Gamasutra surveyed more than 100 YouTubers who specialize in video game coverage and asked them if they’ve ever been paid for coverage and here’s what they found out:
The chart is divided into two sections; YouTube channels with less than 5,000 subscribers and those with more. Under 5,000, only a tiny percentage have ever been paid to play. Clearly that’s the breaking point for video game companies. Over 5,000, the majority still say no but 21% said yes.
But this is only half the story. Those who haven’t taken money. . . was it because it wasn’t offered or because they think it’s ethically wrong?
So Gamasutra asked the question: “What is your opinion of YouTubers charging money to developers for video coverage, and is it ethical?”
64% of smaller channel owners said YouTubers should NOT take money for video coverage. When you move up to the larger channels, 60% say no to cash. Why? Mostly because they feel it undermines the integrity of the content and YouTube as a whole. How can you trust a reviewer to be honest if he’s being paid by the company that made the game?
A few YouTubers said it was okay to accept money if all you’re doing is playing the game, not actually reviewing it. Others said it’s just a part of doing business.
“Copyright holders don’t want us to monetize, no one likes ads, no one likes paid content — but we invest our free time into covering the games we love and want to share, basically giving free PR for the game itself. If a YouTuber asks for money for delivering great content, it’s not wrong — it’s compensation.”
And that’s the problem. . . most people think all YouTubers run their channels just for fun and you shouldn’t get paid to have fun. Bloggers used to suffer from this same misconception – still do to some extent . . . Tell the average person that you make a living on YouTube and they’ll look at you with this blank, confused stare. A living? As in, you make money? But it’s not a job so . . . how. . .
Even people who make their living elsewhere on the internet find it hard to comprehend.
Getting back to those video game tubers. . . they have a special problem. When Miss Crafty partners with a rubber stamp company for a series of design team projects, that’s business as usual. But when a channel that’s aimed at young viewers accepts a partnership, they often get accused of selling out. Instead of being happy for the YouTube star, a sponsored video is more likely to receive a hundred sneers and jeers.
So what’s a popular YouTuber to do? Take their chances. Take the money and put a huge disclaimer on the video: this review was bought and paid for by XYZ Games. Transparency above all else if you want to keep your audience coming back for more.