Here’s the statement from a Microsoft spokesman: “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.”
Original post: Microsoft today responded to a report that it paid gamers to promote Xbox One in their YouTube videos — calling the campaign through the Machinima affiliate program a “typical marketing partnership” and saying that the Xbox team doesn’t review or provide feedback on the content.
The company also says that a confidentiality clause in the promotional contract wasn’t intended to require gamers to keep secret the fact that they were paid to promote the Xbox One in their videos.
The response came a day after Ars Technica reported on a “stealth marketing” agreement in which Machinima video partners were paid an extra $3 per thousand video views if they included at least 30 seconds of Xbox One game footage, mentioned the Xbox One by name and used the tag “XB1M13″ on the video.
The promotional contract, as posted online, said the gamers “may not say anything negative or disparaging about Machinima, Xbox One or any of its Games in your Campaign Video.”
The companies issued this joint statement today in response to the piece: “This partnership between MSFT and Machinima is a typical marketing partnership to promote Xbox One in December. The Xbox team does not review any specific content or provide feedback on content. Any confidentiality provisions, terms or other guidelines are standard documents provided by Machinima. For clarity, confidentiality relates to the agreements themselves, not the existence of the promotion.”
Whether or not it withstands legal scrutiny, the distinction about the confidentiality clause is important because FTC guidelines call for content producers to disclose financial relationships in reviews and other pieces that otherwise don’t appear to be paid plugs.