World of Tanks, one of those games that has enjoyed immense popularity while staying out of the mainstream spotlight, has recently been dragged onto the public stage following a rare controversial threat of a Copyright Claim against a YouTuber who posted a negative review of Wargaming's most recent content addition.
It started when YouTuber SirFoch, who runs the channel TheFochYou, posted a scathing, profanity-laden review of World of Tanks' recent addition – the Chrysler K Grand Finals premium tank. SirFoch took issue with the tank's relative capabilities accusing the game of becoming pay-to-win and the company of being greedy. Yes, this video included lots of angry "F*** Wargaming!" exclamations.
SirFoch, being a part of World of Tanks Community Contributor program, is a bit closer with the company than other YouTubers, and, as such, he received direct criticism from those involved. Specifically, Zoltan "Ph3lan" Sipos, community manager at Wargaming, messaged SirFoch on Discord. What follows next would normally be a "he said, she said," but SirFoch took damning screenshots of the conversation.
Sipos tells SirFoch that this video has forced them to remove him from the community contributor program and demands SirFoch remove the video from his YouTube channel. SirFochs, understandably, refused to do so, and that's when Sipos threanted a copyright claim, which would prevent SirFochs from monetizing any of his future World of Tanks content.
After this got out, even fans of the game were upset, prompting a response in the WarGaming forums from the Head of Community Management Florian "Nijal" Mentl. Mentl initially denied the copyright claim, saying "we at Wargaming never claimed and will never pursue a copyright strike on public available or given content based on criticism."
However, Sipos' statement to SirFoch left little ambiguity. After SirFoch denied the request to remove the video, Sipos said "In that case we will have to go through YouTube and take it down with a copyright strike." For those conspiracy theorists who may be wondering if SirFoch may have fabricated those screenshots, Sipos also posted in the forums confirming clear as day "we told [SirFoch] that we will go through YouTube if necessary to remove the video."
After being confronted with this info, Mentl posted a second time, offering an unambiguous apology to SirFoch saying "censorship was in no was ever the goal. We will certainly learn from the situation and will continue to work on the way we communicate."
However, many Redditors and forum members were still unsatisfied, as Mentl claimed that Sipos' comment was only an "implied threat," and that "the wrong words had been chosen to express the importance of the situation to us," when the threat was abundantly clear.
What isn't clear is whether or not this apology will be enough to quell the stirring rebellion among Wargaming's playerbase. In addition to their own community, some of whom are predicting and calling for Sipos' firing, Mega YouTubers John "Totalbiscuit" Bain and Jim Sterling of The Jimquisition have both picked up on this story and given it even more attention, even in light of this apology.
As Mentl pointed out, however, they never did pursue a copyright claim against SirFoch, but SirFoch also removed the video as requested before they had a chance to, telling Sipos "I guess I don't really have a choise (sic) here."
SirFoch did admit via Reddit that his original video may have gone too far, but "threatning to go through YouTube copyright strikes because I called you names is not really cool," adding in a separate YouTube video "it's sad to see a company to go to this extent to try to silence critique of their stupid business practices."