I have to warn you this is going to be a long read, I started writing this on Wednesday after interviewing several people (YouTubers, streamers, etc), this article will be centred in the meeting with Victor Kislyi but will also talk about my growing disappointed over the North American office, on how they lied to us and how badly the NA community contributors have been treated. I’ve kept all interviewed people’s name anonymous and/or gave fictional names so that they would feel comfortable enough to talk freely, some weren’t at the meeting, but others did.
The reason I’ve decided to write about this is that although I’m a “EU” under the company’s eyes, I’m actually a NA player as well, have over 2600 battles (and counting) and I have as much NA readers on RSR as EU, its of my concern.
Get a cup of coffee/cocoa, this is how it starts…
Last night -As I know some of you prefer reading instead of watching things and also to help the Russian blogs, to pass the data over to the Russian community and who’s English is not the best- did a whole transcript of the Victor Kislyi video as you know. I spent over an hour mostly pausing, trying to understand Victor’s words and typing things down but the more time I spent examining the video, the more I started becoming like an agent Mulder.
I had paid special attention to the first meeting Victor did with the Russians and also experienced it as one of the invited people to the Cyprus office, to represent the English community and the whole thing at NA seemed… off, too orchestrated, even the hour-long uncut version did so.
There are a couple of things that raised me red flags: First of all, this is a meeting that is supposed to be for players and between players and Victor/Devs only, instead, Paul Barnett a WG employer (who was all over his boss) led the conversation/meeting. Second, who the heck were most of those people in the room? I could recognize at least 4 of them but the rest? What communities do they even have to represent the majority? Don’t take me wrong here but there are NA content producers who should have been there and were not in sight, like Zeven_NA for example, he wasn’t even invited. People like him dedicate so much time of their life for the NA (and all other EN) community and receive so little recognition its sad, it upsets me.
And Rita, why don’t they receive recognition? Let me explain, besides everything people and even I may say about the EU office, the guys at Paris actually have a really well-organized -CC(Community Contributor)- system and are very community oriented. Pretty much, one of the main tasks of the Community Managers and Coordinators is to keep content producers like myself as happy as possible.
There are no contracts or payments being done, not that type of happy of course, but they do make sure to look after their own by giving press accounts and being present at all times, even after-work hours they are always around for us and even I who for this past year have, still and will anger them as frequently as a boiling in-hormones teenager, when the old Status Report was being temporarily held by the Google police due to fraudulent reports, one of the higher guys at the office immediately reached out to me and pulled some strings with his contacts at Google to speed up my case, they also (I nearly forgot) notify/invite everyone beforehand to the events that WG is taking part on EU so we can meet and greet you.
NA is not like this, I’ve been up late for this past nights catching timezones, talking to various people from ‘Murica and they did had a system, “Club Wargaming” seems to have been called, which apparently got canned because the staff didn’t listen to their CCs’s advice. Now, don’t believe that things on EU were always all fine and dandy, oh trust me, they were not! But last year for example, during TankFest 2015, WG EU gathered in a private room with all the CCs present and we got to discuss things that had to be modified in order to improve. They listened, they changed and things been, not perfect but good enough.
The NA office has the same job positions filled in as EU does but instead, NA staff is more focused on self-promoting and creating/maintaining their persona, leaving their content producers/community contributors hung out to dry. From all the people I’ve spoken to, there is a common complaint: WG NA is inconsistent and unreliable, if/when they bother to answer back they promise all good things but then rarely deliver.
Gathered some quotes from the people I’ve spoken to:
“However, some streamers get some tanks, and some don’t. There does not appear to be a lot of rhyme or reason to it. I remember one instance where *Bob* was told he was going to get a tank to play on his stream… and then just never did.”
“They gave me a t-22 and didn’t even tell me.
I just sat there looking at it like what the hell is this?
Then checked the new update and was like oh, I guess I’ll stream it then?”
“I swear I have no idea who to talk to at this point. They (WG NA) all seriously flake or don’t respond.”
And this goes on and on and on…but I’m sure you already got the point.
This does not only apply to Streamers/YouTubers but also when it comes to general feedback gathering from the community, serious things like bugs and game balance, they will find excuses to not pass it along to Minsk or simply ignore. Recently, I’ve found this extremely nice and passionate young man over the NA forum for example, who was for months trying to get the attention of the NA staff on how a certain tech tree which is extremely undermined could be improved, NA staff’s answer to him was “Minsk is not interested”. We had a talk and he explained in detail and with historical backgrounds of how things could be balanced and I immediately realized that his ideas are the exact type of thing that Minsk would get a hard-on for. I sent the info to one of my contacts and his answer immediately was “We are very interested in this!” It took me absolutely no time or effort and it honestly irate me that they spend illogically more effort finding excuses to not do their job than actually doing something so simple which can improve the game and make players happier.
Back to the red flags -By the way, this is when things start getting interesting, all of the answers were given by a person that doesn’t want to be named and that was present at the meeting-, another thing that came to mind, Victor visited NA at the end of March 2016, now, when was the Rubicon fiasco? I went to check the exact date actually, the news that Rubicon had been cancelled were in 30 of October, 2015, that’s… over 5 months ago. Why is he still talking about it? And why only after 5 months he visited NA to talk about it?
Well, what happened is that people were warned and asked to fly and be in California only a week previous, WG NA completely disregarded the fact that these people have jobs, school and families, still they complied. The only reason there was a meeting at all is because the GDC (Game Developer Conference) was taking place during that time and Wargaming is busy promoting their baby, Master of Orion, that was the sole reason for Kislyi to fly there.
Also, have you noticed how formal and concise all questions made to Kislyi were in comparison with EU meeting?
