Conan O'Brien charges for Clueless Gamer reviews

Red Barrels confirms $35,000 fee to have Outlast featured on segment; show says disclosure unnecessary

YouTube content creators aren't the only people selling game coverage. Re/Code reports that some of the games featured on Conan O'Brien's Clueless Gamer segments paid to be there.

A Red Barrels spokesperson confirmed the studio spent $35,000 to have its debut game Outlast featured in a Clueless Gamer PC horror game roundup last year. Developers behind the other two games in the segment--Slender: The Eight Pages and Amnesia: The Dark Descent--denied paying anything for their placement. Mojang, whose hit Minecraft was another featured Clueless Gamer title, also denied paying money for the spot. Of the aforementioned games, only Outlast received an enthusiastically positive review, with O'Brien saying he loved the game.

According to one unnamed source, roughly a quarter of the titles included on the Clueless Gamer segments paid for their appearance. Those deals aren't disclosed to viewers, but representatives for the show said they don't need to be.

"These Clueless Gamer segments are not serious reviews nor endorsements - they are strictly comedic sketches," the representative said, adding, "We do not believe sponsorship identification is needed."

The representative went on to point out that the premise of the Clueless Gamer segment is that O'Brien has no qualifications to review games in the first place.

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Latest comments (8)

Sasha Yelesin Student 2 years ago
Kind of shady, but I'm not surprised. Although, Conan tends to rip the games apart or ignore the things that potential buyers would care about. Like in Tomb Raider, he just jokes about Lara's butt and freaks out at the brutal death animations. He doesn't care about gameplay or story, so I can see where the rep.'s defense comes from.

Still, I haven't trusted games journalists/reviews in a long time, and all this monetizing of Youtube stuff isn't helping.
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Tim Ogul Illustrator 2 years ago
If the segments don't have marketing value then they shouldn't be charging for them. If they are worth charging for, then that relationship should be disclosed to viewers.
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If its done then confirm its done and stand by being a shill, don't pretend it is not happening.
And also stop pretending games are selected to appear in the slot based on being "...special quality our game guy saw in them!"

Edited 1 times. Last edit by kevin williams on 25th January 2014 3:41am

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Show all comments (8)
Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 2 years ago
Hmmm. I wonder if "payola" is back after all. Sure, Conan's "not qualified" to be a game reviewer, but he gets a huge audience who'll like what he likes, even if it's a "fake" review.
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David Serrano Freelancer 2 years ago
Does Conan O'Brien's production company charge the fee... or does TBS?
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Tim Ogul Illustrator 2 years ago
Hmmm. I wonder if "payola" is back after all. Sure, Conan's "not qualified" to be a game reviewer, but he gets a huge audience who'll like what he likes, even if it's a "fake" review.
Yeah, him being a reviewer means nothing, the opinions he presents about the game means nothing, but giving the game five minutes coverage to a broad audience? That's certainly marketing dollars well spent.
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Rafa Ferrer Localisation Manager, Red Comet Media2 years ago
The way I see it, this is not games journalism, so to me it's not really a big deal. Like Tim said above, this is marketing, and marketing means products paying for coverage. When this happens with actual games journalism, on the other hand...

EDIT: It's no secret that almost every guest in a late night show has a new product going on and the interviews are a part of its promotion.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Rafa Ferrer on 27th January 2014 8:53am

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Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany2 years ago
Am I the only one here that kinda guessed it?
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