Warner Bros. has just settled an FTC complaint which accuses the company of paying prominent YouTubers (among them is PewDiePie) for positive review videos for their 2014 video game, Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor. The FTC charge stated that Warner Bros. deceived customers by paying thousands of dollars to social media “influencers”.
The company got off very lightly and under the terms of the agreement, Warner Bros. is banned from failing to disclose similar deals in the future. “Consumers have the right to know if reviewers are providing their own opinions or paid sales pitches,” director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection Jessica Rich said in a statement. “Companies like Warner Brothers need to be straight with consumers in their online ad campaigns.”
It’s kinda a stupid move by Warner, especially when you consider how good Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor actually is. It’s a brilliant game and certainly didn’t need the paid reviews. The fantasy role-playing game, released in 2014, is based in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings universe and is considered on of the best games of that year.
Sponsored content is increasingly common in the YouTube and blogging community, however, reviews scores should never be determined by companies.