A US investigation has found that YouTubers were secretly paid thousands of dollars to promote the Xbox One launch.
News of the scandal first emerged in January of last year, after details where leaked of what YouTube group Machinima described as a ‘typical marketing partnership’; where YouTubers were paid to say nice things about the Xbox One but not ‘anything negative or disparaging about Machinima, Xbox One, or any of its games’.
It quickly emerged that this was relatively common practice amongst games publishers, with more honest YouTubers admitting they were constantly approach to do (secretly) paid advertising.
Microsoft has always maintained it didn’t know what its advertising agency Starcom was doing, and forced the videos to indicate they were paid advertising once they found out.
Nevertheless, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) initiated an investigation, which discovered that YouTube channel Syndicate was paid $30,000 (£19,639) for two videos.
SkyVsGaming was paid $15,000 (£9,820) and other assorted YouTubers a total of $25,000 (£16,366). All of which required them to not only say nothing negative about Xbox One but also keep secret the fact that they were being paid to do so.
This is definitely illegal in the UK, but although it’s more of a grey area in America the FTC described the activities as ‘false and misleading’.