It seems another gaming company has fallen victim to “pay for reviews”, a term that describes when a company, entity, or distributer dishes out financial compensation for positive reviews of their game. This information however was not disclosed to the public.
According to Gamefragger, the Federal Trade Commission lofted out a hefty fine to Warner Brothers for shortcomings in their disclosure that game reviews from multiple influential YouTube channels were actually promoted content paid for and ran through WB. The most influential, widest audience, and most powerful PewDiePie, led the way in streaming reviews disguised as “Let’s Play” segments. His channel has over 46 million subscribers. The fine specifically targets the fact that uploads did not disclose the fact they were being paid by WB in the description rather than that of a disclaimer in the actual video.
Consumers have the right to know if reviewers are providing their own opinions or paid sales pitches. Companies like Warner Brothers need to be straight with consumers in their online ad campaigns.
This quote comes from Jessica Rich the Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, her words should not be taken lightly either as this is most likley the tip of the iceberg when it comes to issues like this. This specific case is heavily gravitated around Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor and the reviews that came from prominent YouTubers.
Perhaps the most amusing fact is that Shadow of Mordor was a game in which critical acclaim was imminent. It was a very well made game that simply put, didn’t need the lack of disclosure for their reviews. WB did not need to promote the game in such a fashion as it went on to receive several awards, including Game of the Year in 2014.
At this point the exact dollar amount is hazy, but the open case claims that WB paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to top YouTubers on the notion that they didn’t disclose any faults such as bugs and gave positive and influencing reviews to their viewership.
The fact of the matter is that WB is promoting their games in a shady way and have been appropriately fined. Its only a matter of time before the next complaint delves itself out from the FTC. The entire community is wondering who is next.