A quick Google search for “PewDiePie” will yield a slew of editorials with some variation of the headline, “Warner Bros. Pays Off PewDiePie And Other YouTubers For Positive Game Reviews.”
A quick Twitter search for “PewDiePie” will present a plethora of mentions, tweets, and articles that either slam him with scathing ferocity, defend him with earnest valor, or sit somewhere in the middle, indifferent. (Who are we kidding, this is Twitter; people very rarely sit in the “middle” on Twitter.)
A quick YouTube search for “PewDiePie” will pull up copious videos of PewDiePie’s (of course), as well as videos openly discussing the public’s collective loathing of him.
Well, it seems PewDiePie is under fire again. This time for “being paid off by Warner Bros. for positive game reviews.”
Unless you’ve lived under a rock for the last couple of days, you already know that PewDiePie’s name has been panned in solidarity by the media. Polygon, Verge, Ars Technica, Mashable, and many others have criticized not only the company in question (Warner Bros., publisher of the critically acclaimed Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor), but they called out PewDiePie and a bevy other YouTubers as well.
According to reports, Warner Bros. paid these YouTubers to highlight and promote Shadow of Mordor. They were not allowed to critique the game. They were not allowed to show bugs or glitches. (If they encountered any during a recording, I imagine they were to scrap that video and start over.) They were not allowed to talk negatively about the game in any capacity. Since the video was sponsored, they were only allowed to say good things and good things only. (Again, according to reports.)
— The Gaming Ground (@TheGamingGround) July 13, 2016
As you can imagine, this overwhelming negativity can grate on someone after a while. Some people choose to ignore it, go on with their everyday lives, and continue as if this amount of negative publicity doesn’t exist. However, doing so only makes that person’s brand less credible. If the individual isn’t willing to respond to such an immediate issue, then what does that mean for their character, their impetus, and their fortitude? Other people choose to confront it and hope to resolve the issue at hand. PewDiePie, real name Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, did the latter. In a video he recently published on YouTube, PewDiePie boldly claims, “I don’t think I did anything wrong.”
In the five-minute video, titled “THE PEWDIEPIE ‘SCANDAL’!!,” Pewds has some choice words for those quick to run stories on him. He first starts with, “Huge thanks for the shout out,” a smirk filling the space on his chin. From there, he sarcastically remarks that “If you ever meet me in person, please refer to me as the ‘wildly popular PewDiePie.'” Immediately tossing the quips aside, he gets down to business. Pewds outlines what happened briefly, then he offers his response in the bluntest, deadpanned way.
“Now that’s f*cked up. I’m just disappointed.”
He then starts reading and commenting on some of the tweets regarding this scandal before breaking down the sponsorship. PewDiePie admits to being paid by Warner Bros. even before this response video. The video in question, titled “Shadow of Mordor – Gameplay – Part 1 (Gamescom Demo) ULTIMATE ORC SLAYING!,” published in September 2014, explicitly has the line, “This video was sponsored by Warner Brother” in the video’s description. Sure, you have to click the “show more” icon to get to it, but it is there. This blatant sponsorship is neglected in many of the stories run about this “scandal.” Yes, PewDiePie did not disclose the video well enough, but he certainly disclosed it. Interestingly, according to him, “we weren’t required to disclose, [but] I still did it.” Talk about integrity.
— Candis-ace-ice ♥ (@CandiceLikesYou) July 13, 2016
Along with PewDiePie’s response, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released a statement about the scandal. In it, they claim that “Under a proposed FTC order announced today, Warner Bros. is barred from failing to make such disclosures in the future and cannot misrepresent that sponsored content, including gameplay videos, are the objective, independent opinions of video game enthusiasts or influencers.”
You can read the statement in its entirety here, as well as watch PewDiePie’s response video below
[Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images]