PewDiePie criticizes Nintendo's Let's Play plans

"This is a slap in the face to the YouTube channels"

Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, better known as YouTube gaming sensation PewDiePie, has publicly criticized Nintendo's plans to take a proportion of advertising revenue YouTubers make from Nintendo videos.

"I also think this is a slap in the face to the YouTube channels that does focus on Nintendo game exclusively. The people who have helped and showed passion for Nintendo's community are the ones left in the dirt the most," he posted on Tumblr.

"[Nintendo] have every right to do this and any other developer / publisher have as well. There'd be no "let's play" without the game to play. And we (YouTubers) are humble to this fact.

"But what they are missing out on completely is the free exposure and publicity that they get from YouTube / YouTubers. What better way to sell / market a game, than from watching someone else (that you like) playing it and enjoying themselves?"

He added that his fans often viewed his videos to see him, not to specifically view any Nintendo title he might be playing. If you're unfamiliar with PewDiePie this might sound like arrogance, but he has a huge fanbase and 34 million subscribers on YouTube. He even recently starred in South Park.

In May 2013 Nintendo actually began to place ads on videos featuring Nintendo content with no intentions of sharing the revenue, issuing this statement to Gamefront on the matter.

"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."

This year it changed its policy with The Nintendo Creators Program, which offers YouTubers 60 to 70 per cent of advertising revenue. This is in contrast to many other games publishers, who see Let's Play videos and YouTube content as a promotional boost for titles, and leave the revenue to the YouTubers. Devolver Digital is an excellent example.

"I'll still play Nintendo games that I want to play on my channel as usual. I'm lucky to be in a situation where losing ad revenue on a few videos wont matter. However, many people on YouTube are not in that situation," added PewDiePie.

"Everyone loses in this scenario that Nintendo has created, that's why I'm against it."

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Latest comments (27)

Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 6 years ago
Am I the only one to think it is a jerk move to first criticize Nintendo and then say you are going to bend over and take the hit; because lucky? Also, that counter-argument of people having a right to be freelance guerrilla marketing people on Youtube for personal gain is even more messed up than Nintendo's stance on the topic.

Now excuse me, I have an urgent desire to externally vocalize my inner feelings in front of a mirror in the style of a six year old.
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Brook Davidson Artist / 3D design 6 years ago
Well to be fair, most youtubers I would say agree with Pewd's on this one. Heck, even I agree and I don't particularly like the guy.

You should check out Boogie2988's video on the matter, he explains it real well.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 6 years ago
seen the video, it is quite the piece of work.

Naturally, Boogie just wants to defend some unnamed victims of this policy, in much the same way terrorists claim to defend victimized Muslims and police forces worldwide defend the public by shooting at it. This really is the emptiest of 21st century goto arguments and on the same level as "burn her, she is a witch".

Boogie then continues to point out that Youtube videos about Nintendo are free advertisement and add value to the game. For this reason Youtubers should be paid money. Nintendo's idea of Youtubers effectively requiring content to do their business and licensing that from Nintendo in the same way they have to license music is never mentioned. Why undermine yourself, right? There is also a notable absence of the value a Youtube video might have to the consumer, but since he never pays any money, I suppose consumer point of view can be ignored and subsequently is.

From there, we once again see the quick descent into ranting about Nintendo's attempt to control Youtubers. Even though the video mostly brings up the free advertisement argument, Boogie displays a blissful ignorance of the fact that IP owners always want to control their ads and there seems to be no other reason for those videos to exist. You cannot complain that the person you want to make an ad for is refusing to give you carte blanche. See what I mean:

In essence, Nintento's policy announcement is to big Youtube channels what nude pictures of celebrities are to the boulevard press. An easy way to get a lot of clicks while ignoring the obvious issue at hand. The underlying problem of Google being unable to differentiate between fair use of content for the sake of consumer oriented review and light entertainment advertorials is not addressed. To Google, everything is the same type of light entertainment content and they seem to have no interest in providing solutions how content on their site might be diversified to reach different interest groups. Youtube has failed to move beyond a world view in which videos are anything but licensed content which is being repackaged and resold. We blame Nintendo in the spur of the moment, but let us not forget who programmed the tools that point the way towards the road taken by Nintendo among others.
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Show all comments (27)
Brook Davidson Artist / 3D design 6 years ago
It doesn't explain why Nintendo simply can't go the same route as pretty much every other game company does. Maybe I am biased since I am a youutber as well, but hey ... I enjoy the game companies who actually work together with us, rather then against us.

