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Microsoft to sever all ties with KSI

Microsoft to sever all ties with KSI

Fri 22 Nov 2013 6:50pm GMT / 1:50pm EST / 10:50am PST
PoliticsPeople

London launch event "does not represent Microsoft's endorsement of KSI's personal views." [UPDATE: KSI rep responds, "Sexism is not something he condones or wants to be associated with"]

In an exclusive statement to GamesIndustry International, Microsoft has clarified its position on the involvement of YouTube personality KSI in the promotion for last night's launch of the Xbox One in London. The corporation has vowed not engage him again at any point.

"At the Xbox One launch in London last night, KSI performed a song with three other artists, which was one part of a ten-hour event featuring a main stage show, Xbox One gameplay, and a midnight launch for hundreds of our fans," said a Microsoft spokesperson. "This does not represent Microsoft's endorsement of KSI's personal views, and we are not planning on working with KSI in the future."

The statement comes in response to widespread anger and concern at the announcement of KSI's involvement and subsequent appearance last night, which upset many Xbox fans. Phil Harrison himself was only made aware of his reputation by a question during a GamesIndustry International interview immediately prior to the event, as shown below.

Q: I noticed you added KSI to the bill tonight, he's part of the marketing push. There's been a fair amount of pushback against his personal brand after some of his behaviour in public, some of his misogynistic attitudes. For example, he's been banned from all Eurogamer events. I can understand why he might be engaged as he's so popular among gamers, but I think there is an inherent message that that sends to gamers, particularly female gamers. Is that not going to push them away from the brand? Is this simply a matter of not being aware of his reputation?

Phil Harrison: I'm not familiar with the concerns you've raised so I'd love to understand that better, I'm happy to take that offline.

The question and response was omitted from the original interview to allow time for Microsoft to respond, as the people in the room, Harrison and two members of Microsoft's PR team, clearly had no idea of KSI's previous behaviour. Later, and off-tape, Harrison expressed concern over what clearly came as a personal revelation.

Whilst he was on best behaviour during last night's event, KSI has a history of very public and overtly derogatory behaviour towards women. Nonetheless, he is a tremendously successful YouTube personality and a brand associate of companies as wide-ranging as BT, EA and IGN. Two years ago KSI published a video of himself harassing women at the Eurogamer Expo, which swiftly led to him being blanket banned from all of the company's events in perpetuity. He later apologised and withdrew the footage, but other videos he's posted have shown it to be far from an isolated incident.

Further responses to KSI's involvement have reflected bewilderment, disappointment and anger at Microsoft's decision to include the YouTube presenter in last night's Leicester Square gig, where he appeared onstage with rappers Sway and Tigger the Author. Perhaps the best and most popular summary came from Videogamer's Matt Lees. His video has since been pulled due to a copyright infringement claim from KSI but has been reposted without any of the footage from his channel. As the clock has ticked by, various outlets and industry figures in the US have also weighed in, expressing their disdain for KSI's prior behaviour.

Update: In an email to GamesIndustry International, KSI's manager has now come to his defense, blaming his youth for his transgressions, apologizing and noting that sexism isn't something KSI condones. Here's the manager's statement in full:

Shortly after the 2012 Eurogamer video, KSI pro actively removed it from YouTube and made an apology directly to Eurogamer. He wasn't asked to remove the video in question, but on reviewing the content, he felt it contained potential to offend and thus removed it from his YouTube channel.

The situation was addressed and moved on from with Eurogamer. Between us, we decided KSI shouldn't attend this years show so as to not reopen unwanted attention for the organisers or himself. It was a thing of the past and we remain on good terms with the owners Eurogamer. We will continue to liaise on the best way to involve KSI or not at future expos.

As an 18 year old at the beginning of his YouTube career at the time, with no real guidance, he realised soon after the Eurogamer reaction, of the influence and popularity he was developing through the platform. Also the responsibility that was beginning to come with that.

KSI is a character of JJ or Olajide, a young man with great humility and politeness and far from the character portrayed in the Eurogamer video.

