EA should be used to being constantly criticized by now, but that doesn't mean they won't avoid it if they can, especially when they're shelling out some cash in return for what they expect to be a positive review.
According to VG24/7.com, YouTuber GGmanlives was sponsored by the publisher to review the new release of Anthem as part of the Game Changers program. But, after sharing an honest and unbiased opinion in his video, he was asked to remove the EA watermarks, which meant that the clip had to be taken down.
The watermarks are there to prove involvement with Game Changers to the viewing audience. However, EA wanted no part of it after catching wind of the review.
“I basically wasn’t allowed to say anything negative about the game if I also had the watermark in because the watermark means EA endorses it and shares it through the Game Changers network or something," he told VG24/7 via a Twitter DM.
I finally managed to get my #AnthemGame video done and sadly I don't have many positive things to say about it. I hope they can fix game this over time by listening to player feedback, but right now it's a hard sell. And it's a damn shame. https://t.co/GDGWKTIpZY— Gggmanlives (@Ggdograa) February 21, 2019
I'm blacklisted by EA now and had to delete it.— Gggmanlives (@Ggdograa) February 22, 2019
"I really don’t know what it all means. I was just told it was to be pulled down and was basically a breach of contract or something along those lines.”
The publication reached out to EA for clarification and a spokesperson responded, claiming that the Game Changers initiative is not designed to pay for reviews.
“Our Game Changers program is not designed to pay for review content. We don’t believe in that,” the spokesperson explained. “In this case, the conditions for disclosure for this specific video were not met – which is something we adhere very strictly to – so we asked for it to be taken down and corrected. We’ve not asked for the content of the video to be changed, or ‘blacklisted’ the creator. Our full disclosure rules can be found here.”
The YouTuber, however, told VG24/7 he was sponsored to specifically create a review for the game.
Other persons involved with Game Changers have been contacted by VG24/7 and a content creator said the following:
“As far as I understand it (when EA has asked me to work with them on paid content), they simply want coverage of the game. They’ve never had issues with me giving my full and honest opinion. In this case, I think the channel in question was sponsored to cover the game, go over the general gist, and show gameplay. Think of the Apex Legends Twitch event, where Twitch paid big streamers to play Apex as soon as it went live. They paid them to play the game and I think this deal was that the channel got paid to make a video covering the game.”
The video has since been re-uploaded, but without the EA watermarks, while EA International Manager of Community Engagement Lee Williams has denied that the YouTuber was blacklisted.
"Just want to clear something up," he wrote in a tweet. "Nobody has been blacklisted by us, our team in Australia asked the video be taken down because some of our conditions on disclosure on sponsored weren’t met. Nothing to do with the content of the video."