The PR and marketing dev for Wales Interactive claims that a popular YouTuber asked for $22,000 to cover one of the studio’s games.
Ben Tester, who also doubles as environment artist, wrote on Reddit that his “jaw dropped” when asked to pay for coverage from an unnamed YouTuber who boasts “a few million subscribers.”
“On one of my normal PR rounds I received an email from a very popular YouTuber with a few million subscribers offering to have one of our games featured on their YouTube channel for a rate of either $17,600 for 2-3 talking points or $22,000 for 2-3 talking points AND a description link,” he said.
“Upon reading this my jaw dropped. Is this real? Are there developers out there that pay that sort of money to have their game featured in one video?”
Tester does not make clear whether this coverage would have been labelled as sponsored or paid promotion. Clearly labelled such a payment would be a business deal, but for many the lines between paid content, advertising and independent coverage on YouTube are difficult to separate. Wales Interactive declined the offer.
“I must stress that I emailed the YTer first to ask if they would like to receive a free code for our game to play for their channel,” he said. “The YTer did NOT mention anything about making a ‘positive’ promotion nor was this a scam from a fake YTer. Finally I’d like to state that I refused the offer.”
Last week it emerged that YouTubers Syndicate and SkyVsGaming were paid up to $30,000 to promote the launch of the Xbox One positively without disclosing details of the deal to viewers. FTC rules state any paid promotional activity must be clearly labelled as such, and failure to do so can result in a fine.
In the same Reddit thread, user slowbeef, one of the first people to create and popularise Let’s Play videos on YouTube, lamented the exploitation of some developers by a minority of the Let’s Play and YouTube gaming channels
“I obviously am in no position to speak on behalf of the LP community, I can only say personally that I’m really sorry that this happened.
“We always wanted to foster a symbiotic relationship with game developers (we used to have rules about LPing games early so as not to impact sales before learning devs generally liked early LPs/coverage).”
“I don’t like this trend, and I want to do what I can to spread the word about it. Game developers shouldn’t be exploited like this and most every Let’s Player I’ve talked to about this agrees that it’s disgusting,” he added.