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A new Machinima promotion has been announced that offers YouTube content creators the chance to earn more money exchange for favorable reviews and coverage for their flagship console the Xbox One. Will this offer show that Microsoft is buying their way to the top and will fans disbelieve favorable YouTube personalities as they know they are getting paid more for favourable opinions? To me this is completely unethical but today I’m going to discuss the topic and would love to hear in the comments what you think as well.
Late last year YouTube’s ethics were called into question over the whole monetization of gaming content where YouTubers found themselves in a legal mess where YouTube had decided certain games were deemed worthy of copyright notification on millions of videos even though the companies themselves had never requested permission from the YouTuber. In fact many companies such as Capcom had endorsed people to use content of their games as they saw it as a positive form of free promotion of their games. Well, YouTube have learned from this experience and the whole debacle has seems to have calmed down…. until now that is.
The news of Machinima’s “partnership” if you will, came to light on Saturday, when word leaked that employees from the the video gaming group Machinima had sent out e-mails to their clients offering cash incentives for more coverage of Microsoft’s newest console the Xbox One. You can see the mail below:
Followed by a tweet from machinima’s Ron Smith (tweet has since been deleted)
This all seems a little bit underhand and feels like Microsoft is buying likes for the Xbox One. One thing it will allow is that the hard working YouTubers do get a better deal which is great, but surely this isn’t the way to go about it?. Cash in exchange for coverage? Many times over the years have popular YouTube personalities been called into question about the ethical nature of their videos and monetization and many of them have been very honest regarding what they earn from doing it but for the more conceited Tuber there are no unified standards. This sort of “buying” likes is surely a grey area which needs to be addressed by YouTube and Machinima themselves in order to avoid embarrassment and a possible PR disaster.
What is quite deceitful about the whole campaign is that Machinima has been quoted as saying, “You may not say anything negative or disparaging about Machinima, Xbox One or any of its Games in your Campaign Video.” and this is in itself wrong. You cannot force a person to like a video game or a specific feature of the Xbox One but to buy a YouTubers favorable words is just plain wrong and in other words is falsifying the opinions on a person who is credible within the field and who a lot of gamers or people look up to for advice and opinions, just so they may sell some extra copies of the game.
Machinima have also asked their partnered YouTubers to be confidential about the campaign which again leads to you feeling they are being underhand. One policy in the contract can be seen below.
“You agree to keep confidential at all times all matters relating to this Agreement, including, without limitation, the Promotional Requirements, and the CPM Compensation, listed above. You understand that You may not post a copy of this Agreement or any terms thereof online or share them with any third party (other than a legal or financial representative). 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 is incorporated as part of this Agreement.”
What I’m worried about is that other companies or games channels on YouTube will jump on the band wagon and get together with other game companies and start paying more for favorable reviews of its products and games. This will lead to saturated YouTube environment where you won’t know whose opinions to trust. This will inevitably lead to a decline in the viewing of YouTube videos by fans as they won’t know who to believe for original and honest opinions which is something I really hope doesn’t happen. Rumors are that Sony pay even more YouTubers for their positive nature about their games but I have thus far been unable to source any direct facts and these could be just rumors floating around the gaming community. One thing for sure though is that if this takes off I can only see it as having a negative effect on the gaming world.