Historically-grounded emblems and inscriptions referencing former General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Josef Stalin will return to World of Tanks with patch 8.8, according to a post on the official Russian language website for the game.
Wargaming.net introduced emblems and inscriptions in version 8.0 of World of Tanks, but removed those "associated with the name of Josef Stalin" from servers in Asia, the European Union and North America, a post on World of Tanks' E.U. website reads. "It was our gaming community which helped us rethink our position on this issue," the post explains.
Though the developer acknowledges that controversy surrounds Stalin even today, pro-Stalin emblems and instructions will return to the game because they are period appropriate and because of the U.S.S.R.'s role in WWII under Stalin.
"The historical accuracy of vehicles, emblems and inscriptions are an essential aspect of all current Wargaming titles," the E.U. post reads. "They are chiefly instrumental in recreating an authentic atmosphere of the era of armored warfare during the middle of the 20th century. "
The Axis powers in WWII included Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler's rule, fascist Italy under Benito Mussolini's rule and Imperial Japan under Emperor Hirohito's rule. The former Soviet Union was part of the Allied coalition that included the United Kingdom, United States, and more.
"The historical accuracy of vehicles, emblems and inscriptions are an essential aspect of all current Wargaming titles."
Wargaming.net's post also makes it clear that the company takes a "strong anti-fascist position," and explains that "insignias from all playable nations are widely available except the ones in strong association with the Axis countries and their allies." Nazi symbols do not appear in the game, in part because they are illegal to display in some European countries.
Because the U.S.S.R. under Stalin fought against the Nazis, that historical contribution makes Stalinist references in the game acceptable, according to the developer. The Russian post explains that, "despite the fact that many aspects of his work have received harsh assessment ... the contribution of [Stalin] in the victory over fascism [and] as one of the state leaders of the anti-Hitler coalition is not questioned by [Wargaming.net]."
Since his death, Stalin has been criticized and blamed for, among many other things, creating a cult of personality, instituting national policies that caused famine, initiating political and other purges that resulted in many deaths and running forced labor camps called gulags. His successor, Nikita Khrushchev, began a process of de-Stalinization to roll back many of Stalin's policies.
"I'll be probably banned for this, but I couldn't care less."
Wargaming.net's decision to reintroduce Stalinist imagery in the game has caused some controversy among players, as expressed in multiple forum posts.
"I'll be probably banned for this, but I couldn't care less," user WinG_HU wrote yesterday in the official World of Tanks European forum. "I stopped paying for your game and after this shit with Stalin I don't want to play it anymore." WinG_HU goes on to list several of atrocities associated with "[t]his pig named Stalin."
In a separate forum thread, user J00F wrote that, "Anti-semitism is also historical" in response to the Russian World of Tanks post's closing sentence saying that "We remember their history and are proud of it."
User soolerman responded, "Yes mate but like fascism anti-semitism is a now problem. Stalin good and bad is history."
For more on the sometimes sensitive nature of depicting history in video games, be sure to check out Polygon's recent report that explores why some Russians criticized the country's portrayal in Company of Heroes 2 .
Thanks for the tip, Dom W.