RealGamerNewz - We Are Nex Gen

YouTube Community Being Criticized for Taking Cash From Publishers – Is It Really So Wrong? [New Data]

By Jon I in Industry Talk

YouTube Money Publishers

Those who create “Let’s Play” videos or otherwise do video podcasting and video reviews of video games on YouTube are currently being criticized for taking money from video game publishers to do their work. In a survey in which YouTube producers were polled, over 25% of YouTube gaming personalities admitted to taking money. But hold the phone, aren’t these website which are reporting on this news also taking money from publishers in the form of ads that often come with specific censorship-like stipulations? Yep.

So let’s REALLY talk about this…

When is it okay and when is it not okay for publisher to pay video game publications or YouTube channels to talk about their game? I think the answer is pretty universal and obvious. Those who charge for Review content are definitely crossing a line which should never be crossed. Paying for a positive opinion that is being advertised as genuine and unbiased is wrong on the part of the publisher, who should have never offered such a deal to these medium or small websites / YouTube channels of various sizes, who are essentially starving artists to begin with. Larger websites, well… we all know they are pretty much corrupt as all power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. So we’ll just leave them out of this for now.

However, accepting money from publishers for things like advertising, doing Let’s Play gameplay videos with non-evaluative commentary meant to inform the masses shouldn’t really be criticized without first taking a look at the individual content. Additionally, there are sometimes terms given to what would otherwise be perfectly normal payment campaigns and instead turn into more of a gray area situation. One recent example of this was the Xbox ONE campaign in which YouTube channels were paid handsomely to provide footage of the games on Xbox ONE and videos about the console overall – yet no negative statements about the brand were allowed on videos that expected to receive this bonus incentive payment. Some major networks that were involved in this included Machinima (a massive network of YouTubers which openly admitted they took part in this, to a controversial response from the community).

But think about it for a minute. If you were offering to pay for videos to spread awareness of your product, would you pay for videos that bashed it too? I think not. And to those who claim that they shouldn’t be able to pay for videos at all, well that just seems rather stupid. This industry is a business that is practically ignored by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and therefore has virtually no regulations enforced from it. That’s why you’ll see websites like RealGamerNewz tell you at the bottom of each review just how many copies of a game we received to do the Review (as required by FTC regulations) but huge sites like IGN get away with not telling you anything about what they received for a review (which often includes money, tons of physical and digital copies, and swag such as branded clothing, keychains, USB keys, headsets, you name it. This is largely due to the fact that the video games industry is an emerging technology business and therefore a lot of legal stuff is hard to rationalize. In many cases the FTC regulations are outdated for a business so rapidly evolving thanks to technology.

This is only part of the story of course, but I figured rather than re-hashing the simple way of telling this story that other sites are doing – I decided to shed a little more light on this issue. It’s not so black and white as people would have you believe. In fact, there’s much more to this than just YouTubers, much more to this than just YouTube videos, and there are many unanswered questions this industry must face – like how long until the FTC actually enforces its regulations, and how many of its regulations need to be updated to actually make sense for the video games world? For now, take a minute to think about these things on a deeper level and if you’ve got a spare moment let us know what you think.

Follow RealGamerNewz: Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | RSS

Your Comments

  • If you fully disclose, I don’t care. It just makes it easier for me to prove you’re a fraud when you miss all of the flaws in a game review. Review copies of games I’m a little more lenient on as some people just won’t buy the game and now they can (and with that having no bias).

    Either way, taking money from them is bad. Go the Patreon route. Your fans like you? Ask for a dollar a month. $12 a year doesn’t sound bad for even a couple hours of entertainment each month. Do the right thing and actually review games. Take money from a dev and a lot of people won’t take your review seriously. It’s why gaming journalism gets ragged on so hard as devs/publishers actively pay for a lot of stuff for the journalists. It’s hard to not see the conflict of interest, especially with YouTube guys.

    • The thing people don’t understand most of the youtuber who do lets plays are partnered on a different company like machinima who pays their partners directors from THEIR wallets. They get millions of dollars everyday through there own ad revenue that lets players aren’t taking money away from publishers at all, what’s happening is LP’ers are spreading the word of the game(free advertisements) from real gamers giving them their own thoughts.

      This article is inaccurate when it comes to partners. I’m a machinima partner I know what’s going on, we’re not taking money away from publishers all we’re doing it getting paid for trying to entertain others while advertising a video game and saying our thoughts.
      Reviews on youtube isn’t any different, and unlike websites like gamespot or IGN youtube game reviews are more honest, less dirty and has far more indepth information about the video game. Like Youtuber AngryJoeShow he puts so much content and time into his reviews and adds some entertainment value on the side too it’s a more complete review than the halfbaked reviews from IGN who only plays half of the game and spits out a review for $$$ where as youtubers actually finishes the full game and alot of the side quests THEN review the game. People relate more with them then IGN and pro reviews. In fact pro reviews needs to go and so does the number based review score as well on written reviews.

  • “One recent example of this was the Xbox ONE campaign in which YouTube channels were paid handsomely to provide footage of the games on Xbox ONE and videos about the console overall – yet no negative statements about the brand were allowed on videos that expected to receive this bonus incentive payment.”

    “But think about it for a minute. If you were offering to pay for videos to spread awareness of your product, would you pay for videos that bashed it too? I think not.”

    You missed the point. You can pay whomever you want to advertise your product and obviously you won’t pay someone to bash it. However, part of Microsoft’s rules restricted participants from disclosing that they were being paid. That is illegal. In other words, when viewers watch their favorite Youtube channels, they were under the impression that all of these vloggers were impressed with and totally supported the xbox one, which was far from the truth. Had viewers been made aware that they were being paid, their opinions would not have been as positive.

    It was a shady, plain dirty business practice that MS did and it makes me wonder how much more they are doing, that we haven’t figured out as yet.

Leave a Reply

  • RGN Daily News #34: Buyer Beware – Are Gameplay Trailers Real?
  • RealGamerNewz Interviews Doki Doki Universe Developer Human Nature Studios
  • Will PlayStation 4 and Xbox 720 Be The Last Console Generation?
  • RGN Daily News #60: GTA Online Patch + Stress Test Event Tomorrow
  • PAX East 2014: Hip Hop & Gaming: The Next Frontier – Random AKA MegaRan, HipHopGamer, MC Frontalot [Full WrapUp]
  • Metal Gear Solid 5 early info and possibilities
  • Will Call of Duty Ghosts Change the Industry [RGN Podcast]
  • ScreenCheat – Beta Impressions
  • RGN Daily News #16 – New Tomb Raider DLC + COD Ghosts
  • Vampires VS Humans In Nosgoth [Pax East 2014 Developer Interview + Hands On Demo] [HD]
  • Why I’m Excited For The Evil Within
  • Real A$$ Gamer #8 – Building A Better Fighting Game
  • Music: Scarface “No Problem” Directed by Mr. BoomTown [Official Music Video] [HD]