Yesterday we reported a major change for the world of YouTube gaming. After years of refusing to allow their content to be used by creators, gaming giant Nintendo is finally, slowly, embracing YouTube and its gamers. The company rolled out an affiliate program that would allow creators who register with the company to use a limited catalog of Nintendo titles in their videos. Creators who play by the rules will receive a share of the AdSense revenue those videos generate, but it will be Nintendo signing the checks and holding the purse strings rather than YouTube. Some in the gaming community have greeted the plan as a welcome compromise, but for some of gaming’s biggest names, it’s too little too late.
YouTube’s undisputed king of games, Felix “Pewdiepie” Kjellberg, has released a scathing blog post in which calls out Nintendo for being shortsighted with regard to YouTube. He points out that game makers disproportionately benefit from the exposure and free marketing provided by Let’s Plays and YouTube game reviews. He cites Minecraft, a one-man indie game that grew into a $2.5 billion property and one of the most popular games in history largely on the strength of its relationship with the YouTube community. According to Kjellberg, Nintendo’s affiliate program is a slap in the face to content creators and the contributions they’ve made to the brand. Promintent YouTube gamers like Boogie2988 and Total Biscuit have joined Kjellberg in slamming Nintendo.
YouTube Gaming Icon Boogie2988 cosigned Pewdiepie’s post via Twitter
Pewdiepie might be best known for shrieking obscenities at digital monsters, but he’s also a qualified expert in the gaming and new media industries and his insights are spot on. Nintendo may be one of the industry’s most iconic brands, but its growth has been stagnant compared to competitors who have embraced YouTube content creators as part of their strategy. The WiiU is currently the slowest-selling console on the market. By trying to shut creators out or restrict the content they can use, Nintendo not only limits its options, it also alienates the fan communities that can make or break a product. The affiliate program is a step in the right direction, but it still shows a reluctance to trust or fully engage with the YouTube gaming community, a mistake that Nintendo is likely to regret in the long run.