When Nintendo recently agreed to allow YouTube creators to use their content via a partnership program, it was a big move for the company, but not big enough for some of YouTube’s top names. No less of an authority than Felix Pewdiepie called out the iconic game maker for shortchanging YouTubers. In a blog post, the most popular man on YouTube called Nintendo’s proposed affiliate program “a slap in the face” to YouTubers and reminded Nintendo of the huge impact that YouTube content had had on sales for other publishers. The sentiment was echoed by other big name gamers like Boogie2988 and Total Biscuit. However, the contempt of the gaming elite hasn’t stopped creators from signing up for the program in droves.
Since opening up the application program, Nintendo has announced that it has received a flood of requests for membership from YouTubers. In fact, the company has received so many applications that they’ve been forced to extend the turn-around time for processing. Applicants were initially told to expect a wait of 72 hours or less for their application to be considered and approved, but in light of what are apparently larger than expected numbers of applicants the company is asking for patience as it works through the backlog.
So why is Nintendo’s affiliate program so popular with YouTubers despite being rejected by the gaming elite? The answer should be obvious: the company is one of the most recognizable brands in gaming, with hundreds of popular and historic properties under their umbrella. Because the company has been slow to embrace YouTube, there’s tons of untapped content out there that’s sure to draw views from gaming audiences and Nintendo fans. Top tier creators like Pewdiepie can afford to leave those views on the table, but for more modest gamers the opportunity is likely too good to pass up.
With over 34 million subscribers, Pewdiepie isn’t under any pressure to make each and every one of his videos count. He’s free to start an unmonetized Nintendo series secure in the knowledge that his other videos will more than make up for the lost revenue. Other creators don’t have the luxury of being so discerning when it comes to opportunities. Though well intentioned, Felix’s comments and his experience on YouTube don’t line up with those of ordinary creators. When Pewdiepie opted to drop comments from his videos some expected it to be the start of a trend; but in reality very few creators followed suit, because for those without 34 million subscribers comments are an important tool for engaging with their audience.
It’s tempting, when looking for leaders in the YouTube community, to look at the top of the YouTube charts. In reality, top 200 YouTubers have a unique experience on that platform that doesn’t often translate to working-class YouTube. YouTube’s biggest success stories are often outliers when it comes to major trends within their particular communities. If you want to anticipate a trend, a quick Twitter search is often more helpful than following a few key players. The YouTube community is no longer monolithic and the stars, for the most part, are not just like us.