As Gamasutra continues to investigate the ethics of game companies paying for YouTuber coverage, prominent YouTube personality John "TotalBiscuit" Bain has publicly committed to change his business practices so that all promotional videos will start with a disclosure splash screen. Although he did formerly have text-based disclosures in the YouTube video descriptions: "From now on, we'll be clearly disclosing promotional videos," wrote Bain in a TwitLonger post published today. "If your audience trusts you, you should also be able to trust them." Bain's comments come shortly after popular game-focused YouTuber network Yogscast announced the launch of YogDiscovery, a marketing initiative that sees the company taking revenue share from sales of a game like Space Engineers in exchange for producing videos and other promotional content for the game. The FTC's Mary Engle recently told Gamasutra that, generally speaking, the government agency expects content creators who are being paid by a company to produce favorable content about the company's products to disclose that arrangement in such a way that it is "clear and conspicuous, and should be upfront and easy to see where the viewer won't miss it." "It should basically be unavoidable by the viewer," Engle told Gamasutra. Bain's new ethical disclosure policy would seem to be in line with the FTC's expectations. Similar disclosures that are appended to a video's description are not, since they can be hard to find on a video's YouTube page and don't carry over if someone embeds the video somewhere else -- as Bain himself points out.
[Update: Gamasutra has updated the headline and article's second paragraph to further clarify that Bain was previously disclosing paid-for videos, but is now disclosing this within his videos - rather than in the description of videos.]
The main problem with disclosing in descriptions is embedded videos don't have them, neither do certain apps.— TotalBiscuit (@Totalbiscuit) July 15, 2014
The reality is, promo videos are going to happen and they cannot be stopped. We should be pushing for transparency and disclosure.— TotalBiscuit (@Totalbiscuit) July 15, 2014