World of Tanks apologizes for threatening to censor YouTuber

    
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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.

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Rolan Storm

Witty Ventrue bastards. :D They know their ‘piblicity & damage control 101’, heh.

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Armsman

Translation of the Apology:
We’re sorry that not enough White-Knights leapt to our defense – and it’s affecting game’s public image and bottom line (read sales)…therefore we’re sorry we couldn’t control the narrative; and block an opinion we didn’t want to see propagated across the Internet.”

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Melissa McDonald

Tough call, that. I don’t need 100% honesty spoken rudely. One can get that anywhere. Especially in the Northeastern USA.

“Lie, lie to me. I promise to believe.” – Sheryl Crow

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Space Captain Zor

Admittedly, it’s sarcasm.

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kgptzac

This is a textbook “non-apology” apology. Absolutely no sincerity of any kind and a minor insult to reader’s IQ and EQ.

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odin valhalla

There are 3 major problems here IMHO:

1. You Tube: The censorship/flagging system they have in place (which IMHO is absolutely absurd) created the conditions by which the threat was actually viable. It’s one thing to be angry and down vote a vid, this is another.

2. They lied, and lied some more: They went after this guy in (I mean this respectfully) in a complete online world way. They threw every meme in the book you can at anon players. Racist, liar, slander I mean most of you read it right? So let’s look at that a moment. This wasn’t an angry player vs angry player where that happens all the time, this was a corporate response. Like it or not, employees represent corporations. This is the problem, as we delve further and further into the online world the “ethics meta” begins to blur. I bitch plenty when I see it from fans, well companies do it too, perfect example.

3. Consequences: The whole affair shouldn’t be, IMHO, wrapped up with a mia culpa and a “im sorry” this was egregious in the extreme IMHO. A gaming company threatened to go after a gamer for bad commentary/opinion. If that wasn’t bad enough, they took the penalty phase OUTSIDE of the actual game and went after unrelated aspects of this person’s life (his channel his character). I get companies who delete things off their websites they don’t like, that happens on fan sites all over the web. It’s their domain they have a right to eliminate bad commentary, while I don’t agree with it I understand why they do it and understand it’s within their rights.

I believe this is an opportunity for gamers. While it’s easy to bash the company on forums what would be most refreshing is a concerted effort by those who play the game to hold the company to account. MMO’s I believe are an organic entity. It’s comprised of people, sharing a world and time together and a company providing the venue to do so. Everyone benefits and when something like this happens I believe it’s in everyone’s interest to hold others to account.

A tangible penalty needs to occur and not on the singular staff (or few staff) that engaged in the assailment of this you tuber but the entire company for fostering a company ethos where this kind of behavior could even be entertained much less pursued.

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rafael12104

Heh. There should be an internet rule about unintended consequences. No, not everything is about rule 34.

First, let’s give credit where credit is due. Wargaming came back, fell on their sword, and yelled “mea culpa!” Even the most jaded of us can’t argue with that fact, and while there are some that are saying they had to do that, they did not. They most certainly did not.

And they went a step further, it wasn’t just an “I’m sorry we got busted.” They clearly spelled out what they did wrong, that it wasn’t hate of homophobic speech from the youtuber, and maybe best of all ran over their own community manager with their own bus.

So, Kudos Wargaming! Whatever your reasoning, you stepped up and took it like a tank. You admitted it is a shit thing to do, using threats of a copy-strike to censor content; and you stated that it is something you will not do, moving forward, even if your game is getting trashed. We will see, but thumbs up on the sentiment.

As for the rest? Meh. “Ain’t no drama like youtube drama.” Bet SirFoch isn’t complaining about the “likes” and the new subs.

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Darthbawl

Jim Sterling posted a few min ago his epilogue video to all this and in response to this “apology.”

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rafael12104

Is it worth a look? Not a huge of Jim’s Inquistion as he seems to be more and more interested in promoting himself.

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Darthbawl

It’s only ~10 min long and yeah I would say you should check it out esp. if you saw his other video. He’s still a bit on the fence on the “apology” aspect.

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Nathan Aldana

Thats kind of the meta joke, though. He plays a character who’s a self-aggrandizing bastard but usually has an actual point to his stuff.

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rafael12104

Yeah, I get it. He is a ham. Lol. But, it is wearing a little thin.

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flatline4400

APC227’s channel is the only WoT one I need anyways! ;)

Example of his weirdness… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCu0rx15szM

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Armsbend

Wargaming is a piece of shit. I’m sure they put the backlash into a simple algorithm before they made a decision. Anyone who willingly gives them personal information is nuts.

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Melissa McDonald

You use a lot of choice words for this company. What exactly have they done to you?
I defend them because they make good video games that are fun to play. That’s the extent of my ‘relationship’ with them, and they haven’t done me wrong.

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Hirku

Last week I made a point that bad developer behavior plays a part in the toxicity of gaming. Thanks for proving me right, Wargaming!

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Armsbend

It started with Horse Armor.

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Hirku

I…totally agree with that, lol.