Jimquisition: Super Ethical Vlogging Climax


King over my mind
Mar 29, 2011
Doctor Proctor said:
At least Jim got the facts mostly right, unlike the Escapist Podcast. One thing he glossed over though was that the NDA that was a part of this deal did NOT prevent disclosure, it was just an NDA on the terms of the contract. In other words, they could've said "The following video is brought to you by Micosoft" or some such thing, but just weren't supposed to talk about how much money they were receiving per 1000 views. This is fairly standard and exists even in the journalism side, as I'm sure you'd find out if you asked someone at The Escapist what their contract terms were for the commercials that they're currently running in front of their videos. ;)

In other words, MS was never preventing anyone from disclosing the existence of the deal, and neither was Machinima. It was the YouTubers themselves who failed to inform their audience, which to my knowledge is still illegal in the US since you are required by the FTC to disclose paid sponsorships (which is why it says "Paid Spokesperson" in fine print at the bottom during testimonial style commercials). So regardless of how you feel about MS and Machinima in this, the lion's share of the blame is on the YouTubers themselves, and I wouldn't trust a word that comes out of the mouths of any of those who didn't disclose this.
From what I understood, part of the contract that explicitly states that the person must disclose that it is a paid content deal was missing despite being part of a standard contract.

At least, that's what I got from this:

00:30 ReconXBL (the contract's leaker) on Machinima's Xbox contract
02:02 Getting into games on YouTube after the Army
05:20 Why he decided to come out and leak the XB1M13 agreement
07:30 How did you pick up on it when no one else did? Have there been previous non-disclosure contracts?
09:15 Getting locked into Machinima contracts
10:20 What was your intended result for posting the contract details?
12:23 What is "Poptent?"
16:00 Do social media campaigns actually work if you're not a huge network?
18:15 Erik on why YouTubers that scares big gaming outlets like Kotaku
20:01 TotalBiscuit's opinion as a YouTuber and semi-journalist, and his experiences with similar agreements
21:50 Pseudo word of mouth promotion for super cheap advertising
23:38 Advertisers looking to at YouTubers with potential to build their brand
25:14 When a video subtly advertises, is it even more shady?
26:30 Do average YouTube watchers even know when a 'YouTuber' is being paid to say something?
28:40 Is this problem endemic to the gaming industry, or does this happen elsewhere?
29:00 "There are no ethics rules on YouTube"
31:09 The disclosure guidelines and what constitutes adequate disclosure - is a YouTube description enough?
33:09 There are blogs, and videos, but what about in between?
35:00 Should a threshold of influence be a determining factor in disclosure rules?
36:12 Question from Google+: "Just to clear the air here. Have you Adam or anyone at Rev3 games ever been paid to mention a game or product without disclosing that it is paid for? Have you ever been contractually bound to not say anything negative about a game or product?"
42:44 How advertising and revenue works in larger companies: there's a wall between editorial and sales
44:30 Why this kind of advertising isn't gonna go away
47:49 Why a $3 CMP is so appealing to most YouTubers and Machinima partners
49:12 The importance of reading your contracts carefully
50:11 People need to be educated and aware of these situations
52:50 The dangerous relationship between YouTubers and their audience
54:44 Question from YouTube: "Do you feel contracts like this is a recent development or is it just the first time the public has been made aware of it?"
1:00:01 Press and media events and how they skew reviewers' opinions
1:05:10 "When we put you in a helicopter, it's to remind you that 'hey, this part of the game which is really just a rail-based shooter might still be fun!'"
1:08:00 How should this have been handled so it wouldn't have blown up like it did?
1:12:44 Transparency and integrity are the most important things between reviewers and their audience
1:16:31 Microsoft's disclosure agreement - why this went missing from the contract
1:20:00 TotalBiscuit: "Cut the bullshit, these kinds of deals and agreements are insulting to everyone"


New member
Jul 1, 2010
I used to work for a gaming publisher who will remain nameless. We 'bought' reviews all the time. Not with cash payments or anything so crass as that, but with exclusives, exclusive footage and press junkets/activity days and such forth. Again, I can't mention any names so as not to be mouthraped by hungry lawyers, but it included one or two people/organisations who are currently held as shining examples of journalistic integrity.

Whilst there are people who are still honest, the fact remains that much like political corruption, what you see is only a scratch on the surface of what goes on. Games journalists might be tight-lipped about back-handers, but the PR departments that buy them off rather enjoy boasting about it at the smoking shed.


New member
Jan 6, 2010
SwimmingRock said:
Bribase said:
Just out of interest, what game in the video had the guy in the rucksack on the quad bike? it looks awful.
I believe you're inquiring about Unearthed: Trail of Ibn Battuta. It's on Steam and shit. Jim did a video on it on his YouTube page and I've tried it myself. Didn't get far, because I encountered a game-breaking glitch that was sort of fixed later, but I'd already uninstalled the game by that time.
Thanks for the question and answer. Was wondering myself. At first I thought it was Alpha Protocol.

Does anyone know if a Double Jim a week will be standard from now?


