UPDATE: Wargaming has issued an official statement regarding this entire affair, co-signed by four members of the company. The main point, highlighted in yellow text on the World of Tanks website, states that

Our official position is that Wargaming will not take copyright action against opinions based on our publicly released content.

Wargaming also admits to erroneously releasing some statements over the weekend that may have been construed as accusing SirFoch of using homophobic or hate speech, including a statement Jim Sterling received (and included in his video on the topic) that seemed to double down on the threats of copyright action against SirFoch. The matter now seems to have been resolved in the proper matter, with Wargaming “committed to using this incident to grow and improve.”

Original Story: There are a lot of videos on YouTube that basically say “F*** that company.” While crass, insulting, and often childish, they’re typically just emotional outbursts from frustrated consumers. Barring any actual slanderous (i.e., untrue and damaging) statements, it’s generally better for the company being attacked to just let it slide rather than invite a storm of protest from the internet at large.

Not so with Wargaming this week. One of their Community Contributors — a position bestowed upon members of the WG community who help promote the game — SirFoch, posted a, shall we say, less-than-flattering review of a new premium tank in World of Tanks, the Chrysler K GF. You can see it on his Facebook page (language warning) — but not on YouTube. The reason? SirFoch removed the video from YouTube after being threatened with a DMCA takedown notice by a community manager at Wargaming.

It appears that SirFoch was contacted by CM Ph3lan via Discord chat shortly after the video went live. Ph3lan informed SirFoch that he was being removed from the CC program — a valid response to such harsh criticism — but then took things one step further. He asked SirFoch to remove the video from YouTube, and when SirFoch refused, Phelan threatened to “go through YouTube and take it down with a copyright strike.”

World of Tanks YouTube Copyright Strike 1

World of Tanks YouTube Copyright Strike 2

Just to clarify, “slander,” which is what Ph3lan accuses SirFoch of in his video, is defined as “the communication of a false statement that harms the reputation” of a person, business, or product — in other words, lying to make someone look bad. Inflammatory as it is, there don’t appear to be any outright falsehoods in SirFoch’s video, making a formal accusation of slander difficult to prove. At the worst, SirFoch calls Wargaming “greedy” and accuses the company of creating the Chrysler K GF simply to make a buck selling premium ammo; if that’s slander, then so is every accusation of pay-to-win ever leveled against a free-to-play game.

The offshoot of all this is, of course, some serious backlash against Wargaming and Ph3lan in particular. There’s the original thread on Reddit, a follow-up from SirFoch (a.k.a. Assassinator) with the screenshots posted above, and a thread on the official WG forums, in which Ph3lan doubles down on his threats, while mentioning another CC who faced similar threats and again accusing SirFoch of slander:

World of Tanks Ph3lan threats

SirFoch’s follow-up video, posted yesterday, continues his criticism of Wargaming and premium tanks, while admitting he was “acting a bit immature.” Even Jim Sterling has gotten in on the action.

On the bright side, Wargaming’s head of community management, Florian “Nijal” Mentl has chimed in, as you can see at the top of the forum post, stating that WG would never pursue a copyright strike due to criticism and that no such action was ever taken against SirFoch. He’s formally apologized to SirFoch and stated that “We will certainly learn from the situation and will continue to work on the way we communicate.” And give Ph3lan a bit of a talking-to when he gets back in the office, we’d imagine.

the author

Jason Winter is a veteran gaming journalist, he brings a wide range of experience to MMOBomb, including two years with Beckett Media where he served as the editor of the leading gaming magazine Massive Online Gamer. He has also written professionally for several gaming websites.

15 Readers Commented

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  1. Lagwin1980 on May 23, 2017

    The fallout continues, 2 community contributors have quit the program after wargaming America decided to pour fuel on the fire, The Mighty Jingles goes into detail on why.

  2. Lagwin1980 on May 23, 2017

    The fallout is still going on, since the last update by Florian, WG America have basically lied about what sirfoch had said and further threatened action on any video they don’t like.

    Both TheMightyJingles and PointyHeadJedi have quit the contributor program and possibly more to come.

  3. Hellsworth on May 22, 2017

    Well here’s my 2 cents, on any given time he never said EFF THIS GAME, he said EFF Wargaming and EFF this tank and this has been a trend so EFF this trend and the P2W craps. Which in my point of view can NEVER be seen as slander and since “Slander” by definition is a noun that means: 1.defamation; calumny, 2. a malicious, false, and defamatory statement or report: 3.Law: defamation by oral utterance rather than by writing, pictures, etc., so in my mind something that portraits truth no matter how badly worded it was or emotionally escalated can NEVER be slander. With this in mind if he’s not saying the truth you don’t shoot his video down you put statistics up and reveal that in fact the tanks in question and the ammo in question (which is the point of the video) are do NOT, in fact, lead to an advantage which will then lead to his own downfall instead of you as a dev going nazi on him via messages (which in fact reveals lack of matureness and narrow mindedness). Also, this goes both ways, if you are frustrated and you have to make videos with EFFs than that also does not qualify as a mature way of expressing it, those words are to be said alone in a catharthic way and not in a video adressing a community.

