That Time My Thoughts Were in a Division 2 Ad
Last month, my PS4 Pro decided to spectacularly kill itself, and so I went out and bought an Xbox Division 2 bundle and replaced it.
(Incidentally, there’s an update to that PS4 Pro story where it turns out the serial numbers for the latest revision of the system aren’t even in Sony’s support database yet, but that’s a stupid tale for another time!)
I got my shiny new Xbox home, popped it open, and immediately filled one tenth of my hard drive by downloading The Division 2.
Over the next day, I played it for several hours, and had a great time. I tweeted the following:
Xbox UK reached out, and asked if they could quote me in the European marketing materials for The Division 2, and that they’d send me a vague “Xbox goody” as a way of saying thanks. My head filled with images of T-shirts and stickers with the Division 2 logo on them.
How could I say no?
In all seriousness, I vacillated for a while. Part of my whole thing as a part-time enthusiast reviewer is that I don’t seek out review copies or review hardware, I buy everything with my own money, and everything is my honest consumer opinion.
I purchased the Division 2 with my own money and the tweet was my accurate opinion on playing many hours of the game. I had intended to write a full review once I finished it. However, I decided to allow my quote to be in the marketing, and in return for accepting their “goody,” I determined that I wouldn’t ever write a full review, and I would instead write this article explaining all of it, in the interest of transparency.
I’m not really expecting any of you to be upset about any of this, but I’m declaring it so that no one tries to “call me out” on it later. I’ve had a few pleasant interactions with some of the companies I cover, but I’ve never been involved with any marketing before, and I wanted you to know that I wasn’t initially paid or gifted anything before my quote showed up in the advertising.
Here’s the video that came out, if you want to see it. I don’t know if they put it anywhere else that’s not Twitter. I think it may have run on UK TV?
The biggest surprise was that the “Xbox Goody” turned out to be a Grey/Blue Xbox One controller that arrived about a week after the ad came out, in an overnight package from the UK.
Microsoft didn’t ask me to disclose or not disclose any of this, and they were very nice to me throughout the process. They made sure I was okay with their use of my Twitter username and the part of my quote they wanted.
It was also a little nice to be recognized, honestly. I’ve been a fan of Microsoft and Ubisoft for a long time in spite of my occasional criticisms of their products.
If you decide not to trust my reviews from now on because my honest thoughts were quoted in one ad and I got a surprise free controller I didn’t know I was getting, then that’s up to you. Either way, I’m always going to go as far as I can to disclose stuff like this, in the event it ever happens again. And I’m still going to buy everything that I review. If that ever changes, you’ll see an article just like this one and detailed notes in the review itself.
I think the line between marketing and criticism has shrunk a little too much in certain online spheres, and I respect you as a reader enough that I want to be clear about the differences when I’m directly involved, so you can better make up your own mind.