New member
May 15, 2012
I bet you would be a good VA. You can inflect a lot of personality just through your speech.


New member
Mar 7, 2008
Scrumpmonkey said:
Alcamonic said:
Does anyone know if a Double Jim a week will be standard from now?
I don't think so. Our lord and savior Jim blesses us with additional Jimquisitions as he sees things that incur his wrath. But there have been a few double Jimquisition weeks of late so we are a bit spoiled.
Yeah, it tends to happen when there's big news that happens in the week, and he just wants to cover it while still fresh. He did one in November when people figured out every game out for Xbox One had a paywall in it somewhere, and another extra episode back in July when Phil Fish left gaming. So not common, but it happens when there's enough to talk about.


New member
Jun 15, 2013
So, Jim, would it be fair to say the Xbox One has left a bitter taste in your mouth?

Leonardo Huizar

New member
Jul 1, 2012
Nothing like a chubby brit performing Consolingus to remind me why i got up today

But seriously uncool Jim you didnt diddle the power adapter socket. What kind of gentleman are you, really?

Something Amyss

Aswyng and Amyss
Dec 3, 2008
It doesn't count unless you lick the Kinect too.

Scrumpmonkey said:
I don't think so. Our lord and savior Jim blesses us with additional Jimquisitions as he sees things that incur his wrath. But there have been a few double Jimquisition weeks of late so we are a bit spoiled.
The Jim giveth and the Jim taketh away.

Thank God for Jim.

But on topic, it's unsurprising that people are going to take bribes and other incentives and it's sad that people are shocked that YouTubers aren't above this sort of thing, like YouTube is some sacred institution.

That's not to say it's acceptable, but the level of trust placed in them has been....Disturbing.


New member
Jan 20, 2014
I'm glad you're staying honest Jim. If you ask me it's absolutely ludacrous that Microsoft literally bribed people for positive opinions. It's even worse that Machinima tried to brush it off so easily. What they should have done was make an extensive apology and promise it would never happen again.

I never take IGN, Gamespot, Gametrailers or Machinima's views as honest though. For those kinds of views you need to check out the small guys.


New member
Dec 5, 2008
By and large, I'm in agreement. And I think the point about the appearance of credibility in Youtube vloggers as "average Joes" or "voices of the masses" in particular is well taken.

I do feel a small need to point out, however, that people do dumb things, and journalists are no exception. Yes, one's audience or one's editors finding out that one has received some sort of payment for positive reviews could ruin a journalist's career. But there are plenty of people who have comfortable lives doing things they love who still manage to do self-destructive things that screw all of that up because they thought they could get a little more. Six- and seven- figure businessmen who commit crimes for profit despite their businesses being profitable, entertainment celebrities who commit petty crimes, people in seemingly happy marriages who cheat on their spouses.

In the case of journalists, the path could easily be more slippery than some: you're already receiving an early console directly from the company, you want to cultivate a good relationship with the company because it gets you access to people who otherwise wouldn't return your calls. They were happy with what you said about their new product, and they chose to show it. It was your honest opinion anyway; where's the harm...?

I'm just saying that while doing something stupid and self-destructive might obviously be the wrong choice, journalists aren't necessarily any more immune to destroying themselves than anyone else. For the record, I do believe in the integrity of Jim Sterling and the staff of the Escapist, I'm not saying that I think any of them would engage in such shenanigans, and no one is paying me to say that.


New member
Jan 31, 2009
Not to get off the subject of the video, but now I'm curious as to what tasted worse: The Xbox One or the Mountain Dew.

Also while it wasn't really discussed in the video, I'm a little disappointed at the FTC for not really following up on this.


Regular Member
Jul 7, 2011
I don't care.

I consume the stuff that I think is most accurate, and most interesting. If they can take bribes to change their opinions, and somehow this makes them more accurate an interesting, then great!

It seems really unlikely that something like that would happen. Being a corporate toady is likely to make a channel boring and frequently off-the-mark in its predictions and recommendations, but maybe they can somehow take bribes and still make quality stuff? Doesn't matter to me. I don't care one bit what went on in the background to create the stuff I'm consuming. Why should I?

I feel a little insulted here, like I'm being accused of being some sort of mindless zombie who just takes everything I read at face value and runs out and buys whatever I'm told is good by anybody, regardless of how well their opinions have served me in the past.

It feels like I'm being told that I'm unable to recognize false opinions, and even if I do spot them, it's not going to stop me from coming back for the next article.

Maybe this is just another example of Jim being too close to an issue. He tends to see molehills as mountains sometimes, and in this case it makes sense. This is his livlihood. He knows that if he crossed a line and got found out, it'd be a huge deal that would ruin his career, but to pretty much everyone else, this either doesn't matter at all, or it's just more fuel for finger-pointing at opposing corporations in the console flame war. He's just too close to everything. Those finger-pointing flame warriors are a very small percentage of gamers, but to Jim, they're all he hears all day to the point where he starts to mistake it for gamers in general.

I just don't care.