The creators of World of Tanks have released a statement apologising for some recent controversy surrounding a YouTuber called SirFoch. SirFoch was a Community Contributor for Wargaming, meaning he got early access to the game’s premium content, with which he was free to make videos with. One of his latest videos was very critical of a certain $80 tank, and Wargaming responded with threats of copyright claims and accusations of hate speech.
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SirFoch’s video addressed the Chrysler K GF, pointing out how it was seemingly designed to force players to splurge on premium ammunition to take it down. You see, the game’s model features two machineguns on the front - positions where the tank would have no armour in real life. When stripped back to the collision model, however, these guns cease to exist. There’s no weak point on the front of the tank at all. You can watch the video at this YouTube mirror, as it’s since been taken down from SirFoch’s account.
In the video, SirFoch doesn’t hold back. It’s very sweary, but there’s nothing in there you could class as hate speech. Still, Wargaming dropped SirFoch from the community program and issued takedown threats. In one statement, Wargaming said they knew SirFoch wasn’t “the best role model”, but they still gave him a chance. “This might have been a mistake, since he used his status, influence, and the exclusive preview content he was given to defame Wargaming and World of Tanks,” said a spokesperson.
Wargaming then expanded on their position in a statement provided to Kotaku.
“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,” Wargaming said. “We regret having to go to such extreme measures in SirFoch’s case, but we also don’t consider those measures to be censorship because we weren’t trying to silence SirFoch’s opinion, we were simply seeking to curb the extremely profane language of a member of our contributor program. SirFoch’s latest claim that we’re somehow prohibiting him from making future videos involving our games is completely false - he’s more than welcome to make more Wargaming-related videos. If those videos continue to include hate speech and homophobic slurs, we’ll take the necessary and appropriate action.”
That last bit is where their statement falls down, as there’s nothing in SirFoch’s video that could be interpreted as homophobic or as hate speech. He just uses the F-word a lot. Wargaming have just released a new statement, however, admitting their handling of this situation could have been better and clarifying that they support players and Community Contributors’ right to be critical.
“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 apologising for that,” says the statement. “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.”
Now Wargaming say they won’t take copyright action against opinions based on publically released content. So stuff that’s released will be fair game, but not preview videos, presumably. They also apologised for accusing SirFoch of hate speech.
“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,” they say. “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.”