Basically NA asked people what questions they wanted to make (which by the way were very good ones) but the staff didn’t like them and kept things silent, sent the tickets and once people arrived to the office they were presented with a bag of questions that they were allowed to make on record, there was absolutely no freedom of speech.
“Once we got there, they basically had a bag, and Victor already had answers to all of this questions, he goes “Hey! Here is the bag with all these questions, he has already thought about these before and these are the question you have to ask on-screen” and I asked, “Is this for a TV show or we are actually going to ask this guy questions?” and he said: “Yeah this is for a show” and I was instantly disappointed.”
“I was rushed! I mean really rushed! It was literally ” Hey guys! This is what we are doing! Here are some questions! We found these, they are questions from the forums yada yada!” I mean, even the questions we sent them didn’t even get asked!”
“It was basically: Who wants this question? Who wants that question? Just like an auction! And I was like “I guess I will ask this question…” They had a guy asking about CW, he is not even in a clan! He doesn’t care about clans! “So, why are we asking this questions?” and they say, “Well someone has to do it, if you don’t want we will give it to someone else”, so I took it, I mean I flew all the way here, let me ask a question.
We had to read it and remember it, all script style and they made us saying over and over again for the camera(cut)”
“It didn’t go as planned, I didn’t got to ask any questions on the record, it doesn’t matter that we could make question off the record because the whole point was making him answer to questions that the community been asking for the last 5 years!”
“I felt used, I felt really used. I am grateful that they flew out there, to go to San Francisco to meet this guy (Victor) and visit a WG office and try stuff out but we weren’t really given any information, they didn’t tell us anything and I felt lied to and it wasn’t something that it was worth my time.”
You know, not even EU tried to pull this kind of shit… it’s clear that the whole thing at NA was nothing but a cheap half-arsed PR stunt but although the EU and RU meetings also had a PR aspect to it, things were completely different. I was the first person that got invited and knew over a month beforehand that was supposed to catch a plane to Cyprus, I did had a casual conversation with a staff member from Cyprus of how things would take place and didn’t even had to ask anything, he immediately told me to “not be polite with words aka no bullshit”, they ASKED US to be as open as possible and actually discuss game and community matters with them, part of it was recorded, I did a transcript for you and Jingles even uploaded the whole conversation with Slava and Victor for you but there was more of it that went off-record, we talked until there was nothing more to speak, it was a full extenuating day. We did had a WG EU person with us, but he was there just representing and leading us around the place, he never ever tried to censure or control freak us.
NA didn’t even sent the meeting’s data to people, instead they kept it to themselves while Cyprus/EU gave us the raw data to do whatever we wanted with it. And how I know this was all NA’s decision and not Victor’s? Because besides the whole trying to look cool and all the philosopher talk he gives, Victor is actually a really good guy and he trusts us. There were things at Cyprus that he talked about and knew that he was being recorded, relaxed funny off-topic subjects which he kindly asked us to cut to keep it professional and we complied. In the video even Victor looks a bit forced to play these guys game…
And talking about the video, I asked if WG allowed them to record the meeting:
-“No.They told us no because it was under NDA, we couldn’t do anything with it. Everything we did that day was under NDA, couldn’t mention it and they basically said that if we wanted to write, say, do anything cellphone or recording-wise we literally had to run it trough MeatHead Militia and basically nothing was allowed trough.”
RG: -“Did you signed a NDA? If not there’s none.”
-“The thing is, we had to sign in the whole Wargaming office and that was our NDA. Basically the minute we checked in under the area under MeatHead’s information we were no longer allowed to say anything, we were not allowed in our phones specially in the computer rooms, we could pictures only of the actual office away from computers. They were on us like a hawk, this time… last time we were able to wander around and check stuff out and they didn’t care but this time they were on us and we literally couldt do anything.
-“If we wondered away for a split second they would be like “HEY WHERE YOU GOING, HEY! COME HERE! Nah Nah! No! Nah Nah! “
Also, do you want to know one of the reasons the video looked so weird? This is so bad I started laughing…
-“We talked for two and half hours and actually believe or not when we were there, that whole first part we did, if you notice is cut showing us and then showing him its because they f*cked up the audio. So they recorded nothing. We had to do it a second time hence why if you watch some of the other video you notice there is no sound coming out from us whatsoever.
-“So people started leaving to the airport and they needed to redo it again.”
RG: -“So, you already leaving for the airport and they were like “Wait… hold on! Let’s do this all again?”
-“Yeah, they were like “omg omg omg we didn’t get any of the audio at all!” so Victor was like “ok… I’m going to take a break” and he walks away.”
-They were like: “People that have to leave go now, people who can stay please group together and make it look like you are still here”. We had to shoot everything in 30minutes, and as we were doing this people were leaving because they had to catch flights, it was hilarious!
RG: “I also found strange that Victor sometimes sounded surprised to things that he already had heard before in my meeting”
-“Its because there was no audio, so he had to redo those answers for the camera after we left” (He pretty much had to “act”/repeat his answers hence his emotions and facial expressions were weird/different than usual at the time)
NA server used to be my favourite, I know great people who work/worked there like Major_Rampage, Justin (Who left recently, really nice person), The_Chieftain, hum, he is okay too and I’ve been hearing decent things from MeatHead Militia (many of the interviewed said that MeatHead is pretty much the only one they have been able to reach) but honestly I don’t like at all the direction the North American office is taking, after the whole Rubicon thing Wargaming promised that would be more open with us and instead these guys managed to cross so many “no no” lines recently that they started looking as bad as the Gaijin/Warthunder totalitarian Gulag staff.
It saddens me to see so much Youtuber/streamers potential being overlooked by some big egos who prefer directing the cameras and resources at themselves and that they treat the community this way, NA were to be the nice cool guys in my eyes,but I’ve lost my complete trust in them.
WG NA: Useful as an ashtray on a motorbike.