Some games pay to appear on Conan's Clueless Gamer segments
Horror game Outlast paid $35,000 to be featured on Conan's Clueless Gamer segment.
A source 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.
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.
Conan O'Brien spoke favorably about Outlast, but less so of two other horror games that were featured in the same episode: Parsec Production's Slender: The Eight Pages and Frictional Games' Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Both Parsec and Frictional said that they did not pay to appear on the show.
Recommending it to "young people who can't see well," O'Brien also made fun of Minecraft when reviewing it on Clueless Gamer. Mojang's Daniel Kaplan said that the company did not pay to be featured on the show either.
“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.”
"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," O'Brien said in an interview with Anderson Cooper at the Cannes Lions International Festival for Creativity. "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.