Microsoft pays off YouTube stars

News Aaron Birch
21 Jan 2014 - 03:39

To beef up the reputation of the Xbox One, Microsoft has been offering payouts to YouTubers...

It's fair to say that the Xbox One hasn't endeared itself to a lot of people, even if the initial hatred for the unit has waned somewhat over time (in the US it actually outsold the PS4 in December). Still, Microsoft isn't happy with the overall opinion of the unit, and wants this to change.

In fact, Microsoft is so determined to improve the public perception of the console, it's apparently offering money to YouTube broadcasters to drop in positive mentions for the next gen hardware.

According to a report from ArsTechnica, Microsoft has teamed up with Machinima to offer partners an extra $3 per thousand views if they mention the Xbox One positively in their videos. The criteria that needs to be followed by YouTube broadcasters is positive mention of the Xbox One by name, at least 30 seconds of game footage on the unit and the inclusion of the tag 'XB1M13'.

These payments were originally advertised via Twitter by Machinima's UK community manager and on Machinima's feed on Poptent. The Twitter post has been deleted. The Poptent post also mentions an earlier campaign offering $1 per thousand views.

So, what's the problem? Everyone has the right to push their products, right? Well, yes and no. You see, as stated by ArsTechnica, the big issue here is that the promotion comes with caveats specifying that YouTubers can only mention the Xbox One and Machinima in a positive way, and that their involvement in the scheme is confidential. In other words, if they want the extra cash, only say the Xbox One is great and tell no one why you're saying so.

Microsoft didn't invest too heavily in this deal, though, only offering to pay for the first 1.25 million views, but it's clearly a subversive tactic, and one that Microsoft knows is dodgy, otherwise it wouldn't go to such measures to keep it secret.

This may not only go against FTC guidelines on endorsement and advertising (which states that the public has to be aware of such deals), but it also casts doubt over your favourite YouTube personalities. Although the scheme has apparently only been taken up by a relatively small number of YouTube broadcasters, there may well be some who have suddenly changed their tune about the Xbox One. If you've noticed this, then now you know why.

What do you think? Is this kind of promotion and advertising fair, or has Microsoft gone too far? Let us know in the comments.


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