Stealth marketing: MS paying YouTubers for Xbox One mentions

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AMyggen

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#1  Edited By AMyggen

http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2014/01/stealth-marketing-microsoft-paying-youtubers-for-xbox-one-mentions/

We all knew this was happening, and would be happening more and more as Youtubers got more popular (the Bombcast with Jeff Green and Brad Muir had a long, interesting discussion bout this). But what struck me about this promotion was that the people doing the promotion can't say that they're being paid to promote the Xbone. That's straight up not legal, and it seems like we're crossing a line here.

PS: I'm not able to make links "clickable" when posting from my shitty tablet. And I posted this in General Discussion because I think it's a larger discussion than just MS/Xbone, feel free to move it.

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Onomatopoeia

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#2  Edited By Onomatopoeia

Sony is probably doing the same thing, Nintendo isn't though because they're not promoting the Wii U at all.

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EXTomar

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#3  Edited By EXTomar

Oh lots of company do the same thing and many frown upon it because it is at best astroturfing and at worse breach of ethics.

To be clear, it is fine to do "paid advertising" but they need to be clear about it. It is no longer the case of someone at that network saying "Here is my unsolicited opinion about why the XBox One rocks" when it turns out they were solicited.

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l4wd0g

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I feel like the real headline is arstechnica finally scraping the bottom.

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sammo21

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#5  Edited By sammo21

Doesn't seem weird but some of the fine print feels a little lame. You can't mention Machima, Microsoft, the Xbone, or any of its game in a negative light...so basically they are going to pay you for only talking good stuff about the games and system. With how little I like a majority of the game's coverage of Youtube this just makes me suspect negativity even more.

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AMyggen

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@l4wd0g: How come? The story is news worthy because the Youtubers can't mark it as promotional when they do promote the Xbone, and that's most likely not legal.

I have no problem with a deal like this as long as they mark it as promotional material.

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shinjin977

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I am no lawyer but some of the fine print sound straight up illegal. Do you not have to disclose your sponsor if you are being paid to advertise something? I am fairly sure it is in the FTC somewhere.

Here it is: http://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2013/03/ftc-staff-revises-online-advertising-disclosure-guidelines

So it is illegal, unless there are some loop hole some where.

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AMyggen

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#8  Edited By AMyggen

@extomar: Exactly. And the worry with Youtubers getting the kind of "power" that comes with the viewership some of those guys have, is that some of those guys won't care about that kind of ethics.

Also, it's pretty shocking that a huge network like Machinima would sign such a deal.

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hippie_genocide

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And this is surprising....how?

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AMyggen

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#10  Edited By AMyggen

@hippie_genocide: Not very surprising that companies MS do this kind of marketing, which I have no problems with, but it's still pretty shocking how blatantly everyone inolved are breaking the law. From the guidelines posted by shinjin977:

"Example 7: A college student who has earned a reputation as a video game expert maintains a personal weblog or “blog” where he posts entries about his gaming experiences. Readers of his blog frequently seek his opinions about video game hardware and software. As it has done in the past, the manufacturer of a newly released video game system sends the student a free copy of the system and asks him to write about it on his blog. He tests the new gaming system and writes a favorable review. Because his review is disseminated via a form of consumer-generated media in which his relationship to the advertiser is not inherently obvious, readers are unlikely to know that he has received the video game system free of charge in exchange for his review of the product, and given the value of the video game system, this fact likely would materially affect the credibility they attach to his endorsement. Accordingly, the blogger should clearly and conspicuously disclose that he received the gaming system free of charge. The manufacturer should advise him at the time it provides the gaming system that this connection should be disclosed, and it should have procedures in place to try to monitor his postings for compliance."

Seems pretty clear. No one comes to Machinima's channel and expect objective journalism, but some ethics would be preferred.

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sammo21

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Honestly, I bet most of the YouTubers don't know they are breaking the law but I might be giving them too much credit. Microsoft however probably knows. Hell, there is a reason that one tweet was deleted so quickly.

Does FCC cover stuff on YouTube/The Internet? I'm kind of ignorant there.

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AMyggen

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#12  Edited By AMyggen

@sammo21: Yeah, FCC covers Youtube/The internet. From the guidelines posted above:

"Like the original, the updated guidance emphasizes that consumer protection laws apply equally to marketers across all mediums, whether delivered on a desktop computer, a mobile device, or more traditional media such as television, radio, or print."

And most Youtubers might be ignorant of FCC rules, but I can't believe that Machinima is (and if they are, what the fuck are you doing running a huge Youtube network?).

