A Machinima YouTube partnership with Microsoft has resulted in one of the most controversial forms of advertising we have ever seen. The gaming channel was allegedly paid extra to mention Xbox One in a positive light. It isn’t Machinima’s fault, though. Extra money to subliminally advertise the Xbox One seems like a good deal for anyone who hasn’t been personally burned or turned off by the console.
Microsoft allegedly approached several gaming channels and told them to be nice or neutral about their next gen console (as well as Machinima), and not to tell anyone about the deal. It seems someone breached the verbal contract when Machinima UK’s Twitter feed leaked it, only to be removed later on.
The Machinima YouTube partnership is only the latest in a series of low points in Microsoft’s alleged “under the table” dealings. The DRM crash of a Killer Instinct tournament in New York hadn’t even had time to fade from our minds when this news of secret advertising hit. Is there anything Microsoft can do to promote the Xbox One without making them look like the proverbial godfather?
The official word behind the scenes comes from a clause in the initial incentive:
“You may not say anything negative or disparaging about Machinima, Xbox One or any of its Games in your Campaign Video.”
Microsoft’s comment after the release of that information seemed to avoid answering the question of “under the table” advertising entirely:
“The Xbox team does not review any specific content or provide feedback on content.”
Apparently the way they decided to pull off these “under the table” deals was to tell the channels involved to label the video as a paid advertisement, using the tag “XB1M13.” A statement released to another gaming news site expanded on the Machinima YouTube partnership:
“Microsoft was not aware of individual contracts Machinima had with their content providers as part of this promotion and we didn’t provide feedback on any of the videos. We have asked Machinima to not post any additional Xbox One content as part of this media buy and we have asked them to add disclaimers to the videos that were part of this program indicating they were part of paid advertising.”
First they allegedly tell various YouTube channel owners not to tell anyone Microsoft is paying them, and then they turn around and have them label the videos as paid advertisements. This sounds a lot like what happened with the DRM controls and Microsoft’s vision of “the future.” Microsoft can’t seem to stop changing their minds.
After all of the smoke and mirrors have passed, what will Microsoft be left with? Is the Machinima YouTube partnership just another (as Pink Floyd would put it) “brick in the wall”?