Requiring YouTubers To Give Positive Reviews For Access To Games Can't Work As A Long Term Strategy
from the outta-the-bag dept
We’ve written before about the recent trend among video game publishers in trading access for YouTube personalities to their games and positive coverage. Nintendo had been the most notable example of this to date, but they certainly aren’t alone. This most recent example concerns Warner Bros.’ Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and the deals the publisher struck with YouTubers, which are far more restrictive than those we’ve seen previously.
“Videos will promote positive sentiment about the game. Videos must not show bugs or glitches that may exist. Maximize awareness for the Shadow of Mordor video game during the ‘Week of Vengeance’ through gameplay content, key brand messaging, and information and talent usage on Twitch channels. Persuade viewers to purchase game, catch the attention of casual and core gamers who already know and love Middle-earth. Requirements involve one livestream, one YouTube video, and one Facebook post/tweet in support of the videos. Videos will have a strong verbal call to action, a clickable link in the description box for the viewer to go to the game’s website to learn more about the game [and] to learn how to register and play the game. Twitch stream videos will have five calls to action. Videos will be of sufficient length to feature gameplay and build excitement.”
“Videos must include discussion of the Nemesis System. This really should take up the bulk of the focus, such as how different the orcs are, how vivid their personality and dialogue are, gathering intel and domination abilities, exploiting their strengths and weaknesses. Videos must include discussion of the action and combat that takes place within the game, such as brutal finishers, execution moves, and wraith powers. The company has final approval on the YouTube video… at least 48 hours before any video goes live.”
Now, look, there’s been a great deal of discussion as of late about the evils of the current gaming journalism scene, yet here’s the shining example of corruption and nobody’s up in arms. I can’t quite figure that out. What these publishers are doing is creating a sub-section of the YouTuber ecosystem that will be first to market with reviews of gaming products but also in chorus with one another in heaping praise as a contractual obligation. Delightful. The Kotaku article says that this is an uncomfortable, systemic, and long-term problem. It isn’t, and here’s why: it can only work for a tiny period of time.
And that period of time is coming to an end. Now that these deals are coming into the light with more regular frequency, they are only serving to condition the public to one thing: not trusting positive reviews of games. It’s the inevitable result of this sort of thing. If the gaming public knows that you have these deals, they’ll almost certainly decide not to trust positive YouTuber reviews of games. The negative reviews, on the other hand, certainly will be trustworthy. So, in the end, gamers will only have negative reviews to base decisions on when it comes to the games they buy. That ain’t no way to run an industry.
It’s time the major publishers wised up to this sort of thing. Any short-term benefit is going to be far outweighed by the long-term distrust they’re sowing.