Last month, it was leaked that Microsoft is embarking on an influencer programme, whereby YouTubers affiliated with the prolific YouTube gaming network Machinima, would be paid an extra $3 per 1000 views (on top of what they make from their ad revenues) to positively promote the Xbox One. Any videos made as a part of the programme were instructed to use the tag ‘XB1M13’.
Details of the leak were quickly spread around the Internet and outrage quickly ensued. The thing is that ‘influencer programmes’ aren’t anything that out of the ordinary – prolific YouTubers are regularly paid by video game companies to endorse their products: nothing different from typical sponsorship deals in sports, for example. But what made this different is that a line was crossed.