Back in May, the whole Let's Play community across YouTube bitched about Nintendo's announcement that the videogame giant would be taking the monetization away from the creators of those Let's Plays. A few of these "wealthy" "LPers", as they're referred to, have used the power of their enormous subscriber base to try to pressure Nintendo for protecting their intellectual property. And you know what? Nintendo is completely in the right.
As every YouTube user should no doubt be aware of, there are policies, guidelines, and rules that content uploaders must follow. One of those is respecting copyright. This is basic stuff. Some Let's Players are morons and think that putting their lame-ass commentary over copyrighted material is Fair Use. Videogames are still copyrighted material, of course, and using them in a video without permission is in violation of copyright. Even if it's YOUR footage and unique gameplay path or whatever. Let's Players aren't these "artists", and of course, "artists" need appropriate permissions. You don't see Activision making works of art like Guitar Hero (videogames ARE art, after all) and putting Through the Fire and Flames without the permission because it's "Fair Use". But that's what Let's Players are doing. Developers like Neversoft NEED big publishers with massive resources and legal departments like Activision in order to handle contracts with the copyright-holders of licensed content. Let's Players think they can just flaunt the law and get away with it.
Putting copyright and Intellectual Property issues aside, the big Let's Players are misrepresenting the vast majority of people on YouTube who upload videogame videos. On my own channel, PrinceOfKoopas, I have done several Let's Plays. (And I try to be unique about 'em.)
- Mari0 Superstar Baseball Special Challenge Mode Playthrough - Not called a Let's Play, but I wouldn't do the series of videos any differently had I called it one
- Let's Play Donkey Kong Country 3! - Don't bother watching this. I had never played Donkey Kong Country 3 before this Let's Play, so it was blind. ...And awful.
- Let's Play Donkey Kong Jr. Math! - An excellent LP of an excellent game, Donkey Kong Jr. Math on the NES. Inspired both Planet Koopa's skin choices and the creation of Jessie Go Jr. Remedial Algebra, so only good things have come through this.
- Let's Play Paper Mari0 Badgeless! - Ever wondered if it was possible to play through Paper Mario badgeless? Well, I did it. This LP puts my fantastic voice-acting skills in full display.
- Let's Play Sexy Poker - Gameloft's Sexy Poker, gifted to me on WiiWare by KoopaTV's very own Kamek for the purposes of Let's Playing. ...Uh, watch it if you want. Only if you're 17 or older.
Your video is not eligible if it contains content that you didn't create or get permission from its creator to use. You need to be able to show written permission for the following video elements:So what are the big Let's Players doing? They're conducting not only unethical, immoral, but also illegal behaviour and raising a big stink about how they can't make a living off entertaining other people.
- Audio: recorded music, live performances, cover songs, background music, etc.
- Visuals: images, logos, software, video game footage, etc.
- Any other content you don't own worldwide commercial usage rights to.
Hey, you know what? Every single thing I've done on the Internet so far, I haven't made a single cent off of. And I've done a heck of a lot, and at better value than those big guys have without spending anything, either. Perhaps I'm just good at wasting my time. Either way, I don't think I'm represented by those whiny complainers at all, because I know my place, and I don't seek to violate the rights of other people. If Gameloft thinks, hey, this guy is trashing our shitty game and we want his videos taken down, then sure, I'll go ahead and take them down.
If one thinks back to the Antebellum period in America's history, you'd recognize that there was only a very small percentage of slaveowners that held the majority of slaves, yet, if you're not like me and believe that the Civil War was fought because of slavery, then you probably wonder why all of the relatively not well off people who owned one or no slaves went to fight to preserve an institution that they either weren't involved in or probably disadvantaged them. Compare slavery with Let's Plays, and an obvious analogy should appear.
There are tens of thousands of Let's Players out there, yet only a small fraction are big and have monetized their works to make a living. Yet they are trying to convince all of the so-called "peasant" Let's Players to join their cause. Maybe boycott Nintendo (stop trying to hurt Nintendo's sales, guys) and stop filming Nintendo videos and film games from other companies instead, even though Nintendo explicitly said they aren't taking videos down. Nintendo just doesn't want you to be making money off them! You know, same thing as companies like Capcom. They love fan support, just don't make money using properties that don't belong to you. The big Let's Players are just trying to obfuscate the facts and mislead you. If they actually cared about the GAMES and not their own EGOS, they wouldn't have any issue with this. My YouTube channel was all about the games.
If these Let's Players are truly as "creative" as they seem, then answer me this: How creative are they NOT using the labour of other people? Are they only creative making DERIVATIVE works?
The sensationalists over at Kotaku (even more than WE are!) are trying to claim that Nintendo is reversing their policy without actually providing a statement from Nintendo. They're just instigators. Similarly, the EVO live-streams and tournaments have now ended, and they made a whole big deal about being told by Nintendo of America that they can't stream Super Smash Bros. Melee. I'm convinced that they made the entire story up because again, there is no actual statement by Nintendo provided in either the denial or the allowance. They just wanted to hype the event by stirring up controversy. And yeah, it was WORTH IT.
|"Hey, I'm putting an APB into the location of my shirt."|
But let's deal in the truth here, not this hyper-sensationalist nonsense being purported by big Let's Players and media parties looking for more hits. And in the end, let's just play videogames for the games and value of it, not to make money. Funded, of course, by real jobs.
To see Nintendo approve of Melee at EVO 2014, click here.
Nintendo changed its policy to the Nintendo Creators Program, discussed here.
More on the sensitive gaming community defending their Let's Player overlords from criticism here.