Over The Top: Gratuitous Tank Battles Beta Release

Much-anticipated RTS/sim/tower-defense game Gratuitous Tank Battles is now available, even though it’s not entirely complete. The just-this-moment released beta can be yours if you preorder the finished version for $22.95. Currently only available direct from Positech, a purchase will last forever and ever, and there will also be a Steam key provided once the game is released there. Hurrah! In case you didn’t know, Gratuitous Tank Battles imagines that WWI never ended, mixing trench warfare with laser rifles and mechs. A launch trailer nestles in the fox-hole below.

The trailer itself points out some nifty features, which saves me having to do it myself. Well done, that trailer! If you didn’t watch it, know this: map editor, unit creation, visual customisation, recording of battles, replaying battles from the opposite side, mods, online modes, TANKS EXPLODING.

Looking forward to this a great deal.


  1. Crazy Horse says:

    Looks like a bit of fun. The unit customization is what does it for me. I demand to annoy people online with my pink explodey death-bots!

    Now I wish someone would make a decent mech warrior game with that customization. I’m a bit wary of tower defense games although I did enjoy Orcs Must Die! and AI War.

  2. RaytraceRat says:

    It does look good and interesting, bit pricey though.

    • BubuIIC says:

      A lot of discussion about the price here: link to positech.co.uk

    • ChainsawCharlie says:

      Especially for a TD game as well.

      • LCinn says:

        Personally I feel Cliffski reliably misses the sweet spot with his pricing, but that’s solely based on my own feelings, so that’s not worth much statistically, I guess.

        The comments on that blog post are a bit odd though. Almost everyone there is happily shouting `make it 30, easily!’, which suggests to me it attracts a very specific audience (at the same time I’m thinking `shush. I won’t even be *able* to buy it at that price’). In addition, I see comments there in the line of `it’s a niche game, you can/need to charge high’, which is WEIRD. Tower defense games are pretty popular these days. And high quality ones are readily available.

        For many people the price they’re willing to pay for games has dropped. I think that’s not because the games are any less great, but just because there’s more of them. If there are five games released that I want to play in the time that there used to be only one, I’m not going to spend five times the money. I can’t spend that much on games, and I’ll actually spend less time with each game anyway. Now, I’m not saying that this means games *need* to become cheaper because I want them to, but I notice I’m just not buying the expensive ones anymore.

        EDIT: ARGH. REPLY FAIL. NESTED COMMENTS (which are great, by the way, I’m just not equally great).

        • HexagonalBolts says:

          I do think he misses the ‘sweet spot’ as well, if it was, say, $15-$18 at release I would happily pay that, however if it is $23 then I will wait for a sale, because a sale will come significantly after the release I will want to pay even less than the $18 I was willing to pay at release, so if he had just released it for $18-ish he would have more money from me overall. I don’t know how many people that holds common to. DISCLAIMER: I am a poor student and those minor differences do mean something to me.

        • alms says:

          > Almost everyone there is happily shouting `make it 30, easily!’, which suggests to me it attracts a very specific audience (at the same time I’m thinking `shush. I won’t even be *able* to buy it at that price’). In addition, I see comments there in the line of `it’s a niche game, you can/need to charge high’, which is WEIRD

          I won’t pretend to know why, but if you spend some time on a forum dedicated to a single game or developer it’s not an uncommon sight. It’s like they want to show their undying support, but really if one wants to offer more support to a favorite dev, there’s merchandise or extra copies of the game can be given to friends or gaming acquaintances.

    • Kdansky says:

      The thing about high prices: You make more money. If you cut your price from 20$ down to 5$, you have to sell 400% as many copies. I’d rather go with the high price, and then later offer a few sales. That way, you make a ton more money. And let’s be honest: Cliffski creates great games, and the money he receives doesn’t get sunk into corporate bullshit and shareholders, but instead solar panels and cat food.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      Gratuitous Pricing.