This is something I believe more companies should try doing.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 6 years ago
Ah, for the days of actual journalism and not people complaining about some of their thousands to millions going to the company (and soon to be companies) they're basically working for (and not really "with" if you think about it hard enough). Oh well, I'm old and no longer "hip", so I see this differently than the folks shilling for shekels and producing this sort of content. :D
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Patrick Frost QA Project Monitor 6 years ago
Frankly I don't see the problem. This happens in business all the time.
- Essentially, people are making profit using Nintendo's IP/products.
- Nintendo wants in on that as it looks profitable (and frankly I think a barrier to entry might be a good thing).
- Nintendo creates a network and infrastructure to share that profit.

Result? Youtubers complain about not getting 100% profit; quel surprise.
Alternative? Nintendo crush all unlicensed use of their material. Period. They have a legal obligation to "defend" their ownership of their IP.
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Patrick Frost QA Project Monitor 6 years ago
Plus, let's face it, this is just like radio.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.6 years ago
There is definitely some right and some wrong on both sides. I believe the largest problem with this policy is that it only applies to YouTube when there are thousands of other individual sites that host their own videos (or audio or images, etc...) with no loss to their own ad revenue.

YouTube is targeted out of convenience rather than the letter of the law of the policy. Be consistent or null the policy.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jim Webb on 2nd February 2015 4:03am

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Shane Sweeney Academic 6 years ago
I don't know where I stand on this, but where does it all end?

A person capitalizing by audio commentating an entire film or TV series uploaded to YouTube would be infringing on copyright and be pulled down immediately, but a person narrating a let's play is more controversial, but Nintendo has definitively made up their mind about it.

Maybe this is just, especially if it involves an entire play through. I fully support the ability to freely remix and mash up content like making a music video to game play or using game play to express a point etc. But 23 hours of streaming a full play through? Maybe that does borrow to much? But what about Speed Runners?

Let's concede that the industry decides at some point that lets plays must involve revenue sharing, does this now extend to Twitch and Streaming eSports matches as well? Blizzard with StarCraft II already expect public matches to be licensed but has not extended its royalty model to streaming only events.

Should famous HearthStone players now also be taxed by Blizzard? What about physical games like Magic the Gathering or Pokemon Card matches?

I know so little about traditional sport, but what would happen if someone started their own grass roots Association football tournament around the world broadcasting the matches on YouTube or Twitch? Would FIFA the world regulator expect a cut of the profits if they became significant enough? If yes..... then I don't see why Nintendo or Blizzard or Magic the Gathering shouldn't get a cut from broadcasting "games" that aren't in the public domain.

Maybe if we decreased copyright to a reasonable length, then licensing rule sets so celebrities can entertain for public spectacle could seem quite sensible.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Shane Sweeney on 2nd February 2015 4:57am

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Patrick Frost QA Project Monitor 6 years ago
Ummm no FIFA (or the ground that hosted the event or the more local football association) would most likely sue them. Who gets to film, broadcast and advertise is heavily controller and makes a significant part of the business model.

In the case of the pro-tourneys publishers are in a perfect position to license the use of the footage on a no-charge basis. But then again can you see them taking no cut if there is revenue to be made from their IP?
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 6 years ago
Core question for commercial Youtubers:
Do they need you more than you need them?

The answer determines the direction in which money is exchanged. Football is big, Eurosport has to pay money to license broadcasting rights. But if your sport is small and you want TV coverage, you can also hire Eurosport to broadcast it, no problem.

