Earlier this month, those helping test the upcoming World of Warships were offered a sweet deal: pay a few bucks for a Humble Bundle and they'd get some swag for the game, including one of its better ships. Loads of fans jumped on the chance. Ten days later, though, the deal has been altered.
On June 16, in this post made on the game's forums, a representative of Wargaming (Warships' developer) clearly states that those purchasing the bundle would get the powerful Soviet warship Murmansk, and even better would be able to keep the ship when the game shifts from closed to open beta. Lots of players took them up on that offer.
Today, a new post on the forums denies this, saying that "we had only ever intended to treat this partnership with Humble Bundle as an opportunity to preview premium World of Warships content and to help drive donations to charity." Oh. The Murmansk wouldn't be carrying over into open beta after all.
Fans on the game's forums and Reddit are furious, repeatedly accusing Wargaming of deception, fraud and of having performed a bait-and-switch, and are demanding they receive the bonus items they'd originally been promised. In response, Wargaming says:
Being involved with Humble Bundle, an organisation that supports a wide range of charities such as the ESA Foundation, Child's Play, and Video Game History Museum are a noble cause, and one we've always wanted to be a part of. Unfortunately, we bungled this first-time effort. This is on us, not Humble Bundle.
Last week we said you'd get the Murmansk on your accounts after we went into Open Beta. That was incorrect; we had only ever intended to treat this partnership with Humble Bundle as an opportunity to preview premium World of Warships content and to help drive donations to charity.
While we were quick to work with Humble Bundle to revise messaging on their web portal on June 17, we neglected to revise our own forum thread topic from June 16. Should we have left that thread unaddressed for a week? No. That's our failing in effectively communicating back to you.
We screwed up, plain and simple, and we hope you understand that we're sincerely sorry. This was never our intention and we hope that you can forgive us for this blunder.
Note the bolded text (emphasis is mine). Accessing the site today shows that Humble Bundle's site does indeed reflect the "revised messaging". But fans of the game weren't congregating on Humble Bundle's site, they were communicating and receiving their information on the game's own forums, which until today was telling them they'd get to keep the Murmansk (which is normally a premium ship costing real money).
The Murmansk in happier times.
In relation to the accusations that Wargaming performed a bait-and-switch, taking customer's money then refusing to hand over the promised items, the company's statement says:
All transactions were handled directly through Humble Bundle storefront, and proceeds were given to charities in the amount that players specified their donations to be distributed. Wargaming did not profit from the sale of the E3 Digital Ticket Humble Bundles.
Whether Wargaming's actions were malicious or accidental should be irrelevant; when confusion and disappointment are caused by a company's own admitted actions ("Unfortunately, we bungled this first-time effort...This is on us"), the least they could do is make it up to the players affected. Especially when we're dealing with digital items.
After all, if the forum post in question had said "Our bad, here have the items anyway", we wouldn't be here reading this...