Opinion: Nintendo’s Ad Revenue

It’s no secret I’m a big Nintendo fan, but recently they’ve caused a bit of controversy. YouTube is littered with let’s plays, and of course, there are thousands of Nintendo themed ones to pick and choose from. Back in February, Nintendo became a YouTube partner and put into place some regulations with their copyrights policy. We’ve seen other companies, such as SEGA, force Let’s Players to completely remove the content of their games from YouTube. As you can imagine, this didn’t last long and they have since apologized for their behavior. Well, what Nintendo decided to do is not nearly as bad if you ask me, they are claiming ad revenue and placing Nintendo ads before Let’s Play videos with Nintendo games.

Now, let’s break this down a bit. Obviously the Let’s Players are very upset about this. Many of them claim that because they won’t get ad revenue they won’t do Nintendo Let’s Plays anymore. Nintendo, on the other hand, thinks that they are being completely reasonable with their approach. It’s true, they are completely and legally within their rights, after all, all the Mario and Zelda LP’s are technically infringing on their copyrights because a Let’s Play is not, as of now, protected under fair use. Nintendo spoke to GameFront about the matter and had this to say:

“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. 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.”

In all honesty, I think Nintendo is completely in the right to do what they’re doing… to an extent. Let’s be real here, how many Let’s Plays on YouTube are done on emulators with ROMs? Even if your favorite Let’s Player might not use piracy, I’m willing to bet money that the majority of Nintendo Let’s Plays are done via computer and ROMs. This is piracy. If a Let’s Player who posts this kind of content on their site tries to complain that Nintendo is taking their ad revenue, I would tell them to take a step back and look at what they’re doing. Nintendo made no money from these pirated their game, so why would a pirate deserve any money either? It’s a broken argument.

Then I hear the threats of many Let’s Players. “Oh, Nintendo, I won’t play your game then, and since it’s free advertising you’re losing a lot!” Okay, don’t. Nintendo was fine before YouTube and I’m positive they’d be fine now. In fact, I bet many people who regularly watch Let’s Plays won’t buy the game afterwards because they’ve already seen all there is to it. You not playing Nintendo games will only result in one thing; your subscriber base asking you to do Nintendo Let’s Plays. Unless you’re known for being an Xbox, Sony or PC Let’s Player, you’ll more than likely have Nintendo game requests, and when you don’t do that you’ll only be hurting yourself. To YouTube LPers who are mad about this, I ask one question: Are you seriously playing and uploading video game content just for the money? If so, you’re not a LPer I’ll ever be interested in watching or even supporting.

Nintendo can do this, it’s their intellectual property and they deserve to receive the ad revenue from their work, but that doesn’t mean the honest Let’s Player deserves absolutely nothing. They put a lot of hard work into their videos too, why shouldn’t they get something? If Nintendo wants to remain in good standing with the YouTube community, they need to take more action than just claiming ad revenue and being done with it. They need to show the Let’s Players they want them to continue doing it by rewarding them somehow. Offer them part of the ad revenue, hire them in some way, or even small things like Club Nintendo goodies and collectables.

One idea of mine I enjoy in particular – Nintendo as of recent has been extremely direct to the general public. They’re phasing right through the journalist crowd with their Nintendo Direct videos and give new information to the whole world at the same time. Why don’t they do this with Let’s Players? Right now, they ship out early copies to media for reviews. Why not ship out a few of their titles to their partnered Let’s Players to play early and allow them to share a limited amount of content before even Journalists are allowed to? This would benefit both crowds. Nintendo gets their free advertisements and Let’s Players get to release small amounts of footage before anyone else in the world is allowed to.

Maybe I’m just a dreamer, but I would definitely like to see both parties satisfied. While on one hand, I think Nintendo is in the right, I think Let’s Players deserve compensation for their work. Hopefully in the future they come to a peaceful agreement and can work together to bring us viewers a nice taste of gameplay footage. That’s really all there is to it.

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