Sexism is not something he condones or wants to be associated with. He wishes to apologise for any offence the video of 15 months ago may have caused in the short time it was on his YouTube channel, references to it since and subsequently used by other people. In recent months, he has also been actively avoiding certain content seen in the distant past and wants to be judged on the great content and value he gives to brands and partners, without controversy.

In the past 12 months, JJ has worked with many brands, channels, partners and charities using his huge popularity to positive effect. Campaigns and content with said partners is carefully considered by JJ and always suitable to the brands image and requirements.

There is no denying his rapidly growing influence and how important it is to use that in a positive way. This is what he will continue to strive towards and continue to move away from any unfortunate content from the very early days in his career, when just a young lad out to entertain mates and early viewers. That is not the more aware and responsible JJ/KSI which is now developing into a true star.

JJ is a huge talent and as one of the most influential and popular UK entities in the UK and globally. Content of the past will not be repeated and he does not want to be misjudged on that. He is well aware of expectations from brands and partners and does not fail to embrace what is best for them in terms of his content for them.

He is actively working to address any negative impression he has given people with previous content in the past and hopes the industry will see this.

It's a shame this past indiscretion his been brought up as we had addressed it and KSI wants to move on from it. I don't feel it's right to judge someone based on an indiscretion which was pro actively removed and apologised for shortly after. Especially at such a young age.

That's not saying it was right, as JJ acknowledged it was wrong at the time and does again now.

39 Comments

Popular Comment
Who is KSI?

Posted:A year ago

#1

Dan Whitehead Managing Director, Word Play Narrative Consulting Ltd

51 198 3.9
"Perhaps the best and most popular summary came from Videogamer's Matt Lees. His video has since been pulled due to a copyright infringement claim from KSI but has been reposted without any of the footage from his channel."
Unless Matt reposted one of KSI's videos in its entirety, or claimed it as his own, I don't believe KSI has any legal right to demand it be taken offline. Fair Use clearly states that it's perfectly legal to reproduce portions of a copyrighted work for the purpose of criticism or commentary. That's obviously what Matt is doing, so KSI has just revealed himself to be even more petty and insecure than he at first appeared.

Posted:A year ago

#2
Popular Comment
Never heard of him...

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Pete Thompson on 22nd November 2013 7:10pm

Posted:A year ago

#3

Richard DeBarry Programmer

10 20 2.0
Popular Comment
1. Never heard of him.
2. Don't care enough about who he is to even look him up.

Posted:A year ago

#4

Kevin L. Clark Founder, Editor-In-Chief, Fresh Thinking Media Group, LLC

27 5 0.2
Never heard of him either, but maybe Microsoft will do a better job of researching talent...

Posted:A year ago

#5

Dan Pearson European Editor, GamesIndustry.biz

119 370 3.1
He has four million YouTube subscribers, so he's a pretty big deal.

Posted:A year ago

#6

Christopher Bowen Editor in Chief, Gaming Bus

459 738 1.6
I'm more concerned that this guy is working with companies like IGN, who like to have naval-gazing "how do we get more women!?" articles while endorsing the idiots.

Posted:A year ago

#7

Matthias Vandegaer System engineer, 9lives.be writer

3 6 2.0
Exactly what I thought Dr. Wong, until I read he's that guy who got banned from Eurogamer Expo for being a darn misogynist, at which point I just wondered: "wait, why did anyone still hire him after that?". That he had the original videogamer.com vid removed on copyright grounds while it was clearly fair use is just proves Matt Lees' point.

Companies need to get through their heads that YouTube-"celebs" aren't celebrities at all. Having four million subscribers just means four million accounts are linked to somebody's YT-page, without there necessarily being real human beings behind each and every account. We've all heard of bought Twitter followers or Facebook likes. To me it shows companies just don't do proper research on the people they hire for events and just look at some meaningless numbers.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Matthias Vandegaer on 22nd November 2013 7:30pm

Posted:A year ago

#8

Peter Dwyer Games Designer/Developer

482 293 0.6
Glad it's not just me! I have no clue who the frak he is either! I'm giving Phil a pass on this one as, given half of us have no clue about him, he's clearly NOT an industry wide name for gamers! Maybe some youtube vocal minority of misogynistic a-holes but, certainly not gamers as a majority.

