YouTubers Run Afoul Of FTC’s Disclosure Policies With Dead Realm

Gamasutra was quick to pull the trigger on an article detailing the lack of disclosure from individuals involved with the newly released Early Access game Dead Realm. It’s a game that’s aimed as much at the Five Nights at Freddy’s fans as it is YouTubers who enjoy streaming and sharing videos of horror games.

The issue came into play when some of the publishing staff from 3Blackdot were found to be promoting their game Dead Realm on YouTube without disclosing that they have a financial vestment in the game.

Gamasutra points to the following videos from Tom “Syndicate” Cassell and Adam “SeaNanners” Montoya, noting that – at the time of publishing their article – they do not contain any disclosures about the connection between the YouTubers and the publishing studio that financed the game.

BABY KILLER (Dead Realm)

Dead Realm on Steam ► What is Dead Realm? “”Dead Realm is 3BLACKDOT’s first PC Multiplayer game and has been tested throughly to give users the best experience possible. We strongly believe that our game will give users a great experience, but we still welcome and encourage feedback.



If you enjoyed the video them be sure to Subscribe to see more videos from myself! Dead Realm is available now: I hope like the game! Its honestly a blast to play with a group of friends! Make sure you record your first time playing it and post it to YouTube so I can see your guys reactions!

[Update: I was notified that VanossGaming, real name Evan Fong, is the creative director for Dead Realm. His latest video, featured below, does not disclose that he is working on the game or has financial ties to the game.]

Dead Realm: Bounty Funny Moments – New Butcher Ghost!

Get Dead Realm HERE!: NEW Vanoss Shirts & Merch HERE: Moo Snuckel – Nogla – Cartoonz – SMii7Y – Follow me on Twitter –!/VanossGaming Facebook Page – Instagram – Please Ignore or flag spam, negative, or hateful comments.

According to the ASA’s revised guidelines and the FTC, the videos are supposed to have disclosures made audibly and visually available to audiences within the video as well as within the description on the YouTube page.

GamerGhazi, to their credit, actually did pick up on the news over on Reddit. Of course, being that this is about corruption in the media the issue didn’t gain much traction on /r/Games since the mods over their actively abet and conspire to hide corruption on Reddit’s /r/Games sub, which was revealed by the ModTalk leaks where words like “corruption” are banned.

Gamasutra attempted to reach out to the YouTubers about the disclosure but didn’t readily receive a reply. Following #GamerGate’s campaign to get the FTC to further look into enforcing disclosures for affiliate links and paid endorsements, the Federal Trade Commission updated their guidelines for disclosure in relation to their investigation into Gawker as part of a #GamerGate operation.

Dead Calm

Some of Gamasutra’s readers are interested to know if the FTC will be following through with an investigation into 3Blackdot considering that members of the company are promoting their product on YouTube without disclosure about the financial ties to said product. At the time of the publishing of this article, the FTC has not made any public comments about the issue.

While this is all fine and dandy, Gamasutra has done nothing to address the multiple counts of blacklisting that has occurred within the digital print sector of games journalism, nor have they done anything to address the multiple failures of disclosure that occurred right in the backyard of Gamasutra, which included former managing editor of Gamasutra Leigh Alexander and Gamasutra news editor Kris Ligman. What’s more is that Gamasutra seems to exercise selective journalism when it comes to addressing ethical concerns since they have yet to properly deal with the multiple conflicts of interest brought up by #GamerGate or the financially vested interests between games journalists and the subjects they cover, which has been extensively documented over the past year.

If Gamasutra really wants to address the scandals in the yard of YouTube they should first look to address and apologize for the scandals happening in their own yard first.


OAG staff consists of writers creating content about video game and digital culture.

15 thoughts on “YouTubers Run Afoul Of FTC’s Disclosure Policies With Dead Realm

  1. Gamasutra calling out unethical violations on YouTubers is like a crook ratting out another crook to the cops because they hit a bank first.

  2. The thing is fans of SeaNanners and company knew about their involvement in the development of this game. They (the YouTubers) told their fans about their upcoming project a long way back; they have mentioned their involvement with pride while let’s playing said game; and the fans have discussed with them what it was like making a game in their YouTube comments sections and elsewhere. This was no sneaky, sneaky secret. And when people not in the know found out about the connection, Seananners and company did NOT accuse people of being sexist, racist misogynists!

    As far as I am concerned, a simple disclosure as a subtitle should suffice for those previously unaware. Unlike certain segments of the gaming press/personalities the giggle monster still has my trust and patronage. However, if you do end up in multiplayer with him, always remember: #NTN.

    1. That’s very understandable for people who follow these specific YouTubers and know the ins and outs of the project, but for people who don’t follow them it’s easy to be misled into thinking that there may not be a connection.

      I agree with you that simple disclosures would help people who are unaware.

      Also, I notice that YouTubers seem far less defensive about disclosures than the old guard. They sometimes seem reluctant but are at least willing to listen and not condemn their own audience.

  3. What about VanossGaming who actually did disclose that he was involved with the game, why was he not mentioned? In his video he also mentioned Seananners having a part in the games making as well.

      1. Public isn’t the same as public awareness. There was no way anyone would have known they were the owners unless they specifically looked up the business charter.

  4. I really like VanossGaming. And I remember a video of his from about a month ago talking about his involvement in the game. Regardless I can’t help but fear is this ends up going badlly for him and the others they might end up resenting #GamerGate.

    1. It doesn’t really need to go badly for anyone. Basic disclosure solves this problem. If they don’t want to re-upload entire videos they can at least add it to the description of the videos.

      When a single video can reach millions of people they have a lot of reach and a lot of marketing sway. Just like the journos, the YouTubers also need to play by the rules before it gets too late. Pretty soon we’ll be right back in the same position as August, 2014 a decade from now if they don’t start adhering to FTC guidelines.

  5. Sorry, but native advertising is the most vile form of advertising around and every major news outlet these days seems to participate in it, including most major gaming publications and all the news networks. Just lastnight the national news (I think it was NBC?) did an “important” story in their 21 precious moments of news time about how Starbucks was changing one of the ingredients in its pumpkin spice lattee this year. Gosh, such hard hitting news! I’m sure that wasn’t paid for by Starbucks *at all*!

    Also, who gives a shit? I don’t want the government regulating who and how advertising or promotion can be done. I want reliable sources to be accountable. Let the unreliable ones be shitty and lose my business. Fuck this government regulation of shit that doesn’t need it.

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