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Game developer gets in trouble for paying PewDiePie and others for positive reviews

The sponsored videos generated over 5.5 million views on YouTube, but did little to tell viewers they were paid for.

PewDiePie, real name Felix Kjellberg, is one of the most subscribed YouTuber in the world.
PewDiePie, real name Felix Kjellberg, is one of the most subscribed YouTuber in the world.
Image: Hannah McKay/PA Wire

IF A GAME gets a great review on YouTube, you should check to see whether it’s a real review or one paid for by the developers.

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said it settled a charge with Warner Bros after it paid popular YouTubers such as PewDiePie to make positive reviews on YouTube and other channels.

Over the course of the campaign, the sponsored videos promoting the 2014 game Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, an open-world action adventure set in the same universe as The Lord of the Rings, were viewed more than 5.5 million times. PewDiePie’s video made up more than 3.7 million of those views.

It said that Warner Bros had “paid each influencer hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars” to promote the game, and not to highlight any bugs or glitches they discovered.

YouTubers were instructed to place disclosures in the discription box below the video, but because it requested other information to be placed in that box, it meant the actual disclosure only appeared if the viewed clicked on the ‘Show More’ box.

As part of the settlement, Warner Bros is barred from not disclosing such deals in the future, and can’t claim that paid videos are the independent opinions of YouTubers.

It is also required to educate each YouTuber or influencers regarding sponsorship disclosures for future campaigns.

Lack of disclosure is one of the problems facing YouTubers, and some have been criticised for not properly disclosing payment or self-interest.

Recently, two prominent YouTubers came under fire for plugging a gaming gambling site on their channel without telling viewers that they owned it.

Read: Pokémon Go makers say they’re updating iOS app to address security concerns >

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About the author:

Quinton O'Reilly

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