YouTube users are reporting that Microsoft is paying video content creators to promote its next-gen Xbox One. A number of them allege they’ve received e-mails offering up to $3 per 1,000 views of Xbox One-related content.
Well-known game video creator Machinima ran an endorsement giving users a monetary reward for saying positive things about the Xbox One. Rumors of the promotion first appeared when a member on NEOGaf openly advertised Microsoft’s stipulations -- 30 seconds of gameplay footage along with only positive endorsements of its latest console. Machinima UK confirmed the promotion in a tweet that was later deleted.
While there may be nothing ethically wrong with Microsoft using video makers to spread the word about the XBox One, the alleged confidentiality agreement makes promoting the system a bit confusing. Users who enter the agreement are forbidden to talk about the promotion, which will lead to disqualification from any type of monetary compensation.
According to FCC guidelines, there are specific regulations regarding "a connection between the endorser and the seller of the advertised product that might materially affect the weight or credibility of the endorsement.” Because YouTube users are technically operating as journalists, monetary rewards for expressing a biased viewpoint would be considered unethical -- since they would have to let viewers know they’re receiving financial rewards for endorsing the Xbox One.
The agreement also said that Machinima would not pay any bonuses after users reached a collective 1.25 million views.
The Xbox One, which launched in 13 countries on Nov. 22, sold 3 million units worldwide before the end of 2013. The next-gen console, which hit shelves in Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Austria, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Ireland, Mexico, the U.K., The U.S. and Australia during its initial release, touted itself as an all-encompassing source of entertainment. Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) reported that the console sold 1 million units within the first 24 hours of its launch. These sales figures evenly matched Sony’s PlayStation 4, which reached consumers on Nov. 15 and also sold 1 million units within 24 hours of its shelf date.
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