It's reported that YouTubers were offered cash by Microsoft to speak favorably about the Xbox One and include footage of the next-gen console's games in their videos. The catch? The couldn't speak ill of the next-gen hardware.

participants also had to promise to “not say anything negative or disparaging about Machinima, Xbox One, or any of its Games.

There is nothing wrong with a developer or hardware maker trying to hedge its bets with reviewers – because anyone with a backbone wouldn't accept, right? - but what is uncommon is the extensive non-disclosure agreement that reads like a CIA file and denies its very existence. I'm still waiting for it to self destruct.

Microsoft promises YouTube posters $3 per thousand video views, Ars Technica revealed, in a scheme organized through Machinima and offered to its partners via email. Videos had to include at least 30 seconds of Xbox One gameplay and have the user mention Microsoft's console by name and tag the video with the keyword “XB1M13.”

So what's wrong with a person reviewing the Xbox One on YouTube? Nothing yet, here is where it get's shady: In the full agreement, as posted on Pastebin, states that participants also had to promise to “not say anything negative or disparaging about Machinima, Xbox One, or any of its Games.”

The campaign was very short-lived. Microsoft promised only to pay for the first 1.25 million views of favorable videos and that milestone was reached in just the second day of the campaign. However the company still benefits for the existence of these biased videos which it paid cash for.

While YouTubers have to make a living too, Microsoft's shady deal and the complete lack of criticism available to the hosts make this one sketchy affair.

According to the US Federal Trade Commission guidelines, participants in a promotion content must disclose “a connection between the endorser and the seller of the advertised product that might materially affect the weight and credibility of the endorsement.”

What do you think? Is this just adding to Microsoft's notorious big-brother credentials or is paying off YouTubers a given?

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[Via Ars Technica, Pastebin, Eurogamer]