Xbox One: paid Machinima videos to be labelled as adverts, says Microsoft

Wednesday, 22nd January 2014 10:30 GMT By Dave Cook

Microsoft has confirmed that it asked Machinima to label its paid Xbox One video content as adverts, after it was revealed that YouTubers would only be paid a higher rate for saying nice things about Xbox One in their videos.

We covered the initial Xbox One Machinima deal through the link. A clause in the initial incentive stated, “You may not say anything negative or disparaging about Machinima, Xbox One or any of its Games in your Campaign Video.” The line triggered a scathing response from gamers, who accused both firms for deceiving viewers through what are essentially, adverts.

We then posted a response from Microsoft, in which the company said that this kind of marketing deal is typical, and stressed, “The Xbox team does not review any specific content or provide feedback on content.”

Now, Microsoft has elaborated in a statement to Eurogamer, which reads, “Microsoft was not aware of individual contracts Machinima had with their content providers as part of this promotion and we didn’t provide feedback on any of the videos.

“We have asked Machinima to not post any additional Xbox One content as part of this media buy and we have asked them to add disclaimers to the videos that were part of this program indicating they were part of paid advertising.”

We’ll wait to see if such disclaimers are indeed labelled on videos. What do you make of the above?



  1. Joe Musashi

    That seems a rather contrary tone to MS’s “This is typical stuff” response of yesterday.


    #1 11 months ago
  2. slk486

    Typical or not, they got caught, so damage control.

    #2 11 months ago
  3. SplatteredHouse

    @2 yeah. Someone’s knocked the inkwell over, and the text they were writing is in peril of becoming lost under the worsening spillage.

    #3 11 months ago
  4. dkpunk

    This horrible news! How dare they! Sony would never do something like this.

    #4 11 months ago
  5. TheBlackHole


    If people have only just started to realise that YouTube videos are often created with the funding of video game publishers, then they’ve all been very dense.

    This is not new or all that controversial, but unfortunately once people get up in arms about something you have no choice but to be reactive to it and try to mitigate that backlash.

    It IS typical, but that doesn’t stop people giving MS shit about it.

    Sony do the same though, make no mistake about that.

    #5 11 months ago
  6. Gheritt White

    I’ll just leave this here:

    #6 11 months ago
  7. Marcus Gv

    I’m really suprised that people are surprised at this. It doesn’t bother me one bit, in fact, I think this type of funding will increase the production quality of the videos.

    The Youtubers concerned just need to realise that they need to advertise these products in an ethical manner (i.e. be honest about their opinion)

    #7 11 months ago
  8. The_Red

    Except that according to multiple YouTubers (Including Boogie and Northernlion), all other companies ask the video makers to MENTION the marketing / advertisement rather than hide it behind NDA.

    #8 11 months ago
  9. Joe Musashi

    Every single person that has uttered ‘it’s not new’ or some other dismissive defense has gone on to prove themselves to be blissfully unaware of the key difference that, in fact, makes this very new: the NDA.

    It’s a key differentiating detail from all that has gone before, and it is pivotal in the questionable legality of the practice.

    Hence all the fuss.

    If you have evidence of what you claim, then it would be helpful to provide it (perhaps show an earlier agreement from one of these other companies that shows how common the practice is).

    Adding speculative and unsupported claims to a topic only serves to muddy the waters. And on a topic such as this which has people questioning what they should trust when they see or read it, it really is a poor practice to fling out such claims so haphazardly.

    Even then, why the changing tone from Microsoft?? “Typical practice” one day, “reclassified as adverts” the next.

    Microsoft’s own behaviour shows that is far from ‘business as usual’.


    #9 11 months ago
  10. TheBlackHole


    Sorry, the NDA is also not new. The difference is that here somebody squealed. Usually, the NDA actually works and people don’t talk about it.

    I’m not sure where the questionable legality is. Perhaps you could elaborate?


    Patently not true. Many, like FreddieW, might say that ‘this game company gave us this cool access to a game’ but still fail to admit that it is tantamount to paid advertising, as they were paid to make a video designed to advertise a product in a positive way.

    #10 11 months ago
  11. Cobra951

    How is it illegal? “Reprehensible” is the worst term I can think for it. And the fallout is more publicity for them, which is seldom a bad thing.

    Was anyone here surprised? Really?

