EA accused of secretly paying YouTubers for coverage

ea accused paying youtubers highlight games without telling public logo

Following accusations that Microsoft paid YouTube commenters to give the Xbox One favorable coverage, a similar accusation has been hurled at Electronic Arts, according to a post on NeoGAF outlining the plan (via IGN). In itself, a company paying someone to talk about their products isn’t an issue, but both Microsoft and EA have been accused of having the people paid sign non-disclosure agreements barring them from revealing their arrangements with the companies in question, which may be a violation of FTC guidelines.

According to the EA “assignment” posted on NeoGAF, from December 10, 2013 through January18, 2014, the publisher was willing to put up money for certain types of coverage of its next-gen and PC games, including: Need for Speed: Rivals, Battlefield 4, FIFA 14, NHL 14, Plants Vs. Zombies 2, and Madden 25. EA offered $10 per CPM (Cost Per Mille), or $10 for every 1,000 views of the YouTuber’s total views. Different games have different “view caps,” but they are extremely high in most cases – Need For Speed Rivals had a view limit of 6 million, while Battlefield 4, for instance, has a view cap of 20 million. At $10 per thousand views, that could add up to some serious money. By comparison, Microsoft was only offering $3 CPM, with a view limit of 1.25 million.

In order to qualify for the payout, EA issued some very specific guidelines. These changed per game, but most shared a few common requirements, including not focusing on major glitches. EA does allow for those streaming to mention things it would like to see improved in games like BF4, however, as long as the person commenting stays “on assignment.”

On the face of it, there is nothing inherently wrong with this. EA is asking YouTubers that stream video to focus on certain aspects of their games, such as “Get to a heat level of 8 with 100,000 Speedpoints, put these on the line as cops swarm you” in Need for Speed Rivals, and focusing on BF4’s “levolution” (where you trigger an event that alters a multiplayer map, like bringing down a skyscraper). EA is asking those gamers to produce videos that make their games look exciting while highlighting certain aspects of it.

Where it becomes questionable is the non-disclosure agreement the publisher is reportedly asking gamers to sign, which prohibits them from telling anyone that EA is paying them.

It’s important to note that this is still unconfirmed. If it is true though, that may put EA in the crosshairs of the Federal Trade Commission, along with Microsoft. In Microsoft’s case, the accusation is a bit more damning since it was allegedly asking people to talk up the Xbox One without saying anything negative about it. That is tantamount to a paid endorsement not properly identifying itself as such, which is a violation of FTC guidelines. With EA, if true, the commenters were allowed to criticize the game, which legally may not be seen as an endorsement. 

Assuming this accusation is true, it will likely have to be settled by lawyers as they defend the non-disclosure agreement while arguing that it paying for videos is not the same as asking people to endorse them. 


Apple loses battle to use Intel modems in Germany in latest clash with Qualcomm

Apple is following the Federal Trade Commission's lead and has sued Qualcomm for a massive $1 billion in the U.S., $145 million in China, and also in the U.K., claiming the company charged onerous royalties for its patented tech.
Home Theater

Here’s why you’re not getting Netflix in HD or 4K, and how to fix it

Are you having trouble watching your favorite movies or TV shows on Netflix in HD or 4K? We explain why loading takes so long, why the picture quality fluctuates, and what you can do about it.

Your PlayStation 4 game library isn't complete without these games

Looking for the best PS4 games out there? Out of the massive crop of titles available, we selected the best you should buy. No matter what your genre of choice may be, there's something here for you.

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.

District 9 director made a live-action trailer for Anthem, and it’s pretty cool

District 9 director Neill Blomkamp made a live-action short for Anthem. It's more like a long movie trailer than a short film, but it does offer a couple clues about Anthem's lore and features some dazzling special effects.

Take to the virtual skies with these free flight simulators

You don't have to spend the entirety of your paycheck to become a virtual ace, at least when it comes to flight simulation. Our list of the best free flight simulators will let you unleash your inner Maverick.

I'm canceling my backlog for Apex Legends. Be back never

Live service games like Fortnite and Apex Legends are eating up everyone's time, leaving other games out in the cold. While my backlog continues to grow, it seems the gaming industry is struggling to keep up as well.

Here's how you can play your favorite PC games with a Nintendo Switch controller

Nintendo's Switch controllers, including the Joy-Cons and the aptly titled Pro Controller, use Bluetooth, which makes them compatible with your PC. Here's how to start using them for PC gaming.

Wage war on a budget with these fun and free first-person shooters

We all know about Halo and Call of Duty by now, but what about quality titles that won't cost you upward of $60? Check out our picks for the best free first-person shooter games from Paladins to Quake Champions.

Get creative and collect 15 coins with our Fortnite overtime challenges guide

The first Fortnite overtime challenges are now available. Use our guide to help you collect the hidden coins in the featured Creative mode islands and get closer to that free season eight battle pass.
Virtual Reality

Getting into VR is spendy. Which headset is truly worth your hard-earned cash?

Virtual reality has finally gone mainstream, but how do you find the best VR headset for you? Check out a few of our favorites, whether you want the best of the best or a budget alternative for your mobile device.

Become a champion with our beginner's guide to Apex Legends

Jumping into Apex Legends for the first time? Need help becoming a champion? Our Apex Legends beginner's guide has 15 tips and tricks that will hopefully help your team make it into the champion's circle.

Buy a new Switch console and get a $35 eShop gift card at some retailers

Multiple retailers are currently offering the Neon Blue and Red Nintendo Switch console with a free $35 eShop gift card. The system still costs the standard $300 and includes Joy-Con controllers and the dock.

Thrive in the nuclear apocalypse with our Metro Exodus survival guide

Metro Exodus is a difficult shooter, especially if you're new to the series' blend of stealth, action, and scavenging. Here is what you need to know to survive the nuclear apocalypse.