For a while it looked as if Nintendo was ready to place nicely with YouTube gamers. Perhaps recognizing the publicity value of YouTube gamers, the publisher rolled out its affiliate program last January to mixed reviews from creators. Despite taking flack from gaming heavy weights like Pewdiepie, it looked like Nintendo was at least taking small steps toward embracing streamers and YouTube content creators. However, that fragile peace took a major step backward over the weekend. Prominent creators are speaking out after another round of copyright crackdowns from the game maker.
In a video stamped “Epic Fail,” Joe “Angry Joe” Vargas lived up to his YouTube handle by taking Nintendo to task for what he characterized as the company’s “Anti YouTuber policies.” The dispute centered on a video, created by Vargas, featuring content from Mario Party 10. While Nintendo has opened the door to affiliated content creators making videos about a select list of properties, Vargas’ Mario Party 10 video is not covered by the program. The video was flagged for copyright violations, and though it can remain on YouTube Nintendo lays claim to any ad revenue it generates. Vargas, who has nearly 2 million subscribers, responded by taking down the video and announcing that he will no longer produce Nintendo content on his channel.
Though Nintendo technically has the right to restrict and monetize the use of its content on YouTube, the publisher stands virtually alone in its decision to do so aggressively. Most game makers have stepped back, seeing YouTubers and streamers as both inevitable and potentially advantageous. As Vargas himself notes, his videos garnered thousands of views, providing Nintendo with free positive promotion for its games. Independent studios like Mojang, the maker of Minecraft, have even cited YouTube gamers as a catalyst for the massive success of their games.
Many online creators have described Nintendo’s approach to YouTubers and new media in general as archaic. At the moment Nintendo is the only major publisher actively discouraging content creators from using their products. However, audiences and payouts for gaming content are steadily climbing. While that’s good news for creators, it’s also an added temptation for other game makers to dip their hands into the monetization cookie jar, a self-destructive move that could mean devastation to the YouTube gaming community.
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