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Justin258

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I'd have to find a way to make fun of this if MS offered to pay me to say Xbox in my (hypothetical) Youtube videos. I'd probably go over the top and just say the word "Xbox" as many times as possible in one video.

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Video_Game_King

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I'd probably go over the top and just say the word "Xbox" as many times as possible in one video.

You'd have to do each one with a different intonation. "Xbox. Xbox? Xbox. Xbox. XBOX!? XBOX! X......box."

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crithon

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microsoft has an odd ad agency. Like this and on top of that the ammount they spend on Windows ads and that generally doesn't do well for them either..... sure why not? This will probably blow up in their faces again.

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LucidDreams117

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Oh my God. Really Giant Bomb? I just read this on Kotaku. They're a crappy site with some terrible and idiotic comments. I really thought I wouldn't find this thing here.

Alright fine. Let's look at this.

-YouTube is basically all about advertisements

-A company wants to pay someone for doing a commercial for their product?? Oh serenity now!! Let's just burn them at the stake now.

Let's think about commercials. You never see an actor or anyone during one of those when advertising a product say hey, I'm being paid to tell you about this.

No. They smile, promote the product in a positive manor and get paid. Simple. Good lord, internet. You guys really want any reason to shit on Microsoft this past year. Everyone does advertising!! No one is making these people do this. It's your choice. YouTube and advertising. Don't waste your energy trying to wrestle with the ethics about this.

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SomeJerk

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#17  Edited By SomeJerk

Wow didn't take long for the MS shills to come

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AMyggen

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#18  Edited By AMyggen

@luciddreams117: The problem isn't MS paying someone to do a commercial for their product. That's fine, even if it's part of a "normal video", as long as they make clear that it's in fact a paid promotion.

And actors in commercials don't have to say they're being paid to do it, because that's implied. You're not doing a commecial for charity, and by actually being a commercial it's clear that it is, in fact, a commercial. That's not a good comparison at all.

This is more than likely breaking FCC regulation, not just "ethics". And you might say that "Youtube is basically all about advertisements", which isn't true but okay, but that doesn't make this okay. Youtube is huge for gaming coverage, and companies can't just bypass these sorts of laws just because it's on Youtube. That's not how this works.

PS: Just because Kotaku posts something, doesn't make it a non-story. They just more or less reposted the original link.

edit: And no, this isn't just a way to shit on MS. This isn't normal marketing and is probably against the law, and a kind of practice many have feared will be more and more common on Youtube. So it's very news worthy,

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Hyuzen

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I guess I almost feel sorry for some Machinima Youtubers now. If someone doesn't sign up for this but does a video with an Xbox One game and speaks favourably on it, I'm sure lots of people will flock to it saying they were paid by Microsoft.

@luciddreams117: I think this differs from an ad, because an ad is meant to sell you on a product/service and comes with the understanding that someone is getting some sort of benefit out of doing the commercial. This would be the case of a person just trying to play the game or show a game that they like. If they didn't specifically disclose that they're getting paid and they aren't allowed to say negative things people are well within their right to call that unethical.

If microsoft just let people disclose this fact and say whatever they want this wouldn't even be an issue.

Anyway, Microsoft is giving away only like $4000 from this program, this thing will be over in less than a week.

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spraynardtatum

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#20  Edited By spraynardtatum

I'm amazed that people look at this and say, because this isn't surprising, we shouldn't care.

I want "Internet 2" so I can move on to something real if this is how marketers and advertisers are going to handle things.

Remember in Red Dead Redemption when Nigel West Dickens asks John Marston to pretend like he's a regular citizen and act like his healing salve cured him of his disease? This is basically that. This is the 21st centuries version of snake oil salesmen creating false narratives. That's dangerous business, especially when you consider the size of the corporations ALLOWING this to happen.

Everyone involved should be ashamed.

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shinjin977

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I'm amazed that people look at this and say, because this isn't surprising, we shouldn't care.

I want "Internet 2" so I can move on to something real if this is how marketers and advertisers are going to handle things. Stealth marketing, if it goes unchecked, could ruin the internet.

Remember in Red Dead Redemption when Nigel West Dickens asks John Marston to pretend like he's a regular citizen and act like his healing salve cured him of his disease? This is basically that. This is the 21st centuries version of snake oil salesmen creating false narratives. That's dangerous business, especially when you consider the size of the corporations ALLOWING this to happen.

Everyone involved should be ashamed.

Never played red dead but that particular scenario seems interesting. Also, agree with everything here and I fully expect this type of shit to get call out every times a company tried to pull this shit. Some people say "Oh, Sony/Nintendo does it too! So what?", so i expect shit like this to come to light so the public can be informed. I gave "game journalist" a lot of shit over the last year but if they keep delivering on scoops that needs to be known like this? Then they deserves to call themselves "journalist" and not critics.