Posted:A year ago

#9

Dan Whitehead Managing Director, Word Play Narrative Consulting Ltd

51 198 3.9
Popular Comment
I think the fact that so many in the industry don't know who he is speaks to a completely different problem. Misogyny aside, KSI has over 4 million subscribers and 631,986,434 views across 604 videos. Those are figures most specialist press sites would kill for. This isn't some guy who has bought some fake Twitter followers. KSI, and many other YouTubers like him, represent a seismic shift in how gamers are getting their information - those millions mean something. Brushing it off with "never heard of them so they don't matter" is not a good idea. This is where today's kids are turning for their gaming news - we (both industry and media alike) ignore that at our peril.

Posted:A year ago

#10

William Usher Assistant Editor, Cinema Blend

45 44 1.0
He has four million YouTube subscribers, so he's a pretty big deal.
Yes, but four million of some isolated YouTube users isn't that big really. Yes, it's big, but it could be four million non-gamers, four million misogynists or four million hip hop fans. Any isolated demographic contributing to the popularity of a YouTube personality is only big relative to YouTube.

Like everyone else already stated, I had (and still have) no idea who this KSI guy is/was until I read this article.

Posted:A year ago

#11

Dan Pearson European Editor, GamesIndustry.biz

119 370 3.1
Well, to put it into perspective, it makes him one of the biggest independent gaming media outlets in Europe.

Posted:A year ago

#12

Dan Whitehead Managing Director, Word Play Narrative Consulting Ltd

51 198 3.9
Popular Comment
Seriously? Four million isn't that big? Because it's "isolated"? I really think some of you folks need to really look at YouTube and the cultural shift it represents. These aren't figures that are slightly higher than old media - and I include traditional editorial websites in that term.

631,986,434 views. And KSI is far from the biggest name.

Between them, Smosh and PewDiePie have nearly SIX BILLION video views and THIRTY MILLION subscribers. Together, three young guys probably have more eyeballs than every specialist press magazine and website that has ever existed. Even if most of those subscribers aren't active, or don't even watch all their videos, they still represent an absolutely vast audience that traditional media isn't even touching. If a traditional magazine or website was posting figures like that, we'd all be pissing ourselves in excitement and/or envy. But because it's YouTube, it doesn't count?

This is where today's kids and teenagers are turning for their gaming news - for everything, really. Take a step back and really look at the picture. We're the niche. Not them. And in less than ten years, those kids are going to be the consumers driving the industry.

Trust me, being ignorant of this shift is not a good thing. Right now, too many of us are looking like the old radio guys saying television will never catch on. Or worse, like dinosaurs looking at the approaching meteor and thinking it's a pebble.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Dan Whitehead on 22nd November 2013 8:15pm

Posted:A year ago

#13
4 million YT ....well, can I be really tempted to say, microsoft dropped the ball. They should have tried to co LAUNCH the TARDIS and made it into one GIANT blue box one! with the good Doctor!

Posted:A year ago

#14

Donald Dalley Freelance writer

52 38 0.7
I was at an event run by a competitor of M$ and watched as the MC grabbed wristbands for a bunch of his stablemates. A couple of them even approached me as they were leaving the (slow?) event.

The point is that things happen beyond the control of the event managers. People have to see and understand them before they can be stopped. I hope M$ learned something from this misadventure.

Posted:A year ago

#15

Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,195 1,170 0.5
He has four million YouTube subscribers, so he's a pretty big deal.
As my late grandma used to say: "Just because it's popular don't mean it's GOOD..."
That pesky Charles Manson has a few too many thousand admirers (and a new girlfriend!), but I wouldn't want to call him anything but pretty damn evil and hope he's not around any longer sooner than later.

And a lot of today's kids who get their info from YouTube are less "informed" by entertainment than some of you believe, great consumers of mass quantities and all. Buying shit doesn't make you smart either - it just makes you a good little sheep. If this KSI is such a terror to the ladies, wouldn't he have LESS followers because people would be tuning out and internet outraging him right off YouTube? Or does YouTube not give a rat's ass because of FOUR MILLION subscribers first and women's rights second (or third, or fourth or whatever)?

