So back when the Xbox One launched a couple years ago they had a promotional deal going with the team over at Machinima. The problem was, it turned out, that a bunch of video creators were paid to create positive videos about the Xbox One, without actually telling anybody they’d been paid to do it. That’s a big no-no. The FTC just announced the settlement regarding the issue and it’s not pretty.
As part of the statement the FTC writes:
Under the proposed settlement, Machinima is prohibited from similar deceptive conduct in the future, and the company is required to ensure its influencers clearly disclose when they have been compensated in exchange for their endorsements.
Needless to say they should have been doing that to begin with. Two Machinima shows: SkyVSGaming and TheSyndicateProject were specifically named as Sky’s Adam Dahlburg received $15,000 and Syndicate’s Tom Cassell received $30,000 for creating videos that appeared to contain their own personal opinions about the Xbox One and launch title Ryse, when, in actuality, they were little more than commercials.
The FTC document outlines the specific steps that Machinima was to take in order to create the videos, including requiring that the video show Microsoft in a positive light. It would be one thing if these shows were given early access because they believed the console and games would stand on their own and they just wanted some early buzz. They still should have disclosed they were paid, but an honest review by a paid spokesman would have honestly made any positive statements even stronger if they were included with honest criticism. As it is, even if these guys were 100% honest with everything they said, it’s now all been buried by the fact that everybody tried to hide their shenanigans.
This won’t be the last time somebody pays for a decent review, but hopefully it will at least give those people second thoughts.