Survey: More than 25% of popular YouTubers admit to taking cash from publishers


Here we go

The videogame industry sees its share of controversies and hot-button conversations come and go on a near weekly basis. However, one talking point that always manages to stick around is the topic of ethics, usually with regard to the media. The public generally agrees on what it expects from websites such as this one, and if there were a legitimate claim that an outlet accepted money from publishers in exchange for editorial, there’d be a five-alarm fire immediately burning that site to the ground.

With the rise in prominence of YouTubers, that ethical line seems to be muddled. What’s their role as far as being media goes? They certainly aren’t traditional press, but are they held to the same general standards that everyone else is? If someone’s just talking over himself playing a videogame in a Let’s Play video, could his integrity even be compromised?

It’s a topic that’s been touched on before, but will most likely get considerably more attention in the near future. Gamasutrarecently conducted a survey and found that of approximately 40 YouTubers with more than 5,000 subscribers (and up to more than one million), a quarter of them admitted to accepting money from publishers in exchange for videos of their games. Keep in mind that that statistic could be higher in all actuality; it’s just that those were the ones willing to confess to the practice.

To be fair, far from everyone surveyed condoned the idea of taking cash for coverage. In Gamasutra’s detailed breakdown of the study, several written responses admonished the idea in convincing fashion. However, there were enough affirmative replies that it’s obviously a problem — one that both publishers and content creators are guilty of.

Maybe the biggest issue here — even larger than the exchange of money for coverage — is the light in which YouTubers view themselves. One survey comment read “Bigger YouTubers are mainly PR mouthpieces.” Another weighed in with “YouTube videos are, in a sense, a form of advertising — therefore it makes sense to pay for advertising.” At least it seemed to be mostly agreed upon that transparency to the audience is important in the event that coverage is paid for. However, as an industry that’s just starting to really tackle this topic, these jumping off numbers seem too high to be at all comfortable with.

Pay for Play: The ethics of paying for YouTuber coverage [Gamasutra]