A number of popular YouTube personalities in the gaming community have admitted to receiving money from publishers in order to create videos of their games.
In alleged agreements made between YouTubers and publishers, content creators were reportedly asked to not make any negative comments about the game they had been paid to cover, and were also asked to brush over any bugs or problems they had experienced with it. Speaking to Eurogamer, John ‘TotalBiscuit’ Bain, a prominent figure in the YouTube gaming community, said that a popular video game publisher had offered him a deal which would’ve seen him produce content based upon the company’s new game, saying: “They agreed to pay for the coverage so long as I agreed to not say anything negative about the game.”
Yogscast, which currently ranks as the most viewed gaming channel in the UK, also released information to Eurogamer regarding their ‘YogsDiscovery’ programme. This sees Yogscast working directly alongside publishers to create what is essentially advertorial content for new games, with the only evidence they give to notify their viewers that they are doing so being a line in the descriptions of these videos that reads: ‘A special thanks to [Developer/Publisher] for making this video possible.’ This suggests that Yogscast is comfortable with taking money from publishers, but realizes that they would receive a huge amount of backlash if they were to fully reveal that they had been paid by publishers to create some of their videos.
Meanwhile, in a survey conducted by Gamasutra, 141 YouTubers were questioned over YouTube and ethics, with 11 of these unnamed individuals (who each had over 5000 subscribers) admitting to having received payment from a publisher in order to cover a game.
While this in no way represents the YouTube gaming community on the whole, it’s certainly something to think about for YouTube viewers who take the opinions of their favorite YouTubers as verbatim. Hopefully these revelations will lead to YouTube personalities giving full disclosure if they produce advertorial content in the future.