Who can you trust in the gaming industry to give you honest feedback about games and hardware? Many people know about corrupt practices in the industry and dodgy reviewers, as well as websites who may (or may not) take the occasional backhander in return for favourable coverage, but still, it seems, there are some sites out there that have managed to build up a reputation for their honest opinion. The problem is, unless you’ve been embedded in the heart of a website’s community for some time, or have learned to trust the opinion of a specific writer, then who can people really trust?
Well, the answer, right up until this week, was: gamers, of course. Here’s what I generally do if I want an unbiased opinion of a game, an accessory or piece of hardware. I don’t often read online reviews, but head into one of the gaming communities and scour forums for opinions from gamers and check out YouTube for honest commentary and gameplay footage. Well, that’s what I did do. Sadly, it now seems I can’t even trust the gamers.
As you've probably heard by now, it's been revealed this week that Microsoft has teamed up with Machinima to offer video creators the chance to earn some extra bucks by producing video coverage of Xbox One games. Nothing wrong with that at all, until you discover the shady deal and the agreement that users had to adhere to in order to get a pay-out. Video creators were not permitted to say "anything negative or disparaging about Machinima, Xbox One, or any of its games". Furthermore, they were not allowed to reveal they were being paid for this positive, or should I say non-negative, coverage.
What’s so wrong about this isn’t the fact that Microsoft is paying people to help it promote Xbox One, it’s the fact that it has stipulated that those people cannot let others know they’re being paid. Well, that’s deception then isn’t it? When we have an advertorial on PSU, we are bound by law to let our readers know that it’s a SPONSORED POST, that it’s paid-for content. YouTube is now awash with Xbox One gameplay videos taken by people hoping to earn a bit more cash for posting non-negative footage and at least 30 seconds worth of gameplay.
There was talk that Microsoft has breached U.S. Federal Trade Commission's guidelines due to the fact that the promotion prevented users from disclosing the relationship, but Microsoft and Machinima have released the following statement denying that was the case.
"This partnership between Machinima and Microsoft was a typical marketing partnership to promote Xbox One in December. The Xbox team does not review any specific content or provide feedback on content. Any confidentiality provisions, terms or other guidelines are standard documents provided by Machinima. For clarity, confidentiality relates to the agreements themselves, not the existence of the promotion."
To clarify, Microsoft claims that influencers could mention the video’s connection between Microsoft and Machinima. Well, that certainly wasn’t clear in the below contract that was sent to those involved, which still prevented people from saying how much they were earning and what they had to do to get the pay-out.
“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.”
Microsoft has basically encouraged the masses to advertise its wares without wanting anyone outside of its influencer’s circle to know that’s the case. This stinks of desperation for a console that most gamers know is essentially a T.V. box first and a games console second. This is obviously an attempt to try and reverse that mind-set. Microsoft has dragged gamers into the dirty world of advertising for the sake of trying to convince people that Xbox One is more than a glorified T.V. set-top box and, in the process, it's fragmented the gaming community. Way to go. Who should we trust now?
Are you riled by Microsoft’s latest advertising campaign? Do you think that those who were paid were sell-outs? Is this really Machinma's fault? Or do you think this was actually a decent promotion? Let us know in the comments below.
Source: Original story