  3. SquidInABox says:

    Launch price doesn’t matter as much as people think it does. A game released at $10 may sell badly if nobody has heard of it or if there just isn’t a market for it. It being $10 isn’t going to magically increase sales. Similarly GTB is a well publicised game that is being marketed towards the great many people who bought GSB and would likely buy the game if it was $40 because by now buying a Positech game isn’t really a risk.

    If you were on the fence at $23 I’m willing to bet you would still be on the fence at $15 or $10 because this game is not something you actually /want/ and falls into “Curiosity” territory which is a land where you will only buy something if it’s on sale with a big discount because ultimately you don’t see yourself playing the game for longer than 20 minutes.

    • Mattressi says:

      Or you’re a poor student with a backlog of games that cost 1/10th of that price. Don’t get me wrong, I think Cliffski’s games are great (I bought GSB full price when it came out – back then I had money); I’m not saying he should lower the price, I’m just pointing out that there are more reasons for not buying it than simply not being interested. I’d love to get my hands on it, but as it is, there’s no way I should be paying $23 for any game when I don’t have much money and when I already have a lot of games that I have yet to play. If it were $10 or so, I’d get it, though, and make it one of the next games that I play from my list. But I don’t need to play it right now.

      Edit: I feel like my comment sounds too negative. I really would love to play this game – it looks great.

    • RaytraceRat says:

      I think you might be right with that ‘being on the fence” but price got quite a lot to do with that. Putting 23$ for a game that might turn out to be not really enjoyable is quite a lot.
      I got the same case of sitting on the fence with GSB. Later I bought it on a sale, played a few hours and found out that it’s not really my type of game. But because I bought it for a few quids, its not really a big deal for me, and author got my money and can make another game (which he does :) )

      • sephiroth says:

        Yes hmm $23 is a little more than I would like to pay this myself as I got GSB cheap and allthough I DID enjoy it for a short while its not really my cup of tea for some reason I cant put my finger on.

        As a rule I dislike tower defence games with the 1 massive exception of orcs must die which is one of my favorite games of the last couple of years and as such fills my need for this game type.

        I was hoping to pay around £10 for a beta of this (based on it being buying the unfinished version give feedback and show support etc) and then if I dont like it much (which I expect) then at least Cliffski got some suppoort for trying. hmm trying sounds a bit harsh I mean I’m sure it will good at what it does just not for me.

        Oh well maybe when I can afford to spend more on games Ill pick it up or at least when its on a nice steam sale as at least I know what money I end up paying isn’t swallod by some gread bar stewards like EA et al

    • BubuIIC says:

      I’m in the exact same position. The game looks fascinating and I really want to play it. But at the same time for me as a student, $23 is quite expensive, so maybe I’ll just wait for a sale.

      But you can actually get the game for 75% of the price if you join forces with another person who purchases the game: “Also buy Gratuitous Tank Battles as a gift for a friend for 50% off!”.

  4. Seafort says:

    I mostly buy indie games these days as AAA games are so boring and generic mostly. I aim for a price range of $10-15 or £6-10. Anything over that I’ll wait for a price decrease or sale. I’ve bought all GSB games and DLC over the last few years but not at full price.

    I support alot of indie games so when one comes out above normal indie pricing I’ll wait for a price drop no matter how long I have to wait. That’s just me though. I’d pay maybe $15-20 for GTB.

    • Grape says:

      With these unspectacular graphics I would have expected $10.00 as a max.

      “Unspectacular graphics”? Oh, fuck off. Fuck right off.

  5. Iskariot says:

    It actually looks like an interesting game, but the price does not feel right.
    With these unspectacular graphics I would have expected $10.00 as a max.
    For me this game does not have the visual allure of a 23 dollar game.
    I know visuals are not everything, but you can not help taking it into account when you have to pay 23 dollars for a game.

    • Kdansky says:

      I will read back to you what you just said:

      “I prefer shallow AAA games with good graphics to a game that is actually good.”