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AMyggen

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#22  Edited By AMyggen

@hyuzen: Yup, it isn't much money, but it's more the principle in my eyes. This sort of shady shit shouldn't become the norm on Youtube. That a big company like MS is okay with this sort of stuff is kinda scary, and won't do anything to improve the reputation of Let's Players.

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Wolfgame

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I doubt this will damage the channels in question, the bigger names get elevated to such a point of hero worship that most of their viewers probably won't even recognize that they are basically watching infomercials.

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AMyggen

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@wolfgame: Yeah, the general viewer have no idea which Youtube personality is part of which network either.

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LucidDreams117

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Hmmm. See, I didn't know about the illegal thing. I just thought this was once again everyone jumping on the "let's hate x bone!!"

I'm not very knowledgeable when it comes to law. I only jumped when everyone tried to connect YouTube and journalism and ethics.

I do agree, though if it really is about the internet reacting to the principle of the matter.

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spraynardtatum

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Hmmm. See, I didn't know about the illegal thing. I just thought this was once again everyone jumping on the "let's hate x bone!!"

I'm not very knowledgeable when it comes to law. I only jumped when everyone tried to connect YouTube and journalism and ethics.

I do agree, though if it really is about the internet reacting to the principle of the matter.

Why would you jump on that? That sounds like something good.

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AMyggen

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#27  Edited By AMyggen

@luciddreams117: Well, with regards to rules about marketing, many of the same rules apply to Youtubers/bloggers and what you would call journalists in a more traditional sense. I don't know about America, but here in Norway the exact same rules apply in terms of what you have to disclose, and it seems like it's the same in the States. The difference is that journalists often have more unwritten ethical norms that they follow on top of the minimum that's in the law.

So at least when it comes to marketing, there's a very thin line between journalists and even Let's Playsers: Both have to make clear when they're being paid, and when it's their actual opinion. And that's of course how it should be. Like it or not, PewDiePie probably has more influence on what people buy than any traditional media outlet, so he should be bound by the same rules as those outlets.

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Grimluck343

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@sammo21 said:

Doesn't seem weird but some of the fine print feels a little lame. You can't mention Machima, Microsoft, the Xbone, or any of its game in a negative light...so basically they are going to pay you for only talking good stuff about the games and system. With how little I like a majority of the game's coverage of Youtube this just makes me suspect negativity even more.

...Why would they pay you to talk shit about their product?

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AMyggen

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@grimluck343: Yeah, the problem isn't them paying people to talk up their system, but the fact that they're not allowed to disclose that that's what they're doing. Of course, you could question Someone's integrity if he or she takes money to talk up a product regardless of if they disclose the payment or not, but if they do it's at least legal.

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Andorski

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#30  Edited By Andorski

Didn't McDonalds for a period of time paid singers to mention their brand in songs? I remember seeing a list of artists who were a part of it. For some reason though I only remember Ludacris being one of them.

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Darji

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#31  Edited By Darji
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AMyggen

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@andorski: There's nothing Luda won't sell out for.

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Scampbell

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Searching for XB1M13, which is the tag content providers are obligated to use if they are to make use of this deal, brought up a fairly long list though it seems all the content providers on this list are all farily minor. No Pewdiepie or Totalbiscuit or whoever else people enjoy to hate these days shows op on this list. I'm sure the marketing works out technically for MS, though now that the news are out it seems more like MS has successfully shot themselves in their foot yet again.

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AMyggen

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@scampbell: TB is on the Polaris network, while I don't think PewDiePie is on Machinima either. The ceiling for how much money MS would sponsor is so small that it makes sense that it's mostly smaller YTers taking advantage.

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monkeyking1969

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No Caption Provided

Let's be clear with what we are dealing with here.

These are people who already own an Xbox One, already have a following enough to be "Machinima video partner", and are willing to say nice things just in case they might get an extra $3 for 1000 views, right?

Okay great...so what? Yes, it sort of sleezy they MS has to pay for it, sort of pathetic in a way a middle-aged john picking up a strung out hooker has to pay for it. But, in the end you get what you pay for...something of the venereal nature.


Above is the face of Xbox's. Happy fan, sad fan, or just typical fan depends on the day...who cares. I honestly think anyone who thinks this is bad, should just look at it clearly. This campign wasn't working very well, and it blew up in their face because the people at Machinima are not used to high-end/hush-hush publicity campaigns, so the harm is on MS.