  4. Bart Parker on May 20, 2017

    I know the old players are tired of wargaming bull shit it’s not about the game it’s about there money most of.the shit they roll out and promote is crap just look at.the.grill 15 absolutely a pile of shit one of.there worst

  5. Derpina on May 20, 2017

    WoT player for long time. This is just Manager abuse. In game the general channel flooded with cancer and trolls. The world xhat in battle was removed and only team chat allowed. And bannable for a week if you use certain words.
    The chat managers log in like 4 hours a day, give temp bans to abusers, sort of clean up, then goes back to chaos once they sign out.
    The community of these kind of p2w adhd catering “over in 5 min matches, ” = toxic in nature. And being toxic is half the fun. Boring game otherwise.

    So then tjis happens… Community manager triggered because thinks he is moral police. Ignores the failed in game social scene. Ignores that being toxic is a VALUABLE MARKETING POINT. Idiot should go hang around soldiers in real tanks… Then we see what kind of shit he considers “vulgar”.

  6. YOHO MOHO on May 20, 2017

    holy shit this is old news good job mmobomb

    • YOHO MOHO on May 20, 2017

      Hey mmobomb here is a “Update” other Youtubers affected since its leaking over get it now while its fresh

    • Wickedocity on May 20, 2017

      Not sure I would call a couple of weeks old. Plus, I am willing to bet the vast majority of readers do not follow that games forums.

    • Jason Winter Author on May 22, 2017

      Judging by the Discord screenshots, SirFochs’ original video about the Chrysler is a few weeks old (April 27), but the conversation with Ph3lan was last Thursday (May 18).

  7. Adrian on May 20, 2017

    I don’t get it. How did the CM think this would be a good idea? He got a bit buthurt and turned valid criticism into slander? They can do what they want with their CC program, since it’s their program, but censoring a person that was raising valid questions was a shitty, stupid move. They are only hurting themselves.

    Sidenote: where the f did all these anti-freedom readers on mmobomb emerged from?

    • RIP Stanry Roo on May 20, 2017

      It’s easy to see freedom of speech as a problem when one’s only frame of reference is impotent fanboy crusades against the “haters”.

  8. rickshaw on May 19, 2017

    This is the internet and freedom of any speech has to be and has always been accepted.
    We spend a lot of money and lose a lot of money without any remorse or care from these game companies. if they do not like vial comments do be on the internet. Its simple…DO NOT ENTER.
    There is nothing wrong with expression and swearing as its a part of this new self expression system with all walks of life. we are unchained and free.
    its seems there is a fixture of governments/game companies wanting control.
    We are not all toffs, high society people, or people who are now stupidly rich by making games & have become total arseholes/creeps with their new found power! walking around the net thinking they are better than us now by the new way they have become = RICH
    Which, in turn, makes some of them become complete hypercrytes & unworthy to be given the right to be game devs.
    Rich Game Devs Need to Learn to take criticism no matter what form it is said on the chin.
    As it will only bite them in ARSE harder than they ever thought.
    My view is
    Get off your power horse and get back into the cradle. as you have forgot what its like to be back in society.

    • Preciel on May 19, 2017

      america and most global countries have screwed up laws, they give too much freedom to a point people kill themselves from trolls and antifans that say many hurtful things

      korea and some other asian countries have strict laws that can put internet gangsters in jail for excessive harrassment.
      it’s funny that they have a cyber police but it helps clean the community, there should be strict rules to keep order and people to be more mature.

      this is why english games are usually far more toxic than any asian community could be.

      • Curst on May 19, 2017

        Internet (especially in the West) has been a zero consequences zone for far too long. The guy above you is one of the prime examples. Talk about “fogetting what it’s like to be back in society”. -_-

      • RIP Stanry Roo on May 20, 2017

        lol “internet gangsters”
        People are able to say mean things on the internet, OH THE HUMANITY! It’s not like you can just scroll past or click the big X in the top right of the screen or anything. Oh wait.

        I’m glad my country has free speech protections. Freedom of speech is the first and last line of defense against abusive corporations and politicians. As soon as exceptions are made for phony reasons like “hate speech” (Vaguely defined to the point of being easily exploitable.) and “Nazis” (Been dead for decades. See also: Godwin’s Law), corrupt politicians and corporate news outlets will stretch the definitions to include all critics and dissenters.

        Exactly like this moronic WoT community manager just did with “slander”. If Foch’s offensive and hyperbolic opinions are “slanderous”, then half of the game industry and it’s consumers would be too busy suing each other to play video games.

        PS: Excessive stalking and harassment is already a crime with well established requirements for evidence. No need to throw everyone’s rights under the bus over hurt fee-fees.

        PPS: People that are driven to the point of killing themselves have much deeper problems going on in their lives than mean messages. It’s absurd to pin the blame on internet trolling.