Hello gamers. Grab your tinfoil hats, because we are going to do some theorizing.
There's a very good possibility that the ESA (gaming industry lobbying group for EA, Bethesda, Take two, etc.) has taken a "boots on the ground" approach to fighting the Protecting children against abusive games act
by directly smearing platforms that promote the act. In result, the youtubers mentioned in the CNet hit piece were targeted because of their pro-consumer videos and promotion of this act. The ESA may have (directly or indirectly) encouraged CNet to create this smear piece to de-legitimize these youtubers, get them demonetized, and silence any supporters of the act. This could indicate a much larger ploy much bigger than one journalist or website that could impact the gaming industry as a whole.
If you agree or disagree, take this survey! Let your voices be heard!
I'd like to preface this rant with the fact that all of my claims are not reinforced by any direct causation-based evidence. I work in research and it's important for us to have actual proof. What I will talk about, however, is potential correlations. I also think it's important to pose this question so we can start investigating if somethings amiss.
To catch anyone up that may not know, CNet recently wrote a hit piece on a multitude of gaming youtubers that promote pro-consumer practices in our industry. They cover anything from false advertising from EA and Bethesda, to the recent proposal Protecting Children from abusive games act
and the ESA's fight against that. I don't agree on everything some of these guys say (I'm a black autist liberal who works in health research, so I have my own bias), but I definitely agree with them on the pro-consumer side. Before you keep reading, I encourage you to get informed. So check out the links below.
What is the ESA? Article on bi-partisan Protecting children against abusive games act from Psychology Today and the ESA's response The archived hitpiece article (Use this link! Don't go to their website and give them ad revenue) The economics and psychology of micro-transactions and loot boxes The direct link to gambling and micro-transactions CleanPrinceGaming's take on the article Downward Thrust's take on the article
You've read up on it? Got it? Good. Don't comment until you know what you're talking about.
Why do I think this? Well, it's been reported a multitude of sources that mainstream media, journals, and other news sites have been threatened by the mass amount of traction independent youtubers have gotten in the last decade. Especially on the gaming side. They've made a number of attempts to influence the platform through programs that force their unsuspecting partners to be overly positive to act as a counter-voice to the negative response of their own crappy business practices (i.e. the EA Game Changers program).
Before, it hasn't been a huge problem for their bottom line. Blacklist a few content creators here, flag a few videos there, but it's been fairly manageable. EA specifically has had record breaking profits
(or close to) over the last few years, so they're doing great. The CEO's of these companies are given stock packages that grow if the company is doing well (watch this piece on how gaming CEO's are paid)
. They're pretty happy with their earnings, despite stock issues.
That is, until the Protecting children against games act
came into play. It has been noted that the majority of EA's earnings have been through micro-transactions and loot boxes. With this act, the majority of their profits are now threatened. For many of these companies, their biggest player base and source of income comes from America. With this act, it threatens their biggest cash flow. It's already picked up a bit of steam a few European countries, South Korea, and a few others.
As noted above, the ESA lobbying group has personally lead the smear campaign against the act, stating that micro-transactions and loot boxes are NOT abusive to children, despite the recent research studies arguing otherwise. They've been using every platform they can to fight this legislation (even at E3, sadly).
It is very possible that they could have encouraged CNet directly or indirectly to write this piece. From there, all CNet had to do was contact these youtubers with the false pretenses of "attempting to help promote their channel" and BOOM, you've got some fuel to add to their funeral pyre. All they had to do next was send some incendiary messages to a few companies, and Youtube would (obviously) cave and throw these individuals under the bus. A few of the youtubers are already seeing hits to their income (The Quartering and CleanPrinceGaming). While I think promoting the demonitization of these youtubers is appalling (whatever happened to free speech?), I believe these attacks are just one of their many steps the ESA and the gaming industry plans to take to make sure this legislation doesn't receive more support and to silence individuals that criticize them. A two birds with one stone kind of situation.
So here's my question: do you think that the gaming industry is targeting these youtubers? If so, do you think that it is in response to the recent legislation that will regulate micro-transactions and loot boxes?
You can post in the comments, or you can let your voice be heard through the survey I've created. Let your voices be heard!