EA and YouTube producers broke FTC rules with Battlefield 4 promotion
Earlier this week it was revealed that EA paid YouTube producers to say good things about Battlefield 4 when it launched, and to hold off any criticism until November 29th — a month after release.
EA paid out $200,000 to these YouTube producers, many of whom have over a million subscribers. While it’s understandable that the YouTube content makers deserve to earn money for their work, they did no disclose that they were paid to say nice things about Battlefield 4.
After the reveal that EA sponsored these videos, the company released a statement where they specifically said that YouTube producers must follow FTC guidelines and disclose that the content is sponsored. But very few, if any of the big-time YouTube producers did that.
The list of big YouTubers who were part of EA’s campaign counts LevelCapGaming, FrankieOnPC, JackFrags, and many others. With millions of subscribers, they were perfect for EA’s sponsorship — all of them posted videos that meet specifically EA’s criteria (“Battlefield 4 launch” in the title, a link to the EA’s official site in description, and more). All of the videos also include exactly the same bit.ly link as EA specifies in the contract. None of the YouTube producers disclosed that they were paid by EA to do this.
LevelCapGaming, FrankieOnPC, JackFrags, and the rest have thereby broken FTC rules and could face serious fines from the government agency. EA could be in trouble as well.
Interestingly, after EA’s deadline on November 29, all of these YouTube producers started criticizing Battlefield 4 and its numerous problems. Up until then, they never said a word about the glitches, just as EA’s contract said.
Here are a few examples of videos that were sponsored by EA, but never disclosed it:
From FrankieOnPC (only says positive things, despite the game being unplayable at that time. He actually even says “I’m not paid to say this” in one of his videos):
From LevelCapGaming (specifically talks about Levolution, which is what EA was trying to push with the paid sponsorship):
From JackFrags, another popular Battlefield 4 YouTube channel:
Each of these three YouTube channels have posted numerous Battlefield 4 launch videos as part of EA’s campaign, and they have accumulated millions of views (and earned thousands of dollars for their creators). A simple “Battlefield 4 launch” search on YouTube reveals a ton of videos from many content producers that meet all of EA’s guidelines (see below). Yet, none of the videos disclose that they are sponsored by EA.
This is just one of the latest PR disasters for EA, one that could cause a lot of trouble not just to EA, but to YouTube content producers as well.
Here’s EA’s full contract that these channels had to comply with:
And proof that the videos are using exactly the same link as EA provided (via Reddit):
UPDATE: The FTC has responded to this issue (via Polygon), saying that the FTC offers “guidelines”, and that YouTube producers and EA did not break any laws. However, none of the YouTube producers disclosed that their videos were sponsored by EA.