Monday, January 20, 2014

Why I Leaked the XB1M13 Agreement

Edit: This blog has exploded. I wanted to upload a video explaining things a bit more. And like I say in the video: if I was doing this for notoriety, I'd have had this video ready to go 25,000 blog views ago. I had no idea any of this was going to happen.

Microsoft recently began another YouTube advertisement campaign in which they pay Machinima partners bonus CPM to say good things about Xbox One.

I say "another" because they did it back in November, too, but no one cried about it back then for some reason.

What's interesting here is that E3, PAX and Comic-Con have all done similar advertisement campaigns through Machinima.

So are we supposed to boycott E3, PAX and Comic-Con now, or what?

I was the one who posted the XB1M13 agreement to Pastebin, seen here. Next thing I know, a shit ton of gaming news outlets are reporting on it, including:

PC World
LA Business Journal
The Verge
Forbes (contributor)
Media Minions (German)
Gizmodo UK
Spiegel (German) (Norwegian)
Paul Thurrott
The Guardian
Wired UK
Huffington Post
Game Informer
Wall Street Journal

And who knows how many others. Most of them link to the Pastebin that I uploaded.

Yes, it was me. I originally posted it in this GameFAQs thread, in response to this NeoGAF post.

I figured, "Well, I'm not signing it, and I don't see where it says I can't show it if I'm not signing it, only the part where it says I agree to NOT show it if I HAVE signed it... which I haven't, so... Whatever. Here you go, internet!"

I did not think it would blow up like it did.

But I posted it with the best of intentions. As much as I've tried to hide it, I knew there was something in there that wasn't quite... right. I couldn't place it, but the internet figured it out.

I also posted it to bring to light the idea of a campaign tag -- what it is and why it's important to note that it's there. Of the thousands of videos out there with the XB1M13 campaign tag, most of them haven't even signed the agreement and are not making any bonus CPM.

Check out this screenshot from Poptent:

That's 81 people who have signed the agreement and 80 submitted videos in 7 days. Most people uploading XB1M13-tagged videos to YouTube aren't even benefiting from the bonus CPM because they never even signed the agreement.

Popular YouTubers like Zack Scott, EightThoughts, Arctyc and Chris Trout have signed it (you can see who has signed it by clicking the numbers). I'm sure there are some other popular YouTubers in there, but I didn't recognize any of the other names. EDIT: There is a difference between "accepting the assignment" and "signing the agreement," according to someone who yelled at me on Twitter. I can't verify this, because I refuse to accept the assignment. But, hey, keep making me out to be the bad guy. Whatever.

Point is, I posted the agreement for the internet to see with the best of intentions. I wanted people to understand the significance of the campaign tag in these type of YouTube ad campaigns that will surely become more and more popular as time goes on. But I also wanted people to figure out what I couldn't, which was the part of the agreement that seemingly flies in the face of FTC guidelines regarding paid endorsers admitting that they're being paid to endorse a product.

The XB1M13 agreement apparently states that the YouTuber can't say anything about how he or she is being paid to endorse the product and that's the part I somehow read but glossed over when I was trying to figure out what the hell was wrong with the document. Again, I was also trying to convey the significance of the campaign tag, and I feel that that aspect of my intentions was totally tossed to the side by those who have taken what I posted and ran with it.

I hope that Microsoft modifies their agreement to state that the YouTuber must verbally state in their video that they're part of an ad campaign. That's what people want, and that's how it should be, anyway. I'm not saying it shouldn't be that way. I'm just saying that the campaign tag is there for a reason and people should become accustomed to it because these type of ad campaigns aren't going away.

I also hope that I'm not in any legal trouble. I've been sitting here, somewhat paranoid since all this has gone viral, a bit worried that my phone is going to ring and some Microsoft guy is gonna be all pissed off at me. I love Microsoft -- grew up on Windows and Halo is my favorite franchise of all time; decided to get Xbox One before PlayStation 4 even though I was extremely harsh to Xbox One for months after its bumpy reveal -- and I never meant any harm. I was really just trying to spread the word on campaign tags and shed light on the part of the document that didn't sit right with me, even though at the time, I couldn't figure out why.

I really didn't think I'd get in any trouble given that I wasn't actually SIGNING the document. But now... I'm kind of worried. Might sound silly, but I've got a wife and 9 month old son, and I can't afford legal trouble.

I guess that's all I've got to say about the situation.