The Federal Trade Commission approved a final settlement with Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Inc. over allegations that the company paid online “influencers” to post positive reviews of a “Lord of the Rings”-themed video game without adequately disclosing they were paid reviews.
“Warner Bros. deceived consumers during a marketing campaign for the video game ‘Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor,'” the FTC said in a release Monday, adding that the company paid online video game personalities “thousands of dollars” to pump up excitement on YouTube and social media, leading to more than 5.5 million views of sponsored videos.
The FTC also said Warner Bros. gave online influencers free copies of the game in advance and required them to promote it “in a positive way and not to disclose any bugs or glitches they found.”
Warner Bros. declined to comment on the allegations.
The final consent order, issued on Nov. 17, prohibits the company from failing to disclose paid advertising campaigns in the future and dictates that it “cannot misrepresent that sponsored content, including gameplay videos, are the objective, independent opinions of video game enthusiasts or influencers.”
The settlement was initially proposed in July.