Getting Paid To Say Nice Things About Microsoft
Xbox One

It’s hard to make your living off YouTube. You get mere pennies per view on your channel, and there’s always the chance that you’ll end up having your videos taken down by an automated process that thinks, maybe, there is some copyrighted material in your videos. Heck, this has made it almost impossible for game channels to get paid, and considering the ludicrous amount of work it takes to make a gaming video, along with the absurd cost of tech like capture cards, it’s a wonder that anyone makes gaming videos at all.

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Luckily, Microsoft and Machinima are here to give you a little more money in exchange for completely compromising your morals and opinions. This weekend, word started leaking about a brand new promotion for Machinima video partners. The promotion would offer an additional three dollars per thousand video views (massive right?) All they would have to do is make the videos focus on Xbox One content. The campaign was advertised with the slogan “Earn an additional $3CPM bonus for promoting the Xbox One! It’s THAT EASY!”

But is it? The decision to play along with the promotion comes with a whole bunch of other constraints. Some are simple and not all that bothersome. For example, you need to include the tag XB1M13 and your video needs to include at least 30 seconds of Xbox One game footage. That seems basic enough. But further rules start to seem more and more sketchy. For example, videos produced for the promotion “may not say anything negative or disparaging about Machinima, Xbox One, or any of its Games.” In addition, the full details about the promotion must be kept completely confidential. Basically, you have to spend an entire video pimping the Xbox One without telling anyone that you are being paid to do so. 

Xbox One

That’s where the moral and even legal stickiness starts to get extra sticky. According to the FTC’s guidelines for the use of endorsements in advertising, your advertisement needs to fully disclose when there is “a connection between the endorser and the seller of the advertised product that might materially affect the weight or credibility of the endorsement.” For example, when Activision flies us out to California to try their newest Call of Duty game, we are required by law to say that they did so in our review. That way you guys know that the review, no matter how professional it is, is still filtered through the lens of “WOOO FREE CALIFORNIA TRIP!” That’s also why you see reviews mention when publishers sent the reviewer a free copy, or when the review was done at a review event. It’s our job to tell you under what conditions we are endorsing, or not endorsing, a video game.

However, this promotion seems to be completely ignoring the FTC guidelines, and for good reason! The videos wouldn’t be particularly effective marketing if their creators say “Microsoft paid me to say this” right at the beginning. Adding even more insult to injury, Microsoft is limiting their budget to only the first 1.25 million views generated by the promotion. This means that a multi-million dollar company is only willing to spend $3,750 on dedicated fans that pimped your game console for you. That’s like seven and a half Xbox Ones! It’s unclear if Machinima will continue paying participants afterward that maximum has been reached, or if video creators will just stop being paid. Either way, it’s clear that Microsoft doesn’t value these gamers that are compromising their opinions for them all that much.

So what do you think? Is this Microsoft promotion amoral? Is it against the law? Are they being too cheap for what they are asking? Would you even participate in this promotion if you had the chance? Let us know in the comments.

Angelo M. D'Argenio
Angelo M. D'Argenio

Senior Contributing Writer
Date: 01/21/2014

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