Machinima and Microsoft had a promotional deal in which content producers for the online network were paid extra to endorse the Xbox One.
According to a report from Ars Technica, at least one promotion was in effect where Machinima creators were paid an extra $3 CPM (per one thousand views) for video content that featured the Xbox One or its related services. To qualify, a video had to contain a minimum of 30 seconds of Xbox One gameplay within its opening two minutes - suitable videos were tagged with "XB1M13."
In a leaked copy of the legal agreement backing the promotion, it is made clear that this video content be, "focused on driving awareness for Xbox One Release," adding the caveat that, "you may not say anything negative or disparaging about Machinima, Xbox One or any of its Games." There are also clauses to ensure that the creator indicates that they are personally interacting with the game being discussed.
As Ars Technica points out, this deal between Machinima and Microsoft may contradict guidelines laid out by the FTC governing the way such relationships and endorsements should be conducted. Specifically, the FTC would require any such arrangement to be clearly disclosed in the videos.
The promotion only extended to the first 1.25 million video views, bringing the total additional money paid to just $3,750. This total was apparently reached just two days after the campaign started on January 14 this year.
This is just one more example of the games industry's increasingly complicated relationship with the burgeoning YouTube scene. Indeed, Microsoft found itself in hot water around the Xbox One launch for its alliance with controversial YouTube 'personality', KSI.
Other game publishers have been more hostile. In May, Nintendo was among the first publishers to challenge YouTubers' right to make money from 'Let's Play' videos featuring its games, and by the end of the year YouTubers were claiming of restrictive new policies enforced by the video hosting site.
[UPDATE]: Microsoft and Machinima issued a statement to The Verge in response to the report:
"This partnership between Machinima and Microsoft was a typical marketing partnership to promote Xbox One in December. The Xbox team does not review any specific content or provide feedback on content. Any confidentiality provisions, terms or other guidelines are standard documents provided by Machinima. For clarity, confidentiality relates to the agreements themselves, not the existence of the promotion."