Digger deeper into Sean Fannon's recent postings on ENWorld we get the above lapse in ethical judgement. Apparently Sean hasn't bothered to read the FTC's guidelines on online advertising, but the line isn't fuzzy - it's downright distinct. If you are getting paid by another company to say nice things about their products, you must disclose it. Not doing so puts not only ENWorld in violation but also the company who paid for the nice words.
But the legal stuff isn't even what pisses me off, it's the idea that, as a consumer and reader of ENWorld, you apparently don't care about the difference between news and "outright advertising." Just so long as you are shown all of the new releases and dutifully spend your money on them, everything is awesome.
What a dismissive attitude to have towards your own community.
So, what about the linked article for the Hunters Mark KS for 5E?
Shadows of the Colossus. Dark Souls. Monster Hunter. These games - and the desire to create a specific kind of customized campaign experience for D&D 5E players - lie at the heart of Hunters Mark: Long Live the Hunt. It's a pretty spiffy merger of full roleplay tabletop gaming with the more compelling elements of action computer games. This is a magical, monster-hunting thing that Game Natural has wrought.
HUNTERS MARK is an adventure/sourcebook for D&D 5E. It contains new monsters, crafting, gear, and rules for running a party of hunters!
The Hunter’s Mark story is an adventure for level one through ten plus characters, serving as a guidebook for players and their characters while also a powerful resource for game masters to develop their craft. In addition to thirty bounties with full-color artwork, the book includes three main features: rules for bounties, crafting, and guild pets. The Hunter’s Mark provides gaming groups with an immersive, customizable experience where gamers can turn any bestiary into a monster hunting campaign.
There are any number of ways to approach a fantasy RPG, but let's face it - there's just something really cool about gathering a bunch of hardcore specialists together, each customized to their own specialties (and, hey, maybe their own special pet!), and going out into the big, dangerous world to hunt down the monsters that threaten the decent, peaceful folk.
Thrilling heroics! Fun and profit! Who's in!?!
I see this one being a serious stand-out in the crowd of 5E-oriented products, folks, and I look forward to hearing how your campaigns with this go.
Now where's my repeating crossbow?I removed some of product description from the quote above. Interesting sounding release. Sean sure sounds psyched! Does he mention anywhere in the piece that he's a paid shill for this "high level sponsor"? Of course not. Why would he? It would ruin the illusion.
There you have it folks. ENWorld, the RPG "News and Reviews" site. Where paid advertising masks as news and promotion. Sadly, there is no viable alternative for those that are looking one stop shopping for 5e and Pathfinder "news".
As I said before, there are reasons I don't accept paid sponsorships or direct advertising at The Tavern. I avoid becoming the ethical swampland that others have slipped into.