War Thunder devs apologise for using picture of Challenger shuttle disaster in artwork promoting latest update

The developers of multiplayer aerial combat sim War Thunder have apologised after a picture of the real-life Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, which killed seven crew members when it exploded just 73 seconds after launch in 1986, was used in artwork promoting the game’s recent Seek & Destroy update.

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Similarities between the unmistakable photo of the explosion, which was broadcast live in many American schools due to the presence of teacher Christa McAuliffe on board, and a section of the key art for War Thunder’s new Seek & Destroy update were spotted by a number of players, several of whom took to the game’s subreddit and forums to criticise the poor taste of using imagery of the real-life disaster to promote a video game.

Gaijin Entertainment community manager magazine2 subsequently posted a response expressing “sincere apologies” on behalf of the devs for the “accidental” use of the imagery, saying that “the picture was part of an aerial explosion reference pack used by our artists and the context was lost”.

“We’ll be altering this artwork as soon as we can and will take measures to ensure that this doesn’t repeat again in the future,” they added.

“Things like this shouldn’t happen and we’ll make sure it doesn’t repeat,” another community manager, Oxy, posted on Reddit while repeating the claim that the use was due to the accidental use of the explosion reference pack. They stated that that the artwork would be revised today, Monday June 24th. At the time of writing, the distinctive explosion can still be seen in a thumbnail for the update’s rundown video and a downloadable wallpaper of the art.

This isn’t the first time that War Thunder has made headlines due to its controversial connections to real life, though usually it’s a little more humourous than re-using imagery of a tragic disaster. Dedicated players have taken to posting classified documents to prove the inaccuracy of some of its vehicles in the past, with the not-irregular leaking of secretive military intel on its forums to one-up rival players and argue about how closely it simulates actual hardware becoming somewhat of a running joke at this point.

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