Wargaming Apologizes For Threatening YouTuber, Promises Change

Screenshot from DezGamez

The studio behind the massively successful game World of Tanks walked back their controversial actions against one of their former community YouTubers today.

"We acted too quickly and over the line when we threatened to have YouTube remove SirFoch's video through a copyright infringement complaint," the company said in a statement. "And we are apologising for that." Now, Wargaming says they will not take copyright action against "opinions based on our publicly released content."

Wargaming's about face follows several days of backlash against the gaming giant. Among the things the company apologised for today was its own prior statement on the matter, which had been supplied to Kotaku and other outlets on Friday.

This drama began on Friday following the release of a video by SirFoch, a "fanfluencer" who posted a critical video tearing down the Chrysler K Grand Finals premium tank and its $US80 ($107) price tag. In it, SirFoch refers to Wargaming as "greedy fucks," adding, "GG Wargaming and fuck you."

Citing his lack of decorum, a Wargaming rep booted SirFoch from the community contributor program and threatened to issue a copyright strike. On World of Tanks forums, the game's community spoke out against what they perceived to be censorship.

In today's statement, Wargaming admitted that they "could have handled the situation a lot better."

Wargaming's previous statement on Friday noted that "We are more than willing to give members of our community second chances, but there is a level of toxicity and/or offensive language that is unacceptable."

But, today, the company walked that back, too, possibly buckling to the argument that YouTube's copyright system shouldn't be used to police hurtful language or, more specifically, acknowledging that what they said SirFroch said wasn't relevant to the controversial tank video. Wargaming says, that it "inferred that SirFoch's videos contained hate speech and homophobia. While we would obviously not want such content to be associated with any of our games — this video clearly did not. We apologise for this statement, and we don't stand behind those claims. We love our players and our contributors — and we appreciate their honesty and commitment — we are committed to using this incident to grow and improve."

The company also noted that "We strongly support our players', including our Community Contributors', right to speak critically about us and our games."


Comments

    I still have no idea how companies this big, that function primarily on the internet, have no idea how the internet works.

      Part of the problem here is that Wargaming runs its regions separately - Russia, Europe, North America and Asia are run by completely different teams with completely different PR firms and everything.

      Based off experience with Warships, WG Europe appear to be a bunch of assholes that aren't paid nearly enough to give a fuck, and also are generally mean-spirited. NA seem to be decent but often kind of tone-deaf, RU are who the developers actually build the game for and fuck everyone else's opinions, and Asia are the red-headed stepchild that has to watch Mum and Dad fight all the time.

      WG Europe are the ones that screwed the pooch here, but WG NA issued the tremendously bad statement to Kotaku.

        It definitely smacks of someone putting one of WG's feet in their mouth and the other foot going 'No! What are you doing!?!?'

        NegativeZero, your argument is great.... except for one detail. Yes, WG is split into different regions, but they still answer to the one CEO. That person is the one who originally issued the copyright strike (or the threat of it) against SirFoch in the first place, since his name was used to authorise it.

        It needs to be asked - how exactly did the NA server admin get authorisation to post a highly inflammatory (and legally questionable) statement on an issue that was related to the EU server admin?

        That issue was being dealt with by the EU PR reps, and for the most part, it was actually starting to be addressed.... so why the hell would permission be given for such a blatantly derogatory and insulting public comment, against SirFoch, need to be released to the NA server community?

        Wargaming, in my view, can apologise all they want. It's not going to begin to address the issue of their arrogance, or the fact that they feel that they can stomp on anyone just because that person gave an honest review of a bad decision regarding a tank design.

        It should be noted that amongst the "signatures" given on the most recent apology/retraction, the CEO of Wargaming did not add his.

        Wargaming could have chosen to address the issue of a nearly impervious tank design, but they chose to slam the person who did the review in the first place. That is going to stick, and now it's no longer an option.

        Community contributers, paying members and those who simply watch are not going forget, for a long time, that instead of fixing an issue, Wargaming chose to try and stupidly silence the messenger.

    It's important to note that the statement WG made accusing Sir Foch of expressing hate speech and using homophobic language came from their NA branch, while Foch was associated with the EU branch as a Community Contributor. WG has discrete teams managing each different server, which can have different policies on community management.

    Pretty cut and dried - did the video contain hurtful language or not?

    Youtube's a rickety house of cards. If there are tools there available to curb the use of your product in a way you deem unacceptable, go and use them.

    We circle-jerk the modder who puts Widow from Overwatch into an RPG, because they used the tools available, but because The Corporate Demon did the same thing, we cry foul?

    I know I'm pulling two very different examples to suit my argument, but as the comment above states, 'how the internet works' isn't something anybody can properly describe.

    World of Tanks is part of the Youtuber genre, I get that. They aren't bowing to pressure, they're simply having a messy episode in public. The community/streamer and viewer base will likely forget about this just as soon as the video game media stops mentioning it.

      Jim Sterling covered the language issue... the company didnt care about his colourful language before, had no rules or code if conduct in place to discourage it, and only used it as an exaggersted excuse for one video by one youtuber, whos video so happensto be attacking their controversial pay to win model.

      Also youtube has an inappropriate content reporting system... they chose to misuse copyright takedowns and make misleading statements and threats. Angry developers do stupid things in an instant communication world.

      We circle-jerk the modder who puts Widow from Overwatch into an RPG, because they used the tools available, but because The Corporate Demon did the same thing, we cry foul?

      If you understand that these two examples are 'very different', you should understand why. Creating a fan work of a character you don't own the rights to and misusing a tool legally required to be used only for copyright claims to silence criticism instead are on entirely different ethical footings.

      Under no circumstances would a reasonable person say "well if modding Widowmaker into another game is allowed, forcing a Youtuber's videos I don't like off the internet must be okay too".

