Gamer guide: Corporate hold on YouTube gaming videos
by Shawn Richards
Many people watch gaming-related content on YouTube – in the form of trailers, reviews or Let’s Play videos. And often, the people who make these videos make money off of them.
However, those who make the games are not too happy to have YouTubers make money off of their product.
Several companies are actually kind to those who create content for their videos, mostly because the videos are either harmless, helpful via free advertising or protected by law. One such publisher is Devolver Digital, which releases many games including the “Serious Sam” franchise.
However, many other publishers and developers think differently. This includes Wild Games Studios, creators of the widely panned “Day One: Garry’s Incident,” and Imminent Uprising, who made “The Slaughtering Grounds.” Both of these developers have used YouTube’s broken copyright system to claim that videos that criticized their specific games should be taken down and the people that created the videos be penalized.
This happened to YouTuber TotalBiscuit, who critiqued “Day One: Garry’s Incident” and Jim Sterling, who made a similar video defaming “The Slaughtering Grounds”. After a while, however, these claims were lifted and community outcry began against the developers.
Then we have Nintendo.
Nintendo recently released an affiliate program for those who want to release their videos on YouTube. In a few words, Nintendo will allow YouTubers to make videos from their games, if the creators make it explicitly known that the videos are endorsed by Nintendo and send it to Nintendo for their approval.
In return, Nintendo will reply in up to three business days and take 30-40 percent of the ad revenue. If a single video is registered, then Nintendo takes 40 percent; if an entire channel, then Nintendo takes 30 percent regardless of whether or not the video has anything to do with Nintendo. If a YouTuber does not comply with these rules, Nintendo takes all of the ad revenue.
There are multiple problems with this. First of all, the people who are making money off of these videos are not taking all of the money. YouTube takes half of the cash that is generated, and if only a single video is submitted, then the person only makes 20 percent of the earnings. If they are part of a multi-channel network (MCN), which provides legal protection as well as collaborations and advertising through other channels, then the MCN could potentially own 10-40 percent, which means that the person could not make a penny off of the content.
Also, since Nintendo would have the say on all videos before they appear, they could potentially censor unfavorable videos. If several YouTube reviews come in for a new game, Nintendo could give approval to good reviews and then refuse bad reviews. This type of censorship has happened before with other large publishers like Sega, and this could happen again.
In light of this, many YouTubers have decided to take a stand against the company. Kinda Funny, a YouTube channel consisting of former IGN members, has said that it will not show Nintendo games if they are forced to stick with those rules.
PewDiePie, the person behind the most subscribed channel on YouTube, has also stated that he will no longer play Nintendo games if he is forced to be part of this
This division between companies and consumer content-generators likely hasn’t seen its final measures. However, for the time being, there seems to be little common ground to be found between gaming corporations like Nintendo and users who hope to review and talk about their products. For now, video-makers beware. If you plan on playing Nintendo games and making Let’s Play content, strategy guides or reviews, understand the battle you might be getting into.