New guidelines from the Federal Trade Commission on advertising and endorsements means that sites will now have to declare their freebies.
I'm going to level with you good folks, publishers send us games to review, in much the same way a movie studio might send a critic to the premier of a movie. Now that probably doesn't come as much of a surprise, but thanks to new guidelines from the FTC, you'll probably end up seeing a lot more declarations like that in the future.
The new guidelines would mean that sites would have to disclose any connections between the games they review and the ad revenue they receive, and have also been expanded to include bloggers in that net.
"[The new rules] address what constitutes an endorsement when the message is conveyed by bloggers or other "word-of-mouth" marketers. The revised Guides specify that while decisions will be reached on a case-by-case basis, the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement. Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service."
These guidelines are not mandatory however and if the FTC believes that a site broken the rules, the burden is on it to prove it, but, if followed, could help to counter-act claims of bias from the gaming community.