    #11 11 months ago
  12. Kreion


    No, the difference is that some people are well aware that all companies will do whatever they need to for good press – most especially big ones. They only difference here is that people have suddenly become aware that Youtubers are biased and not above being paid off.

    Go figure.

    This is perfectly legal – to suggest otherwise just shows how little you know about what companies actually get away with.

    #12 11 months ago
  13. Marcus Gv

    To all those who are upset by this, can I remind you that YouTube is a free service.

    I don’t understand this need to be told when and if someone is advertising to you. Do you get upset when you see Apple doing product placements in films & TV programmes?

    If you don’t like what a YouTuber is saying, don’t watch their channel.

    #13 11 months ago
  14. The_Red

    “I’m not sure where the questionable legality is. Perhaps you could elaborate?”

    FTC updated their guidelines last year to cover this exact same issue. The NDA for payment part is EXPLICITLY illegal.

    #14 11 months ago
  15. TheBlackHole

    “NDA for payment part is EXPLICITLY illegal”

    So if I pay for advertising I’m not allowed to have them not talk about it?

    Unless I misunderstood you.


    #15 11 months ago
  16. The_Red

    If it is in the context of Machinima / MS contract (Influencer Deal), yes:

    FTC updated its guidelines last year to cover these influencer promotions.

    #16 11 months ago
  17. Joe Musashi

    TheBlackHole (and others), before asking for links from others how about you provide some evidence of your “Everybody else does it”.

    Making claims with no proof, challenging legalities with no proof and avoiding some very curious behaviour from Microsoft (their change in tone over the last 24 hours) doesn’t make for a very convincing argument.

    Let’s see some examples to back up your insistance of both:

    a) The specific NDA clause has been present before
    b) “Sony do the same though, make no mistake about that.”

    EDIT: Well it seem #16 has been courteous enough to provide the [further] evidence you requested. I’m sure you’ll reciprocate in respect of your own, as yet unsubstantiated, claims.


    #17 11 months ago
  18. TheBlackHole


    I’m not here to convince you of anything Joe, and nor am I about to reveal who I am by telling you about deals I’ve worked on for publisher’s in the past.

    Suffice to say that this is not new to video game marketing, nor to big publishers. I really can’t say I’m bothered either way whether you believe that or not. I’m joining a discussion, not a trial.

    But I am grateful to @16 for providing the links, which I was asking about through curiosity and clarification, rather than a need to prove him wrong.

    One thing to note though – YouTubers hold MASSIVE value to publishers. Just do the maths – They can either spend £50-100,000 for a 30-60 second ad during the champions league final (those numbers are not exaggerated btw) and get 12-14 million ‘eyeballs’ who are mostly taking a piss or making tea… OR, I could pay a YouTuber with a strong audience £20-30k and get 5-10 million views from legitimate viewers who have an active interest in the channel, the content, and are watching because they want to, not because someone has decided to shove an ad between the gaps in the program they are trying to watch.

    That’s why all of a sudden these channels and users have become golddust. Why you suddenly hear that x-developer or x-publisher has sent a Youtuber a brand new demo of an unreleased game. Massive. Advertising. Potential.

    Whatever you believe about this particular issue, make no mistake that channel holders are an advertising goldmine and this stuff goes on everywhere.

    #18 11 months ago
  19. s3ltzer

    Sleazy and cheap tactics…this is Microsofts way of doing business. Anyone who has professional dealings in a an industry where Microsoft does business, can fully attest that they bribe. They’ve bribed in the telecom world for sure.

    It really shows the confidence that they have in their new product…very little.

    #19 11 months ago
  20. Joe Musashi

    Hmm. Nobody asked for identities to be revealed, proof can be provided anonymously – as we’ve just seen. More side-stepping.

    Given that you disputed the the topic before you had grasped the specifics of it (the legalities) and had already insisted that other companies did the same before knowing what Microsoft had done, adding to the numerous side-steps of the rather puzzled change in Microsoft’s tone and now your refusal/inability to substantiate your words with anything other than more unsubstantiated words…

    ..yet all the time you’re posturing as someone with more knowledge and insider information??

    Sorry. That chain of events make your words very hollow indeed.

    In this topic of mistrust, you have presented yourself as a highly qualified candidate.