Meh, I don't care either way, but it's a wee bit like the Jay-Z/Barney's controversy where Mr. bigshot rapper zillionaire forged ahead with his lucrative Barney's deal despite reports of some black shoppers being detained by police because they bought expensive items there with their own credit cards and where thought to be identity thieves because they made those purchases.

Posted:A year ago

#16

Wesley Copeland Freelance Video Game Journalist

12 83 6.9
"As an 18 year old at the beginning of his YouTube career at the time, with no real guidance, he realised soon after the Eurogamer reaction, of the influence and popularity he was developing through the platform. Also the responsibility that was beginning to come with that."

"Sexism is not something he condones or wants to be associated with. He wishes to apologise for any offence the video of 15 months ago may have caused in the short time it was on his YouTube channel, references to it since and subsequently used by other people."

Here's what KSI said in July of 2013:

"Awkward moment when you say hi to a girl and she ignores you, so you have to threaten with rape to get her attention while holding a knife.."

[Source: https://twitter.com/KSIOlajidebt/status/357496816205430784]

Posted:A year ago

#17

Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,195 1,170 0.5
@Wesley: Oooo-fah. Welp, that's not a "joke" to be brushed off lightly that's for damn sure. Put both feet in his mouth and did a backflip he did. Stuck the landing and all...

Posted:A year ago

#18

Robin Clarke Producer, AppyNation Ltd

331 784 2.4
"Between us, we decided KSI shouldn't attend this years show so as to not reopen unwanted attention for the organisers or himself."

Nope, he was banned. He or his management then presumably took the offending video down out of fear that it would affect his ability to get corporate gigs. Well guess what?

@Dan Whitehead: Before we get too carried away, let's remember that it doesn't cost anything to subscribe to a YouTube channel, and subscribing doesn't necessarily mean those people are ever watching again. It seems to me to be a metric easy to overvalue, like Facebook MAUs.

Currently YouTube celebrity requires little more than ambition and persistence. As the audience becomes more discerning, and real money starts to go into making the content, easy populist ploys like pranks and back-biting commentaries alone won't cut it.

Posted:A year ago

#19

Paul Jace Merchandiser

946 1,434 1.5
I also have never heard of this dude. And since nobody at Microsoft seems to have known of him either I wouldn't place too much blame on them. That being said, whoever is in charge of these things should have looked up exactly what it is he's suppose to be popular for. But still, had Microsoft known of his reputation(which apparently atleast 90% of the people on this site, myself included, didn't know) I'm pretty sure they would have never given him the time of day.

Posted:A year ago

#20

Bonnie Patterson Freelance Narrative Designer

186 521 2.8
It's nice to see sexism having consequences. Hopefully he learns something from it.

Meanwhile Sony's having no such problems with their crop of talent, including the very lovely MC Ohm-I.

Posted:A year ago

#21

Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,195 1,170 0.5
Let me add this: ANY of these fleeting internet "personalities" NEEDS to learn that when you're popular in some circles, there comes a little karmic fee where you check your ego at the door and tread lightly when opening your mouth/filming a segment/doing anything that can bounce back at ya at some point.

Popularity only lasts as long as you're popular and if you're not nice to those you step on while on the way up, you'll be seeing most if not all of those people on the way back down. Yeah, he'll have his defenders screaming about "free speech" and all that, but free speech doesn't at all mean freedom from responsibility when you toss out remarks like that and think they're "cool" or whatever.

Personally, I'm no fan on any of these yell/scream/rage "gamer" types shoving at each other for their 15 minutes and whatever free swag they can nab and any corporation who isn't checking out these potential brand ambassadors to make sure they're not going to be trouble (or have caused trouble in the past) deserves a smack to the forehead with a digital shovel.

Of course, I bet the apology tour will recommence, as I can;t seen anyone else using this guy for anything important because he'll be carrying some baggage he'll need to keep doing that dogeza for until people actually believe he's a changed person.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Greg Wilcox on 23rd November 2013 2:36am

Posted:A year ago

#22

Charles Line CTO, NYTA

7 11 1.6
My kids get all their gaming opinion from people like pewdiepie etc. They do not visit gaming websites nor read gaming magazines and show no interest in doing so. Maybe when they are older, but they are spending their pocket, birthday and Christmas money now on what these people recommend. YouTube is their favourite TV channel, I jest you not.

