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Nintendo’s Let’s Play Lockdown

Posted on the 17 May 2013 by Findthebluekey @FindTheBlueKey


Okay, come on Nintendo, you really have to work with me here. I try to defend you, I really do. I try to convince people that your decision to pull out of E3 makes sense, and that you do maintain a genuine concern for gamers. But…you’re really not making this easy for me, are you? Okay, well, lets take a look at what they’ve done now. You see, in a recent move, Nintendo has opted to crack down on Youtube content creators who are making use of Nintendo owned assets. So yes, that includes all videos of any Nintendo title. And who is going to bear the brunt of this offensive? The producers of Let’s Play videos.

Oh, don’t worry, its not all bad. Nintendo isn’t forcing creators to take down their work. They’ve simply imposed a content-ID match, simply meaning that they are entitled to all revenue from said videos. That’s better, right?……right?

Well, I guess I have little choice but to grab my torch and pitchfork with the rest of the internet…

You see, what bothers me the most about this whole decision is just how utterly perplexing it is. Even with the more absurd business decisions made by companies like EA, I can usually key in to the train of thought that they were riding on, even if it is fundamentally flawed. But in this case, I can’t even tell what station they left from.

In general, I see two main reasons why a content claim would be issued on Youtube. The first would be that you’re worried that the produced video is going to devalue your intellectual property, and the second is that you’re concerned that these videos are eating in to your profit margins.

Both of those reasons are, in this case, completely pants-on-head insane.

The devaluing of IP is the only one that I can even contrive a reason behind. It’s at least conceivable that one backwards-thinking board member believed that these videos spent all their time talking smack about Nintendo property. But even then, one would assume that the other eleven people in the room would be sensible and level headed enough to see that for the absurd notion that it is.

Let’s Plays have become a staple of gamer culture, likely coming in only behind reviews in the race for most watched gaming content. They almost universally increase a user’s enjoyment of a given game, and their appreciation of the medium as a whole. To deny the use of your content in these platforms is to deny your content’s place in the grand tapestry of gamer culture.

But wait! Nintendo isn’t outright denying the use of their content, they are just redirecting all revenue made off that content to themselves. Big difference there.

Which brings us to money, and the far more absurd of the two arguments. There are certainly a few groups out there making a living doing Let’s Plays and other forms of gaming content, but those groups are few and far between. Even if we put all the profit ever made on any Nintendo Let’s Play ever, how much of a dent would it make in the ledger of a large, multinational corporation like Nintendo? My wager is in the vicinity of bugger and all.

But some money is better than no money, right? And I’m sure those Let’s Play producers will keep all their videos online, and keep creating Nintendo content out of the goodness of their heart, right?

Nice try, Nintendo. if anything, those videos are coming down like the Berlin Wall, and I’d be sceptical of a whole lot of new Nintendo Let’s Plays coming down the pipeline. I don’t even think most content creators are even that concerned about the money. Most don’t make enough to be concerned about anyway, and are simply doing this out of love and passion for the medium.

But there is a huge difference between hours of work for minimal profits that go to you, and hours of work for minimal profits that get summarily stolen by a giant corporation.

So all Nintendo seems to be accomplishing with this is summarily ruining their reputation with content creators, viewers of content and gaming media, destroying their place in a staple of gaming culture and all for a small bit of profit that will soon dry up. I’m no businessman, but I have to wager that this isn’t a good thing.

What troubles me is that I figured this out within a couple minutes after hearing this announcement, surely someone who was part of this process drew the same conclusions I did? So either Nintendo is finally swinging for the fences of lunacy, or this is all part of some sinister plan that is yet to be revealed.

Either way, I for one welcome our new Sony overlords. At least they haven’t done anything to rile me up in the past six months.

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