But, let us say you REALLY think the direction MS is going is harmful for the industry and that every Xbox One sold is bad news for the whole industry. Okay, well, guess what if they are that bad the people FOOLED into buying them, if you really think they are being fooled, will be unhappy, right? Unhappy customers are self correcting...problem solved. If you think MS is getting good publicity for free and should be punished...well I think they are since we are talking about this now.

See, it all comes out in the wash.

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Darji

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@amyggen said:

@scampbell: TB is on the Polaris network, while I don't think PewDiePie is on Machinima either. The ceiling for how much money MS would sponsor is so small that it makes sense that it's mostly smaller YTers taking advantage.

Also these people need to be careful of their image they have and if TB would do something like that and people find out about it then he would lose a ton of viewers.

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Immortal_Guy

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This is a slightly different thing, but I remember reading a while ago that Sony used a campaign to promote the PSP which claimed to be a blog by a real teenager, but was actually a complete fabrication by a marketing company. It was called "all I want for xmas is a PSP", or something to that effect. I don't think they got into any legal trouble with it, but they certainly got all apologetic once the truth came out.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that super-dubious online marketing has been around for a while, and probably will be for a while to come. Not that that makes any of this any better...

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AMyggen

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#38  Edited By AMyggen

@monkeyking1969: What are you talking about?

edit: Okay, understood it more or less now, and agree.

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xyzygy

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And yet again Microsoft gets the shitty end of the stick for doing what others have already been doing.

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AMyggen

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@darji: Well, TB is already doing a lot of paid work for various games companies (helping them figure out what makes a game popular and similar things, I believe?), and he's been doing other similar stuff for various companies. But at least he's pretty open about it, so that's something.

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Darji

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@amyggen said:

@darji: Well, TB is already doing a lot of paid work for various games companies (helping them figure out what makes a game popular and similar things, I believe?), and he's been doing other similar stuff for various companies. But at least he's pretty open about it, so that's something.

Yeah but that is different than saying the "XBox One is great.go buy it." People watch TB because he has an own and mostly harsh opinion on things and these will not change. That is why I like his WTF or recently research videos he does.

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spraynardtatum

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@xyzygy said:

And yet again Microsoft gets the shitty end of the stick for doing what others have already been doing.

FUCK THAT ARGUMENT! Who cares!? Microsoft does it! It doesn't matter if Sally threw the first stone because it doesn't make Microsoft any less guilty.

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spraynardtatum

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#43  Edited By spraynardtatum

I hope they release the names of the Machinima users that are on the take. I'd like to forever avoid their tainted names.

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CatsAkimbo

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How is this different than product placement in TV shows, like where everyone piles in a Nissan Versa and talks about how fantastically fast and roomy it is? They only rarely acknowledge it's product placement.

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AMyggen

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@catsakimbo: Well, if they do that without saying it's paid content that's probably as illegal as this. Just straight up product placement, like putting a Coke on the desk of a talk show host without him actually endorsing the product in other ways? Don't really know.

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AMyggen

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#46  Edited By AMyggen

@darji: I'm not saying it's the same thing, but there's still a bit strange for a guy who prides himself of doing no-nonsense coverage to do such work on the side. But he has said as much in a video he did, so fair play I guess.

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EXTomar

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#47  Edited By EXTomar

@xyzygy said:

And yet again Microsoft gets the shitty end of the stick for doing what others have already been doing.

It is sad you bother writing this. Beyond that maybe Microsoft get the crappy end of the stick because of their attitude. The competition is just clueless while Microsoft goes for efficiency by providing marketing materials. Given the nature of modern online culture that is either super clueless or takes big balls to do.

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shinjin977

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@xyzygy said:

And yet again Microsoft gets the shitty end of the stick for doing what others have already been doing.

I am sorry but this shit needs to stop. Damn Mr.M got the short end of the stick for killing his wife, even though Mr.S also did it (and was also caught). That is a terrible argument.

If Sony, Apple, Nintendo, Microsoft or whatever are doing shady dealings with the "neutral" press, we needs to know about it and here we have people going "Oh who gives a fuck everyone does it.". Well you should give a fuck, it is you, your friends and family that is the direct audience for these advertisement. Imagine if a political campaign ad goes on TV, defaming the opposition and it doesn't tell you that it was sponsored by the other party? You see how this is harmful? Sony did similar shit in 2006 and was also caught and it played a part in taking the wind right out of ps2's momentum.

Also you know, not disclosing that you are being paid to advertise something and pretending to be totally "one of you gamers" is illegal as shit. You can look up the fine print for this thing and read the FTC cause I linked above. This is not some corporate fan war shit, this is a company doing shady shit and people going "meh, bribery is normal". Also, apologies if this seems harsher than intended, just trying to tell you why it blew up.

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