This past week has been a headache for me on social media. The buzz has been on the outrage of Microsoft working with Machinima to offer CPM bonuses for favorable content on the Xbox One. I try to ignore it but it keeps coming back. Isn’t it time for the general community to find something else to be outraged about? Heck, Senran Kagura Burst is in the 3DS eShop and I swear it sets back any discussion of gender equality by years. No? We want to bellyache about CPM bonuses? Hold on to your butts then, because I am going to lay some truth on you. It’s not an uncommon practice.
Back when my primary focus was my website Gaming Irresponsibly and we were at our peak of popularity, we were looking to pick up some YouTubers. Often, I was asked if we offered any benefits like multi-channel networks. I didn’t understand what they meant initially. A few of these YouTubers explained that they’ve been offered CPM bonuses in the past from other companies, two of the big three were brought up often. This briefly intrigued me to look into getting into becoming a YouTuber but I lacked the time to make anything worthwhile.
YouTube Entertainers are just that though, Boogie and Angry Joe aren’t journalists, they just aren’t. If they were, your morning news’ talking heads would be considered reporters. They get paid to get your attention, subscriptions and views on their channel. Being under a MCN, they are given opportunities to earn a few extra bucks here and there. There are no acts of bribery or strong-arming opinions. This is how marketing works.
I’d be alarmed or even concerned if Microsoft, Sony or Nintendo were reaching out to journalists and offering cash for favorable coverage but the best we get are purchased ad space. Angry about that? Did you read magazines in the past? Did you know the same companies purchased ad space in those? Get over it. (Fun fact: we don’t use ads currently.)
There really hasn’t been an issue that I have seen where the general populous endorses a product that isn’t worth it. I like my Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Call of Duty: Ghosts and a majority of EA products. I earn nothing outside of my normal pay to say that and many other voices out there are also free to make similar claims as well. Even your favorite YouTuber with their CPM bonus contract.
“But Josh, why was there an NDA to keep the practice out of the eyes of the viewer?” Well, honestly, to prevent this type of outrage and backlash. Business sponsorship and advertising has infiltrated a lot of what we do these days. A few years back, when I was at the Polygon & The Verge launch party, the whole shebang was sponsored by Snapdragon. It was fun, I bet they paid for the open bar and made it possible for some of the games to be there. If you were under the umbrella of a larger company to produce content, it really isn’t the viewers business to know what incentives you were offered, as long as it isn’t a news outlet. If you think that the guy that brought this to the surface is “The Edward Snowden of gaming”, I’ll be honest with you, I have some choice words for you and your feelings may get hurt.
Video game community, this is my plea: Please, please, please stop getting worked up over such silly and trivial things.
I know a lot of you are really ticked off because the name Microsoft is attached to it, but really, I’m sure that they aren’t alone. They offered entertainers a bonus through their primary employer to talk about their products favorably. They didn’t threaten anyone’s job, force someone to say something they didn’t want to or violate the rights of any human being. The sky isn’t falling and nobody is in anyone’s pocket (well, that may not be entirely true).
We have an entire year of cool stuff coming out, did you know that Nintendo and Square Enix have an RPG coming out soon that just screams classic Final Fantasy? Be excited about that! Did you know that the company King is currently the biggest scumbag in the industry? Be mad at them. This? This too shall pass.
A while back I saw a video from YouTuber VideoGameDunkey where he spent some time talking about dealing with the rules and regulations of MCNs. It kind of a sad departure from his usual comedy but it really does open your eyes to what it is like in that side of the industry. Check it out.