Wednesday, January 22, 2014

By Jamaal Ryan

Predictable clarifications have come from EA today setting the record for their endorsement deals with YouTube personalities in what is known as their Ronku Program. Much like Machinima and Microsoft’s follow ups, EA issued a statement highlighting that they too required YouTubers’ disclosure of their participation of the program in spite of the NeoGAF post earlier this week:

“Through EA’s Ronku program, some fans are compensated for the YouTube videos they create and share about our games.  The program requires that participants comply with FTC guidelines and identify when content is sponsored.  User-generated videos are a valuable and unique aspect of how gamers share their experiences playing the games they love, and one that EA supports.

We explicitly state in the Terms & Conditions of the program that each video must comply with the FTC’s Guidelines concerning Use of Testimonials and Endorsements in Advertising.”

While I still think that publishers getting in bed with content creators whose opinions we seek is still gross and borderline unethical, after checking out an episode of Polygon’s Friend’s List, Brian Crecente’s “Shark Week” analogy gave me an idea, though not quite in relation to his reference. Skating in line with the FTC guidelines, YouTubers could be overtly upfront about promotion deals blitzing videos with “Coming up next week, let’s celebrate EA/Microsoft, brought to you and paid for by EA/Microsoft!” It still stinks of that stereotypical 80’s early 90’s greasy film director feel, but it gets the job done.  What separates this form of promotion from traditional advertising is that gaming coverage is so opinion driven that that anything that may disrupt that integrity can elicit an adverse reaction.

In other news, Josh Mattingly, the founder and CEO of Indie Statik who’s incident of sexual harassment on a female game developer went public, has stepped down. In a letter issued by the Indie Statik staff, the site wrote:

“Josh will be stepping down from his responsibilities at Indie Statik for the immediate future to focus on his mental health and recovery and work on truly understanding the gravity of his mistake.”

For the sake of the site and the sake of Josh’s recovery, this was an inevitable decision after his deeply offensive comments have gone public. We can only wish for the best in his treatment along with his full understanding of his actions.

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