Games Pay To Be On Conan’s Clueless Gamer Segments
If you like let’s play videos, a little bit of humour and ginger talk show hosts then you’ve probably seen Conan O’Brien’s Clueless Gamer segment where he basically plays through a game like an idiot but guided by his “gaming expert.” It’s pretty entertaining and he does plenty of big games as well as some indie titles.
A source allegedly familiar with the late-night talk show’s practices said that about a quarter of the games featured on Conan’s Clueless Gamer segment were paid endorsement deals.
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Speaking with Re/code, a spokeswoman for Red Barrels, the studio behind the horror game Outlast, said that the developer paid $35,000 to be featured on the show.
“These Clueless Gamer segments are not serious reviews nor endorsements—they are strictly comedic sketches,” a show spokesman told Re/code. “We do not believe sponsorship identification is needed. . .Insofar as information regarding ad sales and product integration rates, that is privileged network information to which we are not privy.”
In that specific segment, Conan laid praise on Outlast but a lot less on Parsec Production’s Slender: The Eight Pages and Frictional Games’ Amnesia: The Dark Descent.
In an interview interview with Anderson Cooper at the Cannes Lions International Festival for Creativity O’Brien was quite candid about what he called “integration deals.” It’s not essential to pay in order to get your game featured or favourably reviewed on the segment but publishers such as Square Enix can do it and it’s a way of bringing in money for the show.
“We did one or two of them [Clueless Gamer reviews], video game companies loved it, they came to us and said, review our game please. I said I’ll do it, but I don’t want to be held back in any way. They said ‘we don’t care, as a reviewer you have no credibility,'” he joked. He also admitted that the show had an “integration” with publishers like Square Enix, meaning it paid to feature Tomb Raider on the show.
“I think this whole segment could be renamed ‘have your cake and eat it too,’ I think that’s the name of the game now,” O’Brien said, explaining that he believed he got to be funny while making the show money through these integration deals.
In light of the recent furor surrounding Microsoft and EA paying YouTubers for favourable reviews it is interesting to see this happening with talk shows as well though not awfully surprising. Now, the film industry does it too – paying to have your movie talked up on a show – but it’s a little sketchy when the some pay and others don’t. Especially considering the ones that pay do seem to be spoken more favourably of.
What are your thoughts on this?