Nintendo has decided to get in on the “Let’s Play” and review phenomenon occurring on YouTube by instituting new draconian policies on content creators. As of now, no game publisher, with the exception of Sega on occasion, has gone to content creators of game reviews and “Let’s Play” videos to demand any revenue from them for playing their titles.
Nintendo has bucked that system by basically making harsh demands of YouTubers to basically pay them a cut of their earned YouTube revenue. This has created a lot of debate between gamers in the sense of copyright and content creation. In my opinion, what they are doing is pretty much extortion of YouTube content creators who are now earning a living from making gameplay videos and reviews.
Nintendo’s “Creators” Program has three main tenets now that is one of the most disappointing, greedy, and quite frankly, egotistical set of rules I’ve ever seen come from a game company:
- Nintendo must get a cut of ad revenue from any videos using their games. And this cut may be changed (increased or decreased) at any time.
- Nintendo has a “whitelist” of games. Any game videos on a YouTube channel that is not on this whitelist is automatically not approved for posting.
- Any channel that posts approved content can only show Nintendo content, otherwise the channel with not be registered and you’ll have to submit each video individually for approval, and then get only 60% of the revenue. So a registered YouTube channel showing only Nintendo approved video content will receive an extra 10% ad revenue per video vs. those who do not (70% vs. 60%). (source: My Nintendo News, Game Informer)
This is a direct quote from the company – “If you have already submitted your channel for registration and it includes video(s) that contain game titles outside of the list of supported games, please remove those videos from your channel within two weeks of the submission date. If the video(s) are not removed from the channel within this time, your channel will not be registered with the program. You may resubmit your channel for registration at a later date.”
A clear breakdown of what this means for YouTube content creators was done by Boogie2988, which can be viewed here
So if this set of terms aren’t bad enough, you may be wondering what the implications are if you break any of these terms? Well, for starters, Nintendo requires you to sign up for their own revenue sharing program before you can even start getting videos online. In order to get your whole channel approved, the channel cannot have anything on it but Nintendo approved content. This means that any reviews or “Let’s Play” videos created from other publishers and/or consoles must be removed from your channel. Also, you can only use games from the provided “whitelist” of games.
These terms are super strict and completely ridiculous. Compounding the issue is the penalty for not following Nintendo’s terms. If you decide to sign up for the program and break any of these rules, you will be removed from the program and Nintendo is entitled to 100% of your revenue from your videos, otherwise you can be hit with copyright claims to remove your videos from Youtube.
“These terms are super strict and completely ridiculous.”
If you decide that it’s your right to post videos anyway without signing up for the program or getting any sort of approvals, Nintendo can still come after you and hit you up for all video revenue and still hit you with copyright claims.
Another major problem with this whole policy is Nintendo’s approval process. The fact that Nintendo has to review all of the videos under this program and can decide what is approved or not means that YouTubers cannot even be genuinely critical of any titles for risk of it being denied. This creates the scenario of ONLY favorable reviews and playthroughs, despite what YouTube content creators may honestly think about the game. They will be forced to make only positive and favorable commentaries in order to get their video online.
In my opinion, I couldn’t think of a greedier and more demeaning policy and disservice to your fans than taking a cut of their work and free advertising for your games and basically dictating the terms under which they create and even the content of the videos themselves. No other publisher does this and this is completely backwards to the innovations brought on by sites like YouTube and Twitch that prompted both Sony and Microsoft to add the ability to create and share gameplay videos directly from their consoles!
This policy could set back online gameplay video content and potentially ostracize Nintendo from the YouTube gameplay video scene. Many YouTubers who were signing up for the program are now realizing the dire implications of the terms and are backing out or simply no longer showing Nintendo content. What this means for bigger content creators like Game Grumps or Smosh is unclear at this time. If other publishers decide to follow this absolutely greedy and backwards policy, it could mean the end of online gameplay videos are we know it. This could also creep its way into other services like Twitch if it catches on.
“This policy could set back online gameplay video content and potentially ostracize Nintendo from the YouTube gameplay video scene.”
There is a misconception among defenders of this policy that somehow copyright is at issue here or that creating YouTube gameplay videos or reviews is somehow not a “real job.” Let me just say now that with the internet and companies like Google creating new ways for people to not only create their own content but earn revenue off of it, that video content creation and entertainment is ABSOLUTELY a job. For most YouTubers it is an enjoyable career over slogging away at a retail or desk job in a 9-to-5 grind. This kind of backwards thinking is the equivalent of when computers started to become mainstream in businesses like engineering and design and people complaining that only “real jobs” involved working with your hands. Sorry, but a lot of us don’t want to sit behind a desk or flip burgers for a living. YouTube gives people an alternative, and one that can be lucrative depending on how hard you work at it and that you have a unique selling point that attracts viewers.
The epitome of this new system is YouTuber Pewdiepie, who is valued somewhere in the range of $12 million USD and has the highest YouTube subscriber count. Even if you hate his schtick or gimmick and don’t like “Let’s Play” videos, you can’t deny that YouTubers like Pewdiepie work very hard on their videos and it takes a lot of guts to put yourself out there on the internet and try to entertain and inform people. It takes a lot of work and skill to film and edit video content and mix down audio. This misconception plagues the defenders of this awful policy that somehow Nintendo is providing all the work and content and it is simply recorded onto a channel with no effort from the YouTuber who recorded it. Both PewDiePie and Jim Sterling have come out against Nintendo’s “Creators” program.
There is a simple solution to the problem of Nintendo’s unmitigated hubris when it comes to their customers and gamers in general, and that is to simply stop supporting them. This policy should be a wake up call to every video content creator, anyone who wants to get into video, or any gamer in general, that Nintendo is completely out of touch with the market and its customers. They think they can simply bully everyone into compliance and force favorable reviews of their content while stifling content creators.
The outrage from this should be a call to not only push Nintendo out of the arena of user created content on YouTube or on any video streaming sites in general, it should be a call to simply stop supporting them as a company until they learn that you cannot treat customers like a cash crop.
If Nintendo doesn’t like the fact of people making money off of “Let’s Play” videos, they should take it up with Google and Amazon and all the other online sites that are letting people create alternative streams of revenue for themselves and creating career freedom from it. They should not be extorting video content creators.
Nintendo can feel free to join the 21st century and simply create their own online content with video playthroughs and favorable reviews of their own titles without extorting money from others. But I guess it’s easier to reap the rewards of others and not put in the effort #BecauseItsNintendo.