Some YouTubers Might Be Breaking Federal Guidelines

The video game Dead Realm by Section Studios launched on Steam sometime ago and has been a major success. The multiplayer horror game even temporarily made Steam’s top sellers list. Dead Realm is especially popular among YouTubers because it was designed to be fun to watch.

“We developed this game to not only be fun to play, but also fun to watch.”

Since the game is enjoyable to watch, it naturally made its way onto YouTube. One YouTuber, Adam Montoya (aka SeaNanners), has published several videos featuring Dead Realm. One of his videos featuring the game received 1.2 million views.

A report by Gamasutra claims some YouTube personalities that have promoted Dead Realm are breaking federal guidelines on advertisements. Gamasutra asserts that YouTubers, namely Adam Montoya (SeaNanners) and Tom Cassell (Syndicate), are disregarding federal guidelines by not clearly stating their involvement with Dead Realm.

Dead Realm is published by 3BlackDot which describes itself as an influencer-driven startup. Montoya and Cassell are both founders of the company and are still involved in it. 3BlackDot described the YouTubers as “partners and co-creators at 3BD” in an email to Gamasutra.

The Federal Trade Commision has a set of guidelines advertisers need to follow.

“[I]f an ad features an endorser who’s a relative or employee of the marketer, the ad is misleading unless the connection is made clear. The same is usually true if the endorser has been paid or given something of value to tout the product. The reason is obvious: Knowing about the connection is important information for anyone evaluating the endorsement.”

The problem for Cassell and Montoya is that they have both failed to make it clear that they’re involved with 3BlackDot. Gamasutra contacted the FTC to ask about the guidelines and a representative said that disclosures need to be made upfront where viewers can easily see it.

“… disclosure should be clear and conspicuous, and should be upfront and easy to see where the viewer won’t miss it.”

An article at MSVcame to Montoya and Cassell’s defence.

“In the pair’s defence, they have both in previous, unrelated videos in which their relationship with 3BD is discussed. Fellow 3BD partner and YouTuber Evan ‘VanossGaming’ Fong in the foot notes of one of his Dead Realm videos refers to the game’s production team as ‘we’.”

While to two YouTubers may have made at least some effort to disclose their connection with 3BlackDot, it would appear as though their attempts were not good enough for the FTC.

[Photo by VanossGaming/YouTube]