        Youtube isn't The Internet, firstly. It's a company that provides a service, on the Internet.

        I was up front in saying my example was absurd, games as entertainment are themselves platforms for anybody to exploit. A lot of games lean into this, ie Minecraft.

        Dark Souls the game is just an obscure Japanese title. The publisher that handled its international release doubled down on the way the community saw it as 'that really hard game with mysterious lore'. Another rich source of capital C Content there too.

        As others have said, once a game is out in the public and there's a fervour around it, that game still has to be managed some way, be it from a technical support perspective (the original dev) or in a marketing way.

        I don't like archaic licensing and copyright laws either, but the fact remains Youtubers enjoy just as much loopholes and exploits to these laws as the so-called evil companies do.

          I understand your argument, I just think it relies on the premise that all loophole use is essentially equal. That seems to be your argument because you're framing on quantity (ie. YouTubers and companies both use 'as many loopholes' as each other), when I consider that that quality is a major factor, if not the most important. By quality I mean that, for example, keeping a coin you saw someone drop instead of returning it to them isn't at all ethically comparable to finding a way to murder without penalty, even though quantifiably they're both just one loophole.

          Or in shorter terms, I consider the number of loophole uses far less important than their ethical severity.

      Sorry Leigh, but the community/streamer and viewer base aren't ever likely to forget about this.

      Many of the community contributors were affected by this, even if it only had the potential, and they will be watching to make sure that this never happens again.

      Wargaming gave open permission for paid reviews to be made on Youtube, no license needed, and then they threatened a copyright strike on a reviewer. Keep in mind, they approached SirFoch first, despite knowing of his reviewing "style" and asked him to do reviews on the game and aspects.

      It was an extraordinarily dumb move to provide a statement to the NA server for public release. DId Wargaming think that since they couldn't make any headway on the EU server, they'd try another?

    The bigger issue is why do people care about pay to win games?
    They are sterile , cynical cash cows.

      They're still enormously popular though. Not my bag, but clearly they are for others.

        There's a lot of psychology that goes into F2P games to make them popular. Fear of missing out drives people to buy the new shiny thing, sunk cost fallacy keeps people coming back to justify the money they already spent (and follow up by spending more), grindy progression systems lull players into "I'll just keep playing until I see the whole game" mindsets.

        Different companies are varying degrees of manipulative in the way they run. I'd argue Blizzard is on the less manipulative side (I know some people here would disagree) but Wargaming is most definitely on the more manipulative side. They're happy to compromise game balance if it means selling an overpowered tank or ship or whatever to rake in more money. Their idea of 'balance' is "well you can also buy the overpowered tank if you want so you're on equal footing".

      Usually because they werent pay to win to begin with. Its a de-evolution or corruption of a game that is beloved by a community when the cheap money grabbing or game unbalancing mechanics kick in.

      Pay for cosmetics or pay for respurce boists are usually fine (always complainers), but if the game meta says you can only win by having spent cash and the more cash you spend the easier it is to win... game balance and enjoyment of the game becomes a jerk with wallets game.... eventually leads to the community receeding and only limited to whales trying to play rock paper scissors with wads of cash.

      There's a difference between "free to play" and "pay to win".

      WoT and other Wargaming titles have historically done the free to play model pretty well - you don't need to spend a cent in the game if you don't want to, everything can be unlocked as long as you play the game enough. They don't follow other stupid F2P models that allow you play for x amount of time then introduce a paywall, or force you to wait x amount of time but you can speed things up by paying. It's all there to unlock by playing the game. However, if you want to progress faster, you can pay money, and lots of people like to do that.

      The primary reason why this particular case was a big deal in the first place is that this new tank is perceived to be a "pay to win" thing - a premium tank that appears to be overpowered, giving an unfair advantage to anyone that purchases it - and this is NOT something that WoT has done in the past. It was out of character for them which is why it's made the news. If they did this kind of thing all of the time nobody would deem it newsworthy, but it's here because it's an abnormality and something the developers have historically actively avoided.

        I'm not sure if the term "freemium" is still relevant in this day and age? But I think it would be an appropriate way to qualify the Wargaming business model.

        You could certainly play the game without spending money, but you'd undoubtedly be playing for hundreds upon hundreds of hours while not really getting very far. One thing that is tantalising to gamers is a sense of progression (levelling up, unlocking abilities etc) and that sense of progression begins to stagnate very quickly in WG games.

        The way in which the game allots XP to a specific vehicle as opposed to a general pool upon which the player can call on and use for whatever they like is particularly telling - in essence, they do this to encourage the player to spend 'gold' read: real money (as you buy gold with real currency) to "free" XP that they can use as they wish. The grind is real without dropping the moolah and the temptation to shortcut the arduous process of accumulating XP tank by tank is often too great for most to resist.

        You've got to give credit to WG, as their in game currency models are masterfully designed to repeatedly, gently nudge the player and say "y'know... You'd get more XP with a premium account... Y'know... You've got that old tier 2 with 5000 XP sitting there doing nothing... Drop a little gold on converting it and you can upgrade the gun on your current tank." And so on so forth.

        Obviously they've been hit with the most royal internet backlash b!atchslap over the copyright idiocy and its good that they did. It sent them a fairly poignant message.

        I think the WG is a major contributing factor to the outrage. The community (a sizeable one) that tolerates the money grubbing has every right to be outraged over a perceived censoring of a fed bloke who's sort of stating the obvious, even if his language was, as they say, "salty".

      Magic dues online (Magic the Gathering) is free to play & has no real need to use real money as your always placed against reasonably same level players in vs mode, Worlds of tanks however, Has premium shells nonsense .

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