    #20 11 months ago
  21. dkpunk

    I think Boogie’s (aka Francis) response sums it up pretty well. It’s pretty candid stuff.

    #21 11 months ago
  22. TheBlackHole


    Aside from the elongated response that doesn’t say a lot, what exactly is your point? You don’t believe me? Fine. I’ve no problem with that.

    Choose to believe it, or not. That’s the joy of the internet.

    Also, that Kotaku piece pretty much substantiates my point.

    #22 11 months ago
  23. Joe Musashi

    And Microsoft’s behaviour, the FTC and your absolute refusal to back up any single claim you’ve made (whilst you demonstrate ingorance but insist you know more than anyone else) substantiates mine.

    Nodding at links provided by others does not substantiate your claims. Not even close.


    #23 11 months ago
  24. TheBlackHole


    Of course it does, that’s a ridiculous thing to say. What difference does it make who the source is if the points being made are the same?

    That article quite clearly presents first hand evidence that this practice is both common and widespread. Why do I need to be the one to have posted that link for its contents to be valid?

    Also, where exactly do I insist that I know more than anybody else?

    #24 11 months ago
  25. DevilishSix

    This kind of activity became illegal last year with changes to FTC regulations. Doesn’t matter who is doing it, what matters is who gets caught. Oh and TheBlackHole you might not want to disclose that you worked for publishers and know this stuff happens first hand, it puts you in arms length of illegal business practices. Fraud Examiners and Regulators read forum posts like this one all over the internet all the time, so I wouldn’t act so proud of having first hand knowledge of such activity.

    #25 11 months ago
  26. Joe Musashi

    A link that doesn’t mention specific companies and does not mention the specific NDA aspect of these ‘common’ agreements in question absolutely does not substantiate your claims regarding the specific agreement and specific terms.

    Standing on the shoulders of others who have added substance and detail and asserting it applies to your spurious claims is disingenuous and inappropriate.

    It seems everything you say you expect people to take at face value, because the instant you actually look at the detail it is apparent that, so far, absolutely none of the claims you have made have anything to support them. If true then you could provide this substance, but instead you make excuses not to and repeatedly try to divert attention away from your unwillingness/inability to do so.


    #26 11 months ago
  27. TheBlackHole

    @25 It’s not about pride, it’s about making it clear to everyone who is up in arms towards Microsoft that they are neither the first, nor only offender. This is literally the only point I’m making.


    Let me just get one thing clear, so I’m absolutely sure I understand your stance. Do you genuinely believe that this is a new, isolated case, and that other publishers haven’t done this before?


    #27 11 months ago
  28. Joe Musashi

    What I genuinely believe and what HAS been reported with evidence, is that Microsoft’s agreement has a key difference to other, more common agreements – specifically the NDA clause which makes its legality questionable.

    I also, genuinely believe that the change in Microsoft’s tone from ‘it’s typical’ to ‘we will reclassify them as adverts’ is a significant change in tone (and a significance that, despite repeated observations, you have never acknowledged).

    What I do not believe is that, specifically the same agreements are commonplace.

    Since all this has been proven to be different in this instance and that your hollow assertion that everyone, including a specifically named company was presented before you understood the specifics of what was being discussed, that others highlighted for your benefit, and that even though you didn’t know the specifics of what you were disputing at the time you still insist that your claims are correct – inspite of your demonstration of ignorance and your insistence at never substantiating anything you say.

    If you have the ability to substantiate anything you claim, you could do so anonymously. As was done by in the Machinema/Microsft story itself. It is perfectly possible to do so without compromising yourself.

    But you refuse to do any of that. Insisting we overlook your display of ignorance and accept that you are uniquely positioned and more highly informed than anyone else on the topic.

    I would be more than happy to believe your claims, but your actions prevent me from doing so.


    #28 11 months ago
  29. TheBlackHole


    Seven paragraphs and you still couldn’t answer the question.

    You should be a politician.

    #29 11 months ago
  30. Joe Musashi

    Ah, more side-stepping.

    I answered the question comprehensively adding detail rather than being evasive or distracting from the point.

    In fact, everyone apart from you has been gracious enough to provide detail and substance to what they have said.

    You have made many responses here and, at no time, have chosen to ever provide substance to your claims.

    Every additional response that follows your proven behaviour of side-stepping and refusing to back up your claims erodes your credibility further.


    #30 11 months ago

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