Microsoft Isn’t the Only Company that Will Pay For Promotion on YouTube

In the last few days a scandal exploded (reported by Ars Technica and others) due to an agreement between Microsoft and Machinima to bring positive coverage to the Xbox One on YouTube, but apparently and unfortunately Microsoft isn’t the only company enacting that kind of practice, as showcased by the screencaps at the bottom of the post, unveiled by NeoGAF user shinobi602.

The “assignments” given via one of the many networks operating on YouTube and leaked by an unnamed source, are very specific, aiming to show the game in the best light. They also clearly forbid to talk about major glitches and bugs shipped with the games displayed, showing that Microsoft isn’t alone in the attempt to “encourage” YouTubers to go in a positive direction with their coverage.

According to the source, the contract he had to sign also included the following non disclosure clauses.

You agree to keep confidential at all times all matters relating to this Agreement and any Assignment including, without limitation, the Details and Compensation listed above.

You understand that You may not post a copy of this Agreement or any Assignment or any terms thereof online or share them with any third party without EA’s prior written consent. You agree that You have read the Nondisclosure Agreement (attached hereto and marked as Exhibit A) and You understand and agree to all of terms of the Nondisclosure Agreement, which are incorporated as part of this Agreement.

Talking to the owners of two popular YouTube channels (that requested to remain anonymous) to verify the information, we were told that this practice isn’t at all uncommon on YouTube, and that several publishers give quite explicit instructions to drive positive coverage on their games, often with the promise of compensation. Even when the specific agreements don’t forbid the owner of the YouTube channel to disclose their existence,  that’s often covered by the initial contract between him and the network.

We were also told that this isn’t limited to games, but it extends to many other kinds of products outside the video gaming field. Finally, we learned that in most cases the bulk of the bonus isn’t (predictably) paid to the owner of the YouTube channel that does most of the promotion work, but remains with the network itself.

While by no means we endorse or approve of this kind of practice, and as a matter of fact we find it quite contemptible, it extends way beyond Microsoft, and it’s deeply rooted in the often shady labyrinth of YouTube promotion. This, of course, is not to say that all, or even a majority of YouTube users or networks engage in it, but you may want to consider the fact that it’s not as uncommon as it may seem.

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Join the Discussion

  • “you may want to consider the fact that it’s not as uncommon as it may seem.”

    Uncommon or not, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s unethical.

    • Boerewors

      Thin line between this and “experts” on tv claiming that their product works better than others. Although this sounds more sneaky, the whole idea behind paying for commercials is to promote and endorse products. If actors in commercials were free in what to say, we wouldn’t have advertisement at all. I think celebrities or “experts” like doctors promoting products is equally unethical by this standards.

      • Dennis Crosby

        Agree with this has been going on for a very long time no one cared about this until Microsoft was on the agreement. Every website is using this for the soul fact of bring traffic to there pages trying get that traffic the gotten around E3.some website sign agreements like this also and promote products and can’t speak bad about it either but know one is bringing that up

        • If some of these “websites” do this, then it’s HIGHLY unethical for them to do so. They should be posting UNBIAS reviews and UNBIAS posts.

          • bowserslovechild

            Absolutely. But if you wave enough money under anyone’s nose, then it is bound to be tempting. I’m not excusing them or disagreeing with you, it’s disgusting. Buy your way to positive press, way to go.

      • Prime157

        Just like “experts” (on both sides) in the court room.

    • Giuseppe Nelva

      Absolutely. No one denied that.

  • ISISSecretAgent

    gotta love those EA conditions for BF4 lol

    • bowserslovechild

      Almost as funny as the pure lines of people I saw in GAME, consoles in arms, returning their devices off the back of this game.

  • AJ

    Of course this isn’t uncommon. MS is just the company that got caught. Thanks to Machinima.

  • kevin

    Am not worried and not bothered by it seeing as how each legal team representing each company has looked into it before any action or deals were committed to.

  • Daniel Dorestant

    The thing ppl aren’t happy about is the fact that the promotion could not be mentioned in the video.

    The allusion that its their own opinion

    But hey if that part is common too… That sucks

    • AJ

      That is why you believe almost nothing that you are being told and half of what you see when things are being promoted, and you’ll be just fine. They’ll do whatever it takes to get your money, that’s all they care about.

      • Daniel Dorestant

        I agree, I haven’t watched a review to justify or avoid a game purchase since Armored Core on the original playstation.

        But I’m afraid not everyone is a savvy consumer

        • Prime157

          Yeah, I’ve worked at gamestop part-time for almost three years, and not being able to play all the games has pissed me off (two jobs takes too much time and games are awesome)… I love do many games that get a 4-6 rating…

  • I’ve overheard more than a handful of conversations where WAY more unethical practices occur between publishers and video game outlets. I see why people feel this is unethical, but honestly what I see is just an unorthodox means of purchasing advertising.

    • Prime157

      Oh, since there are worse that makes these minor infractions ok? “Oh, you didn’t kill him, you just paralyzed him.”

  • Obambush

    Sony got sued for doing this with their movie reviews.

  • Franggio Hogland

    As a silly MS denier, my dislike for Windows transfered to Xbox. All I can say, it isn’t MS that did wrong. It was Machimas stupid contract.

    I’m right in assuming that the leaked contract was from Machima and not MS contract?

  • PhantomVash808

    How surprising is it that the 2 companies currently in bed with each other (EA & Microsoft) were caught doing this.

    • Prime157

      I loled, ty! So true, very similar businesses practices. EA has been voted the worst company a few times in a row, and they SAY it bothers them, but they don’t get why… ms is up there too.

  • Los Illuminados

    lol. i really don’t like EA & Microsoft.

    • Prime157

      I know this happens a lot, but I know it happens a lot more amidst these two.

  • bowserslovechild

    I am never, EVER getting a One. This article just cemented that fact firmly in the ground. I just don’t trust them, not one bit.

  • You are flat out wrong

    Microsoft and EA, the two most malignant entities in vidya. What a surprise.

  • Corey

    dude…..this isn’t even anything. They are not saying “you can’t say bad things about our game.” Or “you have to lie.” Or….”you cannot mention anything wrong with the game or product.”

    Gaming community is always SOOOO desperate to create drama.