[Update: The FTC may be investigating]
Another twist in the story has been unveiled, as Microsoft has quickly retracted their stance on the XB1M13 campaign and they are now claiming that they had no involvement or knowledge of the partnered contract that Machinima had concocted for the Xbox One YouTube promotion.
According to iGame Responsibly and IGN, Microsoft has issued an updated response about the campaign following the admission by Machinima's higher-ups that the XB1M13 promotion was, indeed, unethical, with a representative acknowledging to Ohh Word...
“We execute large network wide activations routinely and, where part of a promotional campaign, typically require channel partners to include certain language in their video content relating to the promotion. That didn’t happen here and we’re evaluating why. All participants are being asked today to include our standard language going-forward. We apologize for the error and any confusion.”
TotalBiscuit, real name John Bain, also acknowledged in a recent video that Polaris has also sent out letters after the XB1M13 fiasco went mainstream, letting their partners and affiliates know that they must acknowledge paid-for endorsements or additional compensation for products featured in the content creators' videos.
Following these startling admissions of regulatory ethics, a Microsoft spokesperson has claimed that they were not aware of the contracts for the Xbox One promotional material, and that they have asked Machinima not to post any more Xbox One promo videos in conjunction with the campaign, stating...
“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.”
Well, that's one lawsuit adverted... right?
It seems a little odd that a company would approve of a specific campaign that was estimated to reach a bare minimum of 1.25 million views and not have any knowledge or oversight of the conditions in which their product would be promoted and marketed. They had a maximum estimated reach of 11.7 million viewers... they didn't give the contracts one look over? 11.7 million potential viewers? Really?
Nevertheless, the code of ethics here was tossed clean out of the window, especially in the case of Electronic Arts and Battlefield 4, which has actually misled a lot of people about the state of the game prior to and just after its release, in which case video content providers were explicitly prohibited from discussing or showcasing any of the game's glitches. Glitches, I might add, that caused DICE to delay DLC content for Battlefield 4, which has actually resulted in multiple antitrust lawsuits levied against Electronic Arts.
On the upside, this entire blowout has helped put into place a far more ethical playing field of content promotion and endorsement.
If you're curious who participated in the XB1M13 campaign – which had an estimated reach of nearly 12 million users – be sure to check out the complete list of YouTuber channels right here.
As has been the tradition with this unflattering situation, here's a video from a YouTuber going by the appellation AttackSlug, which sums up the unflattery up until this point.