World of Tanks developer Wargaming has apologized for essentially threatening to abuse YouTube’s copyright law to retaliate against an unpaid promotional partner who published a video critical of the company.
YouTuber SirFoch’s original video berated Wargaming for overt pay-to-win tactics; Wargaming subsequently expelled him from its promotional program, accused him of “slandering [the] brand,” and according to chat logs then threatened to abuse YouTube’s copyright claim tool to kill the video if we wouldn’t, as well as cause him lost revenue on future videos by continuing to lodge copyright claims against anything else he published. Wargaming’s statements to the press earlier this week denied attempting to censor the YouTuber, in spite of the logs and its own released Q&A, and obliquely accused SirFoch of lying, of homophobic remarks, and of defaming the studio. The clear injustice of those accusations landed Wargaming on the front page of mainstream and niche news sites and even spawned an incredulous Jim Sterling piece.
Now the studio has completely reversed its stance and apologized for its threats and mischaracterization of the situation.
“We have further reviewed the incident of last Friday involving SirFoch and his ‘Chrysler K GF rant’ video, and know we could have handled the situation a lot better. We strongly support our players’, including our Community Contributors’, right to speak critically about us and our games. We acted too quickly and over the line when we threatened to have YouTube remove SirFoch’s video through a copyright infringement complaint and we are apologizing for that. We’re committed to doing a better job on this front. We’re going to improve the way we communicate with our Community and our Community Contributors, and as part of that effort we will work with them on more detailed, specific guidelines to help ensure incidents like this don’t happen again.
Our official position is that Wargaming will not take copyright action against opinions based on our publicly released content. [Emphasis theirs.] Over the weekend we released a statement to some media outlets regarding the content of SirFoch’s video that 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 apologize 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 missive is signed by four high-ranking global Wargaming executives.