Wargaming has apologised for its handling of a dispute with a YouTuber on its partner programme.
SirFoch produces YouTube video content based on World of Tanks, and was heavily critical of a new tank introduced into the game.
Wargaming was not happy about the video being produced and, according to SirFoch, was told he would be removed from the partner programme and that a copyright infringement claim would be logged against the negative video if he didn't take it down himself. The video has since been taken down.
The firm insisted that it was not the criticism that had angered Wargaming, but rather the manner in which the criticism was delivered.
In a statement sent to Kotaku, the firm wrote: "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. 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."
The handling of the situation has put Wargaming and its partner programme under scrutiny. Kotaku unearthed a second YouTuber who also took his video down that was critical of a new map introduced in World of Tanks. SirCircon said that the maps looked like one of the designer's children had drawn it on a napkin with a crayon, and then had his nose wiped with it. Wargaming reinstated him to the programme after he acknowledges the comments about staff members' families were out of line.
Wargaming has now recanted its original statement on SirFoch and apologised for its recent stance on YouTube content. In a note posted on its website, the firm wrote:
"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. "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."