May Breach Federal Trade Commission Guidelines

A new report claims Microsoft has been paying YouTube gamers for posting videos showing their games in a positive light and banning them from making any negative criticisms.

According to Ars Technica , the new promotion targets Machinima video partners and offers users $3 for every 1,000 hits they receive on their videos, something Machinima themselves have now confirmed.

Video producers who want to take part have been told they need to post a video including at least 30 seconds of Xbox One game footage, mention Xbox One by name and add an ‘XB1M13’ tag.

It’s not unheard of for YouTube game presenters to participate in deals of this nature, but what makes this one so suspicious is that according to a leaked copy of the legal agreement, participants “may not say anything negative or disparaging about Machinima, Xbox One, or any of its games” and must keep the agreement confidential (i.e. must not state that the video is promotional in nature.

Not mentioning any negative points about a game is bad enough, but withholding the fact that you’re taking part in a PR exercise is outright deception.

It’s for this reason that Ars Technica says the promotion may violate the Federal Trade Commission’s guidelines on the use of endorsements in advertising, which state that video makers must 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”.