EA paying YouTube gamers for coverage
Ronku program shells out hundreds of thousands of dollars to promote titles like Battlefield 4, Need for Speed Rivals
Earlier this week, Microsoft and Machinima downplayed outcry about a program paying YouTube content producers to endorse Xbox One, calling it a "typical marketing partnership." It may be more typical than previously thought, as EA has confirmed to The Verge details of similar initiatives running for everything from NHL 14 to Battlefield 4.
"Through EA's Ronku program, some fans are compensated for the YouTube videos they create and share about our games," a spokesman told the site. "The program requires that participants comply with FTC guidelines and identify when content is sponsored. User-generated videos are a valuable and unique aspect of how gamers share their experiences playing the games they love, and one that EA supports."
Some detailed assignments from the Ronku program were publicized by a poster on the NeoGaf forums. Among the terms shown was an agreement "to keep confidential at all times all matters relating to this Agreement and any Assignment including, without limitation, the Details and Compensation listed above." Despite that, the EA representative told The Verge it hasn't run afoul of disclosure requirements, saying, "We explicitly state in the Terms & Conditions of the program that each video must comply with the FTC's Guidelines concerning Use of Testimonials and Endorsements in Advertising."
Unlike the Microsoft Xbox One Machinima program, EA's Ronku assignments did not explicitly forbid content creators from saying negative things about the games. However, they did require that creators not focus on any software bugs, and the Need for Speed Rivals assignment forbids disrespect toward the licensed car manufacturers in the game.
For most of the assignments listed, EA was paying an extra $10 CPM (cost per one thousand views) for YouTube videos that fit the criteria. The Need for Speed Rivals campaign was capped at a $60,000 payout, while the Battlefield 4 launch assignment was maxed out at $200,000 in compensation paid.