    • 13tales says:

      I think you’re doing the graphics a bit of a disservice – the purely top-down perspective does look a bit odd at first, but they’re incredibly sharp and amazingly detailed. As with Gratuitous Space Battles, you can zoom right in and watch every hit cause damage, every muzzle flash, etc.
      They are, in practice, satisfyingly beautiful games.

    • trjp says:

      Also – they’re sprites, animated via spritesheets…

      That’s premium retro goodness in itself surely – I mean CMON! :)

  6. Shadowcat says:

    Congrats, Cliffski; as far as tower defence (ish) games go, that looks really awesome (I’m very impressed by the feature set). If I didn’t know from repeated attempts to convince myself otherwise that I hate TD games, I’d be all over it. I hope it does well.

  7. trjp says:

    On the pricing thing – there’s an entire branch of psychology which studies how people respond to price/value – it might help to read-up-on-it before setting a price for anything :)

    There are a load of books on the topic – most of them are quite dry and hard to read but the shortest one which actually contains all the info is probably this one

    link to amazon.com

    although it’s still a BIT dry and not the easiest read ever!!

    All the stuff Cliffski talks about in terms of trying to set a fair price tho – looking at the price of his last game and talking about extra content and inflation etc. are all massive fallacies – all mistakes which are made by people when trying to price stuff.

    Summary: People are incapable of determining the price/value of anything in isolation – people always compare things and see which is cheaper/better value BUT the tools they use to compare things are easily manipulated.

    Just saying “my last game was $19 and this one is better and inflation happened so this one is $23” is really the worst possible thing you can do – you might as well put “MORE EXPENSIVE THAN THE LAST ONE” on the sticker… ;)

    • Bobtree says:

      Thanks for the link, William Poundstone is a very good writer, and Prisoner’s Dilemma is a classic.

    • trjp says:

      What I liked most about that book is that it’s not an “instant understanding” thing (see Malcolm Gladwell’s books). What he does through the whole book is give you the tools you need to start making sense of why some things sell better than others even tho they cost more and how to make your things stand-out.

      It’s not just off-pat examples like bottled water or coffee either – deep stuff like setting damages in court and even making people get values from abstract concepts like telephone numbers or house numbers all feature.

      Once you’ve read it you’ll see the retail world in a different light for sure :)

  8. Napalm Sushi says:

    I’m loving this game so far; I don’t think It’s an exagerration to say that it’s the most compelling and fleshed out TD game I’ve played, which is why my one real concern grates so much: is there really no way to play a real-time multiplayer game with someone? As in, both in the same game, actively striving against each other? Because if not, I can’t honestly recommend this to any of my (yeah, this chestnut again) cash-strapped friends. It seems like a genuinely baffling omission to me, considering there is a Gratuitous Space Battles-esque online challenge posting feature. That may have been the best choice for GSB’s passive gameplay, but this is a far more player-involving game, and realtime multiplayer would actually work.

    • trjp says:

      I’m going to take a guess that implementing the pier-to-pier gubbins required to connect people together may be beyond a ‘one man developer’s budget/realistic capabilities.

      It sounds easy on paper but in reality there are HORRENDOUS issues to be dealt with – such as

      1 – you need all the matchmaking/friend-finding gubbins within the game (and that would work differently on Steam and for his own store versions of the game too)
      2 – you have to deal with all the technical issues of connecting 2 PCs together which tends to generate almost an infinite need for technical support (for every router, every firewall, every AV and so on)
      3 – you have to be able to sync the games and deal with what happens when lag appears. Online games contain fiendishly complex things like lag prediction which are also massive tasks for a solo developer to consider
      4 – you’d probably want to consider some sort of anti-cheat technology which is yet MORE work

      and so on.

      I’d agree that it would be a killer feature in theory tho – moreso than the idea of ‘playing against yourself’ really :)
      4 –

  9. cptgone says:

    TD + unit design = instabuy @ €5!
    what’s the shortcut for fast forward in Real Life 1.0 again?