Even non-commercial Youtubers will have to own up to the reality that the degree to which they are tolerated depends entirely on their format and how it reflects on the product. If you want to do the 10h Let's Play version of a Yahtzee review, you better find a host who won't shut you down on a whim of the developer. The type of format you are doing will relate directly to how much ingame material you require and how publishers will respond to it.
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George Williams Owner 6 years ago
Desperate actions from a company needing extra revenue from somewhere in my opinion. As highlighted by others - where will it end? Maybe a better way of doing this would be to give Nintendo(in this case) some free ad space or link to download/purchase the product.

By taking revenue just because you made the product will essentially end in Youtubers not playing their products and the world would be a worse place for that. Not all Youtubers make as much money as PewDie does so he can afford to take the hit but what about those who are much smaller and just enjoy making guides, or play games for fun...remember fun Nintendo?
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Robin Clarke Producer, AppyNation Ltd6 years ago
Yeah, it'd be nice if game developers didn't have to pay a cut to online stores to carry their games, and for radio stations to not have to pay royalties to play records. But we live in a world where a framework of intellectual property exists in law.

YouTube have used games as a goldmine of free content without IP owners complaining because it has by and large been a mutually beneficial relationship. However not everyone has benefited in the same way. Nintendo don't need to take a lenient view to monetisation of their IP for the sake of "exposure".

The YouTubers complaining come off as massively entitled and their sabre-rattling about only covering games that give them 100% of the revenue is, I think, likely to reveal that they're not the all-powerful gatekeepers that the trade press has spent the last year breathlessly hyping them up as.

If this works out for Nintendo (it will), I expect other publishers will follow suit starting with the most eager for a quick buck. Life will go on as normal, with the exception that PewDiePie might have to hoot over a few more games than before to buy their next yacht.

This is all a moot point if YouTube find something even $0.01 more effective at pushing ads than game videos, at which point the massive amounts of free promotion that they're giving to prominent Let's Players will evaporate overnight.

Watching people play games on YouTube is just the latest in a long series of pools of free entertainment for an audience with limited disposable income - shareware became too expensive to develop, piracy became too inconvenient and culturally stigmatised, browser games were largely curtailed by the actions of Apple and Adobe. YouTube and F2P are currently where it's at, but trends will move on again.
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Shane Sweeney Academic 6 years ago
As a reminder PewDiePie along with 500,000 other YouTubers including, My Grammar Sucks, My Drunk Kitchen, Kids React and Epic Rap Battles are promoted by Maker Studios who is a wholly owned subsidiary of Disney taking up a whopping 30% of all ad revenue.

Maybe in a dark dystopian future when lets players only promote their parent companies IP this will all fade away.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Shane Sweeney on 2nd February 2015 1:22pm

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Iain McNulty Person doing things 6 years ago
500,000 promoted by Maker Studios? Such hyperbole.
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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 6 years ago
Seems to me they're pretty good at promoting. Kids react just got a Nickelodeon show and hit 3 million subscribers.
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Shane Sweeney Academic 6 years ago
Thanks Iain for making me double check my facts. I am not sure how I miss read the Maker Studios Deal.

The correction is Maker Studio's promote 500,000-750,000 videos every month. The exact client number is unknown.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Shane Sweeney on 2nd February 2015 11:25pm

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Rafael Deogracias Journalist & Community Manager 6 years ago
Everything would sound kind of ok except for the fact that Nintendo will review their videos and not allow them (therefore, allowing the youtuber himself) if they don't like them.

I think that's the worst possible situation inside a sector that currently has a different kind of pressure from the one normal press has: they can criticize any game or company they want because, unless there is pressure from their "partners", they don't owe them anything.

Now, you first have to sign with Nintendo if you want to publish videos with their content. And you will not earn anything if Nintendo doesn't approve your videos.

