Report: Microsoft Paying YouTubers For Secret, Only-Positive Xbox One Advertising

By | 3 years ago 

[Update: Machinima & Microsoft Respond]

If the last few months have shown us anything it’s that the Let’s Play community has significant pull in the world of video games. Nintendo felt its wrath after issuing a slew of copyright claims, and then YouTube felt its wrath when the dynamics behind copyright claims changed.

And while the Let’s Play community is seen as groups of gamers with mostly noble causes, a new story suggests some “dirty work” is also at play. The report claims that some video makers were paid by Microsoft to promote their new Xbox One console, and they were asked to do so without actually highlighting their content as promotional.

The news comes to us courtesy of Ars Technica, who has discovered a contract between Microsoft and Machinima — one of the top video makers in the LP and gaming news community — that offers an additional $3 per 1,000 views. To earn said cash, video makers needn’t do anything more than make a video focused on any Xbox One game, and hit the associated viewer count of course.

Actually, there’s a little more to the contract. As it turns out, these video makers are not allowed to mention that they are being paid to promote the Microsoft product and they cannot say anything negative or disparaging about Microsoft, Machinima, the Xbox One, or any of said console’s games. In other words, these Machinima partners are making Xbox One commercials but disguising them as non-promos which may be breaking Advertising and Marketing guidelines established by the FTC, as pointed out by Ars Technica.

Since this news has come to light some of the incriminating evidence has disappeared from the net but, as we know, nothing ever truly disappears online. The contract has made its way online and can be read here.

While, in many cases, Let’s Play video makers are being used to promote the products they feature on their channels, they are doing so with honest criticism and full transparency. Some may shy away from mentioning whether they received a game for free and, in turn, avoid saying anything negative about the game, but they are typically never asked to do anything more than play the game and share videos. It is their choice to comment how they wish.

This Microsoft/Machinima situation, on the other hand, is a lot different. Here is a case where video makers promoted a product from a biased perspective without informing their viewers of the sponsorship. As Ars Technica discovered, the full funds for the Xbox One campaign have been exhausted — there wasn’t much offered, mind you — so plenty jumped at the opportunity.

The good news is that, thanks to the availability of cheap streaming software and devices, not to mention the PS4 and Xbox One‘s video creation and streaming tools, Let’s Play video makers are now a dime-a-dozen. As a result, gamers can find a voice/personality they enjoy and also trust.

How do you feel about Microsoft paying YouTube video makers for additional promotion somewhat secretly? In what circumstances would you be okay with the idea?

[Update: Machinima & Microsoft Respond]

Source: Ars Technica