:
The summary above is only as complete and accurate as I could make it by a close comparison of the April/23 policies at https://legal.gaijin.net and the previous policies, archived most conveniently here: https://old-forum.warthunder.com/index.php?/topic/12738-war-thunder-rules/. A lot of sections were moved around and the whole thing generally rewritten and restructured, as well. A lot of the sections, such as the punishments for infractions sections, also remain largely unchanged. I’ve yet to see any public acknowledgement or news on these rules changes, or anyone else who’s commented on them, but I thought it was important for them to be listed somehow, but if I’ve missed any other significant changes, it was by accident.
Postscript note: One change that didn’t really fit in anywhere else in the summary above is that the previous prohibition on Nazi things has been replaced in a couple reference by “Nazi, Fascist and neo-Fascist” things, with the Fascist Party of Italy also being called out for the first time (2.2 and 2.9)