UPDATE: YouTubers defend Shadow of Mordor’s contractually positive reviews

Two prominent YouTubers have come out in defence of the draconian contract requirements that Warner handed to YouTubers who wanted access to Shadow of Mordor.

The saga was called out by Jim Sterling early this week, with fellow YouTuber Totalbiscuit also adding that the contract requirements boggled his mind”.

Steven ‘Boogie2988’ Williams, however, has said that he did sign up to the terms.

What all this means is that the guys at Warner Bros have decided some part of their advertising budget will go to YouTubers,” he said. Now each YouTuber, and the people that represent them, are responsible for their own contract. Sometimes people will walk away. Sometimes they’ll agree to your concerns. It’s all up to the YouTuber.

But ultimately the gist is this; they want their game portrayed in a positive way that will give the viewer a chance to evaluate the game for themselves so they might be influenced to check it out (and hopefully purchase it).

Now for someone like PewDiePie, RoosterTeeth, or even myself this isn’t a terrible thing. None of these people are going to tell you to ‘buy it now’. None of these people are going to give it a review score. They’re likely to just play the game, show you the fun parts they experienced, and then tell you to check out the game for yourself.

This is all well and good as long as those YouTubers REMAIN TRANSPARENT and you know when its paid promotion and when it’s not.”

Ryan Ohmwrecker, meanwhile, told Kotaku that such deals are needed to offset the decline in ad revenues that most YouTubers are experiencing.

"We’ve seen things like our monetized views, [cost per thousand views], etc shrink year after year,” he said. More people are watching videos via their mobile, tablets, or even their new consoles. That, or they are running Adblock when they browse YouTube, or are in regions where advertisements aren’t targeted, leading to a situation where we’re lucky if our channel growth offsets the ongoing declines.

"When I first made the jump to YouTube in 2012 I saw a little over half of my views go monetized, whereas today in 2014 it’s around 34%. As you can imagine it is pretty alarming. For some YouTubers, occasional brand deals are just another way to try to offset the situation."

Ohmwrecker added that of his 1,260 videos only 35 are sponsored and each of these carries a disclosure.

UPDATE: Ohmwrecker has said that neither he nor Williams signed up to the terms as described by Jim Sterling.

Ohmwrecker also directed MCV to a comment he left under the aforementioned Kotaku article.

"The YouTubers targeted for these campaigns are not those that serve a critic/reviewer function on Youtube,” he said. This campaign (much like others I’ve seen pop up) involved entertainers/personalities/’influencers’, and were really directed at content creators that had already expressed interest in the game via social media, or at expos.

TotalBiscuit was not a target for it, he only heard about the campaign because he went looking, and contacted PlaidSocial, a company that had no intention of soliciting him to make a sponsored video. Regardless, he did get code that he could use to critique well before launch, and even PC Gamer had code and had published an article and gameplay video on 9/25, way before sponsored content was allowed to hit.

Critics were not locked out, they just had their own issues to deal with on the PR side for whatever reason, whereas others were getting in through a marketing initiative. Two different departments.

At no point were any of the companies managing the deal asking for any kind of review, nor was the term review code even mentioned. They were offering early access to record gameplay, with the ability to release videos anytime in the week of launch. Sponsored videos were embargoed until launch day at the minimum, it’s not like they were trying to push sponsored content out before reviews could hit. Reviews for consoles hit as early as 9/25, way before launch, and TB had his ‘WTF Is’ up before sponsored content even went live.

The vast majority of content creators that I know and work with absolutely do provide disclosure, and have been trying to do so in a visible and honest way. I made the argument well over a year ago that there needed to at the very least be a statement in the description, and now most people I know have moved that into the top line of the description so it’s very easy to find. Some content creators have even begun making a mention in the beginning of the video itself.

I feel most YouTubers are trying to do the right thing as individuals that are still figuring things out day by day, even though we don’t always see the same from celebrity game endorsements.

There were a minimum of four different companies managing contracts for the deal, each unique, and I know many people that requested modifications/outs on a variety of terms before they even accepted in any way. What was published is not what anyone I personally know signed as is.

The majority of the time these sponsored opportunities are arranged by YouTube MCNs, like Maker, or Machinima, and lack 99% of the goofy terms/guidelines that were highlighted in t

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