Nintendo now claiming ad revenue for YouTube Let's Play videos

"You're doing it wrong," says Thomas Was Alone creator.

Nintendo has decided to actually follow through on YouTube copyright infringement policies and is seeking ad revenue from user channels that feature Let's Play videos of the publisher's games.


"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," said Nintendo in a statement to GameFront.

"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."

What this means is that those who host Let's Play gameplay footage will no longer profit from their videos and that money will instead be diverted into Nintendo's pocket. Understandably, a lot of prevalent YouTube personalities have taken issue with this.

One such YouTube-based Let's Play content creator, Zack Scott, took to Facebook to bemoan this new policy, stating it was essentially biting the hand that feeds them since Let's Play videos often entice viewers to want to try the games they're watching. "Filing claims against LPers is backwards. Video games aren't like movies or TV. Each play-through is a unique audiovisual experience," said Scott. "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!"

"Until their claims are straightened out, I won't be playing their games. I won't because it jeopardises my channel's copyright standing and the livelihood of all LPers," he added.


Scott explained that Nintendo's using Content ID matches against copyright infringing videos, which allows the publisher to monetise said content, block it in certain countries, or even block it worldwide. If a video is blocked globally, the channel hosting it can lose its "good standing" with YouTube resulting in access to fewer features.

Thomas Was Alone developer Mike Bithell likewise stated in a blog post on Develop that this was a "phenomenally silly" move by Nintendo and "Thomas Was Alone would not have been a hit without YouTube."

Bithell noted that when famed YouTube personality Total Biscuit made a video about Thomas Was Alone he ended up selling eight times as many units as he did on launch day. "In a matter of hours. I was outselling Assassin's Creed 3 on Steam. And that's not rare, every indie who's received coverage from TB [Total Biscuit], or a Let's Play from Pewdie or NerdCubed, has a similar story."

"The guy in question is most likely not making much; even the big guys only get a tiny amount of money by international hardware company standards," Bithell continued. "Nintendo really, really doesn't need their cash. By taking these sums away, they are massively dissuading them from continuing to make content from their game."

He ultimately concluded, "Nintendo. You're doing it wrong."

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Jeffrey Matulef

Jeffrey Matulef

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Jeffrey Matulef is the best-dressed man in 1984.


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