World of Tanks publisher Wargaming finds itself on the retreat again today. It was forced to apologize for threatening a punitive copyright claim against one of its own community members. The YouTuber in question, who goes by the name SirFoch, has nonetheless been ejected from that community program.
This all started back on May 18 when SirFoch posted an unusually short video. In it, he took issue with Wargaming’s latest premium tank, the American Chrysler K, which is being sold as a promotion for this year’s World of Tanks tournament in Moscow.
“Fuck Wargaming,” began the video. “Fuck their terrible way of making these premium tanks, and fuck this premium tank in particular.”
SirFoch’s point of contention was that the Chrysler K should have some weak spots along the front of the hull, roughly where it’s two machine gun ports are located. But it doesn’t, making it a for-pay tank that can only be effectively penetrated by for-pay shells, also known as premium ammo.
It’s a criticism that appears to be widely shared in the community. Some are eager to pay up for an overpowered tank, while others think it’s exploitive.
“Why? I don’t know,” SirFoch asks sarcastically in his video. “How else are we going to make money if we don’t force everybody to spend premium ammo and buy premium tanks. ... Yay! We’re greedy fucks!”
That kind of commentary seems to have been a bridge too far for some at Wargaming. Until last week, SirFoch was listed as a “Community Contributor,” one of a select group of YouTubers who Wargaming says “go the extra mile in order to help other players” and are in turn rewarded with exclusive access to early in-game content. He has since been ejected from that program.
But Wargaming went a step further and threatened to make a copyright claim against SirFoch’s channel if he did not pull the video down. That’s a big deal, and something that could have lead to the loss of monetization (i.e. income) for his channel.
After community outcry, Wargaming has apologized for making that threat.
“We have further reviewed the incident,” Wargaming wrote in a statement on its website. “We could have handed 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.”
The entire episode recalls a 2015 incident in which an employee of Gaijin Entertainment, publishers of free-to-play title War Thunder, effectively held a YouTube channel hostage after a critical review. That episode ended with Gaijin’s CEO making a formal apology.
SirFoch has since pulled down the offending video of his own accord. The embed above is reposted from another channel. It has been replaced with a short apology, which segues into a nearly 20-minute rant about what he claims is wrong with World of Tanks.
Wargaming has been having a bad go of it lately, finding itself regularly at odds with its own biggest fans. In an interview with Polygon at this year’s GDC, CEO Victor Kislyi admitted that his organization had been “a little arrogant” with the changes it had made to its flagship franchise.
“We were thinking we know everything that our players need without talking intensively to them ourselves,” Kislyi said. “It turned into — I wouldn’t call it a disaster, but we hit the wall at some point.”
The Grand Finals of the Wargaming League start today and run through May 28.