With falling revenue, a small presence at E3 and the Wii U not meeting sales figures, things don’t seem to be doing all too well at Nintendo. Last week, Nintendo made a decision that affected many gameplay channels on YouTube that has sparked a big debate and outrage among many fans. Are Nintendo losing the touch they once had on the gaming world?
Nintendo is now using YouTube’s “content ID match” to claim many Let’s Play videos featuring footage from their games. The debate started when YouTuber Zack Scott (channel: ZackScottGames) posted an open letter to Nintendo criticising their decision:
I just want to express my feelings on the matter of Nintendo claiming not just my YouTube videos, but from several LPers as well.
I’m a Nintendo fan. I waited in the cold overnight to get a Wii. I’m a 3DS ambassador. I got a Wii U at midnight when I already had one in the mail. I’ve been a Nintendo fan since the NES, and I’ve owned all of their systems.
With that said, I think filing claims against LPers is backwards. Video games aren’t like movies or TV. Each play-through is a unique audiovisual experience. When I see a film that someone else is also watching, I don’t need to see it again. When I see a game that someone else is playing, I want to play that game for myself! Sure, there may be some people who watch games rather than play them, but are those people even gamers?
My viewers watch my gameplay videos for three main reasons:
1. To hear my commentary/review.
2. To learn about the game and how to play certain parts.
3. To see how I handle and react to certain parts of the game.
Since I started my gaming channel, I’ve played a lot of games. I love Nintendo, so I’ve included their games in my line-up. But until their claims are straightened out, I won’t be playing their games. I won’t because it jeopardizes my channel’s copyright standing and the livelihood of all LPers.
So what is content ID and how does this affect people? YouTube’s Content ID service allows big companies and content publishers to automatically detect when someone has used their content in a video. They can then choose whether to remove this video or monetise it. Monetising it puts advertisements before, during or after a video and the money made goes straight to the big company. Nintendo have chosen to do this meaning that any ‘Let’s Play’ video about Mario for example will provide an income for Nintendo.
Now this is where people debate. Many have said that it is Nintendo’s game so surely they own the content and deserve the money for it. While others, including myself and most people who create these gameplay videos are completely against this. Some LPers do actually depend on the revenue on their videos. For some, its another way of making money, and for the big YouTubers they do it full time. Let’s Play videos are a great way of free advertising, it shows a company their fans enjoy the game and want to play it. For indie developers its a huge way of getting your game known. Sure, big companies like Nintendo don’t need the advertising for their games but taking away this goodwill and controlling gameplay content is very discouraging to a lot of LPers out there. For some LPers they’ll just simply move away from Nintendo games and play games from their direct competitors.
Let’s Play videos are (usually) not just gameplay clips, the LPers add their own commentary and personality into the videos, and now they are to get nothing back. Does Nintendo really need any more money?
Nintendo responded to the recent discussions with:
As part of our on-going push to ensure Nintendo content is shared across social media channels in an appropriate and safe way, we became a YouTube partner and as such in February 2013 we registered our copyright content in the YouTube database.
For most fan videos this will not result in any changes, however, for those videos featuring Nintendo-owned content, such as images or audio of a certain length, adverts will now appear at the beginning, next to or at the end of the clips.
We continually want our fans to enjoy sharing Nintendo content on YouTube, and that is why, unlike other entertainment companies, we have chosen not to block people using our intellectual property.
For more information please visit www.youtube.com/yt/copyright/
In a tweet from Mojang’s founder Markus “Notch” Persson on the subject, he stated that YouTube approached them about a very similar matter.
We had a meeting with YouTube and got told we could get a cut of all Minecraft video ad revenue. It was tempting.
— Markus Persson (@notch) May 16, 2013
The fact YouTube are reaching out to other game publishers and offering the same thing is quite frightening. What’s scarier is the fact that Notch would even find this tempting. Mojang, in my opinion, usually represent good business values like freedom of content. Imagine if YouTube approach EA with this same offer? Could it be that one day a YouTube channel has a very little choice of games to play in order to survive economically?
I hope Nintendo have a change of heart, or at least other publishers will see the criticism and learn from Nintendo’s mistakes.