Monday, February 06, 2006

Welcome to the Dumpster

I think this is going to develop into a big stink, so let's get out in front of it. From The Consumerist (
Did Nvidia Hire Online Actors to Promote Their Products?
About a week ago, The Consumerist stumbled upon claims made by various gaming websites (specifically, Elite Bastards and Beyond 3D) that graphics chip manufacturer Nvidia, in cooperation with the Arbuthnot Entertainment Group (AEG), had seeded various gaming and PC hardware enthusiast sites with pro-Nvidia shills. That is to say, that AEG would hire would hire employees to create 'personas' in various gaming communities, slowly building up the trust of other members by frequent postings unrelated to Nvidia, to later cash in that trust with message board postings talking up the positive qualities of Nvidia's products.

The smoking gun, seemingly, is on AEG's own website, on their testimonials page
AEG serves a pivotal role in helping us to build and manage online buzz for NVIDIA products. AEG’s online community outreach programs have been extraordinarily successful in improving public perception of our company and its products. So much so that we've recently expanded AEG's role into some of our other product lines. AEG plays an essential role in our marketing and public relations programs.
--Derek Perez
Public Relations Director, NVIDIA

Scumbags ahoy, captain!

Look, it's not complicated: if you have sex with someone because you like them, that's a romance. If you have sex with someone because they're paying you, that's a whore.

All right, having sex with someone you like is not necessarily a "romance," but you know what I mean.

Derek Perez's response is hilarious, though I don't think he intended it as comedy.
AEG helps us to manage the online community - we engage with some NV fans to help educate people on the web.

They are NOT hired actors!

They are NOT "shills"!

Funny--using equivocations like "manage", "engage", and "educate" in his reponse makes me think that's exactly what they are. And it's another textbook example of the non-denial denial. I didn't quote Perez's entire response, but at no point did he say "we don't pay people or give them merchandise to promote Nvidia products." That's what he'd say if this were all a big lie.

If you're telling the truth, you don't have to be vague.

Here's the forum thread over at Beyond3D if you're interested
In that thread, you'll also see that another one of AEG's customers is none other than--Micrsoft Game Studios.

There is some more generalized information about this kind of marketing over at Penny Arcade, where there were two interesting news posts last week
(here:, and here:

I'm hard-pressed to think that anyone would be totally surprised by this, but I think the degree to which it's happening is a bit of a shock--at least, it is to me. And it's going to grow exponentially, because the gaming industry is going to have a bloody, ugly year in 2006, and most of these companies would eat their own young and call it a business decision.

If any of you want to send me information about how this all works from an "insider's" view, please do.

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