As laws adapt to the digital age, gaming influencers need to pay close attention
Maybe the Baby Boomers had their sports heroes, but today just being a hero just isn’t enough for Gen Z… especially in the gaming world. The players much prefer the title of “influencer” to be able to cash in with potential sponsors. All a gamer influencer needs to do is create popular content on any social media platform and start building an audience. Like flowers to a bee, many will flock to the influencer posts, start sharing their favorites with others, and build a following through clicks and likes.
While making money might sound like a lot of fun for a gamer influencer, there are plenty of legal regulations in the US and abroad to consider. Over the past two years, the federal government, states, and labor unions have also started to embark on the law.
At the federal level, an influencer must follow the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Guidelines, which applies to any person or pet who exerts influence and receives “something of value,” including free or discounted products. Many player influencers start out by receiving game-specific items, such as special chairs, screens, keyboards, or mice, but that quickly turns into energy drinks and clothing. If they are not “transparent” with the “giver” of these gifts, everything can crash into the player.
Since the FTC aims to protect the consumer, its rules have focused on protecting consumers from misleading advertising. Thus, if a gamer influencer misinforms a potential consumer or remains silent about the source of their giveaways, this can be considered “ deceptive ” practices and fines can ensue.
At the state level, one state for player influencers to watch out for is California, especially since many teams are headquartered in the sunny state. In 2020, California Law (AB5) was enacted, creating a new standard for which employers would classify workers. Dinged to the workers of the “gig-economy,” gamer influencers in the state will need to determine if they fall within the definition of a “gig-worker” when they sign their influencer sponsorship agreements as a. independent contractors. It should also be noted that new York and other states are seeking to adapt similar measures.
It went beyond American borders. the UK Also changes the definition of “gig-workers” which can have a direct impact on all social media influencers. More specifically, the United Kingdom Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published guidelines comparable to those of the FTC. Not to be outdone, the United Kingdom Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and their Advertising Practices Committee (CAP) have also published their social media influencer advertising standards and requirements. In March 2021, ASA released a report, revealing that “the proportion of influencers following the rules is well below” what they expected.
Finally, on the union front, the United States-based union Screen Actors Guild (SAG / AFTRA), which traditionally oversees artists / artists, has published its own guidelines for its influencer members. It currently only applies to an individual (solo influencer) who needs to be incorporated. The “Influence Agreement Fact Sheet” encourages influencers to join the union, which will provide much-needed protections for this group. Additionally, it could have a profound impact on players, beyond their social media posts.
At the platform level, each social media platform also has its own posting policies. These “branded content” rules are available on popular platforms such as YouTube, Facebookand Twitter. And, a step below the platform-level rules is the player influencer sponsorship deal. The terms and conditions of the contract must align with applicable laws and guidelines described herein, nationally and globally.
In short, a recurring theme in all of these regulations is “transparency”. Player influencers need to be clear about their paid sponsors multiple times throughout their posts. According to Jocelyn Merced, lawyer for the law firm Ogletree Deakins, an expert in employment law, shared a few words of wisdom that player influencers might want to subscribe to: “It doesn’t matter if you are an eSports competitor or just an influencer. As a gamer, it is essential to keep up with this rapidly changing regulatory landscape so that you can continue to grow your personal brand. “