I am forced to watch this stuff in order to keep track of what they are consuming, so am more than acutely aware of their influence both with my own kids and with all their peers and am able to moderate it to a great extent (not many of them are like this KSI chap, thank heavens). If your game is not part of their repertoire then my kids and their friends don't know about you.

Those who ignore them or dismiss them with "never heard of them" or other such flippancies, do so at their peril.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Charles Line on 23rd November 2013 7:05am

Posted:A year ago

#23

Sandy Lobban Founder and Creative Director, Noise Me Up

315 208 0.7
I've never seen a marketing campaign progressively go down hill like the xbox one campaign.

How someone even thought this was a good idea is beyond me.

Definitely not the way to "get down wiv da kidz"

Posted:A year ago

#24

Dan Whitehead Managing Director, Word Play Narrative Consulting Ltd

51 198 3.9
@Dan Whitehead: Before we get too carried away, let's remember that it doesn't cost anything to subscribe to a YouTube channel, and subscribing doesn't necessarily mean those people are ever watching again. It seems to me to be a metric easy to overvalue, like Facebook MAUs.

Currently YouTube celebrity requires little more than ambition and persistence. As the audience becomes more discerning, and real money starts to go into making the content, easy populist ploys like pranks and back-biting commentaries alone won't cut it.
It's true that it costs nothing to subscribe to a YouTube channel, but it also costs nothing to visit most gaming websites and they're not getting a fraction of the traffic that these channels get. I'd say the sheer size of these numbers means that you can't write it off so easily. The top gaming YouTubers don't just get slightly more traffic, they're dwarfing the traditional media - and they're the top performing posters on the whole of YouTube. Even allowing for a very generous percentage of subscribers who may never come back the existence of multiple channels, each approaching one billion video views, skews the curve so hard that you'd need to be in willful denial to dismiss it.

There are many established brands, well funded companies, with their own YouTube channels that don't even begin to match those figures - so the argument that this success is just "ambition and persistence" that will be washed away once "real money" comes in doesn't really stand up. IGN comes closest to their figures, but has had to upload almost four times as many videos to do so. The world's biggest gaming media brand is basically having to sprint to keep up with one young guy from Sweden.

The "real money" is already there - and millions of viewers are still choosing the "amateurs". Like Charles says above, there's a generation coming up for whom YouTube IS the media. My son and his friends also don't watch TV or read magazines or visit specialist press sites. They watch YouTube.

As Buffalo Springfield sang, there's something happening here, and while "what it is ain't exactly clear", my point is simply this: saying "don't care, never heard of them" is the worst possible response.

Posted:A year ago

#25
Microsoft PR&Marketig didn't know him. You didn't know him. I didn't know him. Someone pointed out he has 4 million subscribers on his YouTube channel. Conslusion: MS, you, me... we are old geezers who do not know what's the thing now :-)

Everyone does at least know who RWJ is right?

Posted:A year ago

#26
At this rate, I'm gonna need to have Shitter (straight to internet twitter from brain) implants to not understand these internet personalities :)

Posted:A year ago

#27

Lorenzo Salvadori Videogame Audio Specialist

2 6 3.0
The thing is not who he is or who he's not. The thing is that Microsoft, one of the biggest corporation in the world, with thousands of billions of dollars, hired someone for advertising purposes, without having the smallest clue on that person background nor his relationship with the gaming world. Are you telling me that Microsoft can't do a research on people they pay to be tied with their brand? If it is so I am genuinely surprised. And not in a good way.

Posted:A year ago

#28

Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany

837 671 0.8
"Sexism is not something he condones or wants to be associated with"

Yeah, he only wants to be hypocritical and make money out of it. Nothing new under the sun... pathetic.

Posted:A year ago

#29

Vivek Singh Sidhu CEO & Founder, Pencillati

3 0 0.0
There's a difference between light hearted fun and insult. I feel terrible after looking at 'Mr.Slick' at the Eurogamer event. Chivalry maybe dead but do we want THIS to be the face of the gaming industry? I seriously don't think so. Some of the brightest and the most courteous people I know today are from this industry.

