GAMES CONSOLE MAKER Microsoft is offering "influencers" money to promote the Xbox One on Youtube, a leaked email detailing a promotional campaign with video entertainment network Machinima has revealed.
The promotion, which Machinima apparently sent out to its clients via email, offered to pay content creators $3 CPM, or about £1.80 CPM, for videos uploaded featuring Xbox One content. The acronym CPM stands for cost per thousand pageviews, and the "M" is the Roman numeral 1,000. The campaign rules said that in order to get paid, influencers must keep their mouths shut.
The rules given to the promoters to receive bonuses also included uploading at least 30 seconds of gameplay or footage of any Xbox One game to Youtube, verbally mentioning which game was being played, and tagging the video with "XB1M13".
According to the email, the campaign started on 14 January and is still running, with a projected end of 9 February or until a total of 1.25 million views have been reached, with a possible total earnings per promoter of $3,750.
A Twitter account that supposedly is the former account of UK Machinima community manager Ron Smith with the handle @Clickinsect has been resurrected by an unknown user who is posting tweets regarding the scandal.
The profile's description claims that Smith's account was deleted after Machinima was proven to be involved in Microsoft Xbox One "payola".
(PROTIP for dealing with scandals of any sort. Don't delete tweets, and don't run. Fess up and apologize.)— Machinima Sucks (@ClickInsect) January 21, 2014
One of the account's tweets links to a supposedly full-blown copy of the campaign agreement on Pastebin.
According to the Pastebin document, participants are told they "may not say anything negative or disparaging about Machinima, Xbox One or any of its Games in your Campaign Video", with the confidentiality section stating, "You agree to keep confidential at all times all matters relating to this Agreement, including, without limitation, the Promotional Requirements, and the CPM Compensation, listed above."
Since the agreement came to light, Zavvi has knocked £20 off the price of the Xbox One, the first price cut seen on the Microsoft games console since its launch. This brings the Xbox One price down to £409.99, making the price of the latest Microsoft games console closer to the £349 price of the rival Playstation 4 (PS4) and raising concerns that Microsoft is struggling to keep up with Sony's lead on the games console market.
In a statement sent to The INQUIRER, Microsoft claimed it knew nothing about the fact that it allegedly was paying Youtube stars to promote the Xbox One.
A spokesperson said, "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 [programme] indicating they were part of paid advertising." µ