There have been enough criticism agains the general videogames press with big sites being bought or "rescued" (literally) by major games companies, and I remember just last year a lot of buzz about Ubisoft giving tablets to the press for a Watch Dogs presentation.

Now Nintendo will acquire a major censorship position for youtubers and people simply defend poor Nintendo as having the right to do so. Great.
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Daniel Hughes PhD Researcher, Bangor University6 years ago
It's a step in the right direction, but until Nintendo drop the clause that allows them to block videos from publication if they don't approve of their content, they're not really making much progress. Share in the profit, sure, but this beta agreement effectively gives Nintendo control over what's said about them across numerous very popular Youtube channels, and that should give us all at least a little concern.
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Adam Campbell Product Manager, Azoomee6 years ago
I agree with Nintendo.

I'm glad they've taken steps to allow the use of their IP in videos and a framework to share profits.
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Robin Clarke Producer, AppyNation Ltd6 years ago
@Rafael, Daniel: That would be a worry if there were any such clause. Nintendo can kick people off the programme if they are in breach of the agreement. Criticism is not forbidden by the terms of the agreement. Nor can Nintendo force anyone to remove videos, they can just withdraw permission for them to be monetised.
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Rafael Deogracias Journalist & Community Manager 6 years ago
Well, if Nintendo can decide if you can earn money with a specific video whenever they want, I think that is a big reason to be worried.

In the past, the people criticized Ubisoft for trying to influence reviews by giving gifts (not to mention the several cases when other companies have tried to influence in similar ways). Nintendo now wants to decide which videos can be monetised, which is even worse: if I don't like what you do, you don't earn money with it.

Anyone here really thinks a youtuber will feel free to criticize a Nintendo product knowing that Nintendo has the right to stop him from monetizing the video?

We have enough influences on the press to see now how Nintendo wants control of Youtubers. It's an absolute "no way" from me.

They don't even have the minimum right to say "we supervise the videos to ensure QA" or similar, it's not them paying the Youtuber, it will be the partner. The only potential reason for Nintendo to stop a video to monetize (and therefore, not even earning money for the video THEMSELVES) is CENSORSHIP. And I don't see a reason in the world to accept that as something remotely positive.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Rafael Deogracias on 3rd February 2015 1:56pm

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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 6 years ago

I will tell you radio royalties are nowhere near 30% of revenue. An Internet radio station in addition pays extremely high royalties compared to a terrestrial broadcast. While Nintendo has a case for getting some money citing radio, they're certainly taking drastically more than their fair share.
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Daniel Hughes PhD Researcher, Bangor University6 years ago
@ Robin

Thanks for the clarification. I still have misgivings about this, but like I said, it is at least a step in the right direction. Klaus is also spot-on in saying Google themselves need to be re-evaluating how they classify content on Youtube.
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Robin Clarke Producer, AppyNation Ltd6 years ago
@Rafael - I refer you to my previous comment. The criteria for being able to monetise Nintendo's content is made quite clear in their terms.

There are many potential scenarios where Nintendo would not want their IP used in ways that bring their brand into disrepute. Criticism isn't one of them.

Being allowed to make money using other people's work is a courtesy, not a right. Withdrawing that courtesy is not censorship.
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Rafael Deogracias Journalist & Community Manager 6 years ago
@Robin Ok. I am still extremely suspicious that this won't create a huge influence on people reviewing or speaking about their games, but hopefully that won't be a case.

Clearly letting people use your games is a courtesy, I understand that. But I'm not too confident on the good intentions of reviewing all the videos.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Rafael Deogracias on 3rd February 2015 9:35pm

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Julian Toseland games podcaster/website 6 years ago
Absolutely spot on.....
if anyone, this should be a great chance for Pewdiepie to show Nintendo, you know what..."This ain't right",
don't say its bad on one hand, but then on the other, say "but ill still play and show them,", because you can take the hit...

...What he should be saying is...."well, no I don't agree with it, and I wont be showing anymore", that's a way better he is the biggest draw...he has the chance to have the biggest say.....
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