Posted:A year ago

#30
Bad business decision by MS marketing, seems to be a patten appearing for the corporation.

Posted:A year ago

#31

Drew Dewsall Editor, Game4Anything

11 0 0.0
Maybe I should go around insulting people on camera I would kill for those figures!
Interestingly I am sure he was at Eurogamer this year. A young lad I was working with was desperate to meet him. I, like many of you knew nothing about him. Perhaps a sign that we are getting old? Says the man with a Spectrum as his avatar!

Posted:A year ago

#32

Iain McNulty Software / Game Developer, Yanxen

35 42 1.2
A lot of people are commenting about how MS have screwed up, what about the rest of his corporate sponsors who obviously only backed him based on the amount of subscribers he has and his video tags.

YouTube is just as bad in that they actively promote his channel over a glass-ceiling. KSI's channel shows up on the right-hand side of my YouTube channel under "Popular Channels on YouTube". I do not want that idiot promoted in that space on my channel given my anti-misogynistic stance, but if I want any of my videos to show up in user's recommendations I am not allowed to disable this feature.

Posted:A year ago

#33

Eric Leisy VR Production Designer, Nike

117 127 1.1
Yikes that was a bit painful to watch. Well, I'm sure we all did things that were pretty ridiculous when we were 18. Pretty distasteful and rude. Also this line made me laugh and shake my head :

"JJ is a huge talent and as one of the most influential and popular UK entities in the UK and globally."

I have no idea who this guy is along with the rest of you, but that is because we're not teenagers - as much as we wish we were. :) But to say this guy is a huge talent? What's he talented at??

Posted:A year ago

#34

Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,195 1,170 0.5
But to say this guy is a huge talent? What's he talented at??
Right now? Getting "old" people to talk about him wee too much. Miley Cyrus is getting pissed off at someone at GI, but she doesn't know who just yet...

Posted:A year ago

#35

Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing

1,163 1,232 1.1
Sometimes you need to burn a bridge to light the beacon of promotion. It also does not need to be your own fire that warms your hands.

Posted:A year ago

#36

Chris Wray Freelance

8 10 1.3
Too many people here simply don't know who he is, as Dan Whitehead has been stating in his comments.

I inherently disagree with all that KSI stands for as a brand and a person, and I'm not much older than him (I'm 25, but to be presumptuous I believe that I was raised to a higher standard). But the key issue is that KSI and his like are what draw attention from the younger gaming audience and get the large numbers that others would kill to hit.
These figures are particularly from the younger male audience, the ones who more than likely make up the bulk of sales of FIFA, Madden, Call of Duty and other largely popular franchises. These are the ones you need to get talking about your game to get the largely younger audience interested in your product.

We are all aware that the average 'gamer' is closer to their thirties, but the older people are more inclined to read articulate articles and reviews from more established sites and magazines, possibly even from watching certain Youtube personalities like TotalBiscuit. However, I don't believe the older audience make up the bulk of sales simply because we have jobs to go to, families to look after and, even without families, social lives to live beyond what is delivered by a screen.

Posted:A year ago

#37

Emily Rose Freelance Artist

86 46 0.5
I'm 28, watch totalbiscuit on Youtube and had no idea who this KSI was (and rapidly regretting ever finding out, I tend to avoid garbage content if I can)

Hopefully we're still relevant :p Definitely agreeing with what Chris had to say above me.

Posted:A year ago

#38

Mgdfx Media Producer, iGame2.com

1 0 0.0
I actually thought it was funny college humor. I did not know who he was - I saw the video - My jaw dropped - but I still thought it was funny, no one seemed to take offense - some maybe a little uncomfortable - but that is what comedy is about. I looked at his other videos - and also his brothers channel. - at first I thought he bought the views for the video I watched on his channel - then I saw the amount of subscribers - and saw the view on the rest of his videos - easily - 1 million plus for each one .. and for the people who think Youtube views are not important need to know - I found this article again through a current article about Microsoft paying Youtube contributors to make good videos about their product.. If your game company does not have a presence on youtube, twitch, of twitter - you have to question the sanity of your sales and marketing / pr team.

Posted:10 months ago

#39

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