Before we get in to this, here’s our disclosure: Machinima is Inside Gaming’s parent company. Inside Gaming reports on all gaming news stories, regardless of connection or content.
Now then, here’s our stance on the recent stories circulating around Machinima’s promotion deal with the Xbox One. First, the facts.
On January 18, NeoGAF user UnluckyKate posted a thread describing rumors that Machinima was running an Xbox One promotion campaign in which they would pay a bonus $3 CPM (cost per mille) to video producers. The videos in question had to hit a certain number of requirements: they had to include at least 30 seconds of Xbox One gameplay, the producer had to verbally mention that they were playing on Xbox One, and the video had to include the “XB1M13″ tag.
The real problem hit later, when a copy of Machinima’s legal agreement appeared on pastebin. The agreement stated that partners were not allowed to say “anything negative or disparaging about Machinima, Xbox One, or any of its games” as well as keep the details of their agreement with Machinima confidential. This wording caused confusion — partners should have been told to make it clear that their content was explicitly promoting the Xbox One while keeping the details of the agreement confidential. I’ve been told that a team at Machinima is investigating why that didn’t happen with this particular contract.
As the news started to circulate, Microsoft and Machinima issued the following statement:
This partnership between Machinima and Microsoft was a typical marketing partnership to promote Xbox One in December. The Xbox team does not review any specific content or provide feedback on content.
Machinima has since taken full responsibility for the error and will ask all participants to include standard sponsorship language going forward.
Just to be clear, what follows on is not the statement of Machinima the company, but from Inside Gaming the news outlet.
We’d like to provide our perspective on this issue. First off, this sort of deal happens all the time. It’s simple product placement, and it happens all the time in TV, movies, music, or any other form of media. In fact, just today NeoGAF found another such promotion in which EA directly sponsored YouTubers to make content around games like Battlefield 4, Plants vs. Zombies 2, and sports titles like Madden and NHL. The terms of that agreement are very similar — when it comes to videos about Battlefield 4, they were to show the game’s “leveloution” mechanic as well as avoiding showing the game’s glitches.
To be clear, we’re not trying to distract anyone from the issue or point fingers at anyone else, just drive home the point that sponsored content is extremely common. Someone has to pay for that content, and if it’s not the viewer, it’s going to be an advertiser.
How Does This Affect Inside Gaming?
It doesn’t, due to Inside Gaming’s relationship with Machinima. We all work directly for Machinima as opposed to being channel partners with Machinima. We don’t get paid on a per-view basis, even though it’s our job to make content that people watch. We do not participate in any partnership programs such as the one described in this article. As a result, we operate as an editorial outlet as opposed to an entertainment outlet.
Yes, Inside Gaming is occasionally sponsored, but those sponsor cards are always played before the show and divided from the content itself. We understand that we have a professional obligation to report stories accurately first and entertain second. We always want to be straight and honest with you guys, because we know if we’re not, you’ll just find someone else that is.
We want you to keep watching us. Hell, we even like some of you. Just some though, don’t get too excited.