A US Federal Trade Commission has settled with Warner Bros over a complaint that the company paid for famous YouTubers to provide positive coverage for Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor.
The complaint dates back to 2014 when online influencers, including top YouTuber PewDiePie, were paid up to tens of thousands of dollars to provide positive coverage of the game.
The FTC said that Warner Bros had failed to adequately disclose the nature of the content and therefore deceived consumers.
The agreement between Warner Bros and the online influencers prohibited coverage of glitches and bugs in the game and required positive influence.
"Consumers have the right to know if reviewers are providing their own opinions or paid sales pitches," Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement.
"Companies like Warner Brothers need to be straight with consumers in their online ad campaigns."
The company had allegedly instructed influencers to post the disclosure 'below the fold', meaning that many viewers did not see it.
In fact, the disclosure was only visible to those who clicked the 'Show More' option on videos.
"Warner Bros. paid each influencer from hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars, gave them a free advance-release version of the game, and told them how to promote it, according to the complaint. The FTC contends that Warner Bros. required the influencers to promote the game in a positive way and not to disclose any bugs or glitches they found," the commission said.
The FTC said that Warner Bros also required the videos to be pre-approved and then marketed them as the independent opinion of influencers.
Under the settlement agreement, Warner Bros will be required to give adequate disclosure on sponsored content and cannot misrepresent the nature of the content.