Nintendo chasing after 'Lets Play' YouTube ad revenue

Written by David Hing

May 18, 2013 // 3 p.m.

Tags: #legal #marketing #nintendo #pr #youbute #youtube

Nintendo is going after Youtube "Lets Play" video creators that have uploaded videos of their titles and demanding any ad revenue they may have collected from them.

The gaming giant is registered as a Youtube partner and logged its copyright content in the Youtube database in February this year. Any ad revenue from a video featuring Nintendo content will now as a result go to Nintendo as opposed to the video's uploader.

Videos that have not had ads placed in them by their creators but that feature Nintendo content will also have ads placed in them retroactively with their revenue compensating the company.

In a statement to Gamefront, Nintendo explains that the move will affect very few fan videos and that this is a part of an initiative to make sure that its content is enjoyed in an 'appropriate and safe way', implying that the company simply wants to exercise some control over the Lets Play scene. Also, it is not looking to take these videos offline.

'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," said a Nintendo spokesperson in the statement.

In a blog post published on Develop by Thomas Was Alone developer Mike Bithell, encourages other developers not to follow Nintendo's lead as they risk cutting out a key publicity channel. He points out that the PR his title received from the Lets Play community resulted in Thomas Was Alone outselling Assassin's Creed 3 on Steam, a significant achievement for an indie title.

The amount of ad revenue earned by even the more established Lets Play video creators is unlikely to be terribly significant and will vary depending on the type of ad and the value attached to your viewership.

Youtube's ad guidelines do also state that videos which contain video game footage are not eligible for monetisation which suggests that Lets Play videos have been breaking the platforms guidelines for some time anyway.

The Lets Play community is understandably shaken by Nintendo's move. Zack Scott, a Lets Play creator with an enormous catalogue of videos that have accumulated more than 81 million views said that he will not be doing any more videos on Nintendo games while they are taking this stance.

'I think filing claims against LPers is backwards. Video games aren't like movies or TV. Each play-through is a unique audiovisual experience. 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,' said Scott on Facebook.

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