Thursday, May 16, 2013

Nintendo Steals Revenue from Lets Play Videos

In a move destined to piss off gaming fans around the globe, Nintendo has officially cockblocked Let's Play videos from earning any kind of profit from the videos they produce. While Nintendo's new policy won't have Let's Players reported and removed from YouTube entirely, it will mean that people who make this videos won't be able to monetize them and that they will have their accounts reported to YouTube for potential copyright infringement, which means they might lose monetization privileges entirely. While Nintendo probably has more than one legal leg to stand on in this situation, that doesn't change the fact that it's a tremendous dick move and one that's probably going to slap back a bit harder than they might think.
Earlier today I was reading about author Paulo Coelho, who embraces the idea that Internet piracy can actually lead to greater financial returns for content creators. He believes this to be true to such an extent that operates at least one domain from which he distributes free pirated copies of his works, and regularly uploads them to Pirate Bay. Just when I was beginning to wonder if the rest of the entertainment industry understood what kind of boon having a large following of pirates could be, Nintendo pulls this back-asswords stunt, and I'm sure they won't be the last.

It seems like the big media corporations don't understand how free advertising works. People willingly spread the word about your product, many of them openly praising it, to millions of other people who are likely to go and purchase that product, and you shut that operation down?

Now, it's true that Nintendo took a different approach to it. Instead of completely shutting down the Let's Play channels they just hijacked the ad revenue, which is a move that... I can totally understand. They figure they can make up for their recent shortcomings by squeezing some extra income out of the ads on YouTube channels, and they also figure those numbers will be enough to make up for the people who watch game play videos without ever purchasing the games themselves. That's a pretty sound basis when you forget to consider that Let's Play videos are created by actual human beings and not numbers on a stats sheet.

Nintendo isn't taking into consideration the number of people who will now remove the videos they have created which feature Nintendo's content. They have not considered the number of people who will now refuse to create content featuring Nintendo games or characters. They have not considered the loss of exposure and how that will respond to the meager ad revenue they'll be generating from a handful of YouTube channels. They have not considered these things as negatives, and if they have they didn't consider them as seriously as they have.

There's a very high chance of this blowing up in Nintendo's face. From their perspective they can't lose: either they get ad revenue or they regain complete control of their IP, either way they win. But that's not how it happens. People will pull videos, which means people will not be watching them. Right there we lose the potential direct advertising to an interested party. Pulling videos will also remove any potential ad revenue generated from those videos, so that's gone too. And yeah, they'll be left with their stranglehold over their IP, but what good does that do when 200,000 people don't know about your games because nobody is advertising it to them?

Yet, doesn't Nintendo deserve compensation? After all, nobody would be particularly interested in Let's Play videos if the content was exclusively original content or independent content. It's the familiar mascots, the nostalgia of past gaming experiences, and the desire to see what other people think of games you've played that really started the whole Let's Play fad, and it's a good part of why people get into it to begin with. That's undeniable, and Let's Players are using those trademarked icons as part of their business. In any other sector there would be no questions as to whether or not this was legal.

However, legal is not always synonymous with "good idea". Alienating your fans, reducing your audience exposure, and forcing some people out of their undeniably somewhat illegitimate ways of life are all bad ideas. They're very good ideas if you want to kill your business.

But here's a good idea.

Split revenue.

Instead of taking all the ad revenue generated by Let's Play videos, companies should embrace the ever growing fan sector. Approve of it or not, that's different, but they should embrace it. If Nintendo had chosen to instead negotiate that they simply receive sixty percent of the ad revenue and the other forty still went to the Let's Play video creators, do you think there would be such a commotion? I don't. I think what would happen would be simple. Nintendo would gain a little extra green, Let's Players would still profit from their efforts, YouTube would still profit from having the videos at all, and most people would exist in relative happiness.

Nothing good will come from choking the life out of your fans. The sooner corporations learn this, the sooner we can finally move out of the hell hole our world is becoming.

No comments:

Post a Comment