Update: G2A has responded to our email and confirmed that these messages were indeed sent to websites by a G2A employee. However, G2A also states that these emails were sent “without authorization.” The employee who sent the emails out to 10 different websites will “face strict consequences.”
A G2A sponsored post is reportedly being sent around to gaming websites. The fact that G2A is looking to get websites to write a sponsored post isn’t necessarily surprising in and of itself. What is surprising is that the email looking to get this sponsored post on websites appears to be asking the site owners to potentially violate US and EU law.
If you happen to be unfamiliar with the practice, a sponsored post is when a company pays a website, YouTuber, streamer, etc. to talk about their product. Typically, these will involve things like a flat payment for services rendered or some kind of affiliate link where the promoting website/YouTuber/streamer will get a portion of the proceeds from the sales made through their affiliate link. However, sponsored posts are tightly regulated by several nations and organizations to protect consumers, and this G2A sponsored post pitch appears to be asking people to violate those regulations.
Here is a snippet from the alleged e-mail from G2A highlighted in a tweet by Thomas Faust of Indie Games +:
We have written an unbiased article about how “Selling stolen keys on gaming marketplaces is pretty much impossible” and we want to publish it on Your website without being marked as sponsored or marked as associated with G2A. It is a transparent and just review of the problem of the stolen keys reselling.
For those of you in the United States, sponsored posts fall under the purview of the Federal Trade Commission. Specifically, they are empowered to regulate advertisements under Section 5 of the FTC Act which prohibits “deceptive advertising.” The FTC guidelines on the topic are robust and a portion of them relates to sponsored posts:
I’m a video blogger who lives in London. I create sponsored beauty videos on YouTube. The products that I promote are also sold in the U.S. Am I under any obligation to tell my viewers that I have been paid to endorse products, considering that I’m not living in the U.S.?
To the extent it is reasonably foreseeable that your YouTube videos will be seen by and affect U.S. consumers, U.S. law would apply and a disclosure would be required. Also, the U.K. and many other countries have similar laws and policies, so you’ll want to check those, too.
Unsurprisingly, the European Union also has similar language in their regulations:
ARTICLE 9 | IDENTIFICATION AND TRANSPARENCY
Marketing communications should be clearly distinguishable and when appearing in a medium containing news or editorial matter, where appropriate, labelled as such. They should not misrepresent their true commercial purpose.
If this e-mail about a G2A sponsored post is genuine, it reveals a worrying trend with a company that has been having a lot of difficulty in maintaining a good public image lately. We’ve reached out to G2A for comment and will update this story if we hear back from them.