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Wednesday, January 6, 2021

CAPCOM Video Policy Analysis

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - It's pretty reasonable.

Say what you will about CAPCOM USA, and I generally like them (even when it wasn't cool), but they have immaculate timing. They went and published a new Video Policy (archived here) that they knew would be controversial... at 3 AM. Besides the stealthy time of day, they published the policy on a good date, because today the news has been paying complete attention to mostly peaceful protests (with very notable rioting/an insurrection) in Washington D.C.! That's way more controversial than any video policy, so not only are people not paying attention to CAPCOM right now, but everything else looks better in comparison to the disaster going on in the Capitol. Excellent work all around, CAPCOM USA.

That said, you won't get past KoopaTV and my beady eyes, and this policy will likely be relevant to people far into the future, even if it's ignored today in favour of current events. To the few people who were paying attention to the CAPCOM Video Policy's existence (but might not have actually read it), they were saying it's the second coming of the Nintendo Creators Program. (Which I praised because I don't like YouTubers, but putting barriers on making a living off YouTube gaming videos didn't have the game design impact I was hoping for, since the game design implications of pleasing game watchers have since gotten much worse than 2015.) I've read CAPCOM's document. It's... not like that at all.

CAPCOM isn't insisting on taking big chunks of revenue share. You're allowed to monetise through video platform partner programs’ advertising, as well as through donations. You aren't allowed to offer your videos that include CAPCOM content in exchange for fees, and as written, I'd say that includes donator-exclusive videos on services like Patreon. Seems reasonable.

You can make reviews, instructions, walkthroughs, tutorials, Let's Plays, reaction videos, etc. as long as there is commentary or value added by the video maker. Apparently, Long Plays that is just game footage and nothing but game footage is a no-no.

Also a no-no: Posting game soundtrack videos. For example, the “The Dark Age of Law” music from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies is embedded several times from YouTube on many KoopaTV articles over the years (and a couple of weeks ago). Here it is again, because it's very applicable to current events:

Per the CAPCOM Video Policy, this video should be taken down. Technically, this is... fine, because unlike certain other companies, CAPCOM has actually made their soundtracks available for sale on services like Steam and Spotify. That's presumably where the YouTube upload actually comes from—dumping the soundtrack. That sort of actively harms CAPCOM's ability to monetise their soundtrack, though them doing that would harm KoopaTV's ability to embed the videos and set the mood for articles.

I also don't like that not all of their games have a music player option. While Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection has a music player that I actually went and reviewed (just the music player), stuff like Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy has no music player. I don't particularly enjoy having to buy a separate soundtrack on my computer to conveniently listen to music that I already paid for through buying the game, but I guess CAPCOM needs to make up for them constantly discounting their games somehow.

CAPCOM's policy also asks you to be considerate about spoiling people and give spoiler warnings, which is a very nice and courteous thing to be worried about. This includes footage of games before they're out, because you would've accessed it in an unauthorised manner... unless you actually were authorised by CAPCOM with, say, review copies. Also, don't trick kids watching content about E-rated games and then surprise them with AO-rated nudity. That hurts CAPCOM's brand. (It should also hurt your own brand, you perv.) Also, mods and content that could offend people are bad, which probably means you can't make a Let's Play of KoopaTV's Capture the Confederate Flag game because it uses the Dr. Light Capsule theme from Mega Man X as Robert E. Lee's leitmotif. (Which was brilliant on my part.) I'm pretty sure anything can offend anyone nowadays, so... This is a catch-all clause.

Meanwhile, if I had made a video format of my review of the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Official Casebook: Vol. 1: The Phoenix Wright Files, that might be bad. ...But I didn't, so yippee.

Basically, CAPCOM wants to uphold the benefits of Fair Use for their community, but without detrimental effects to their ability to sell content. Long plays of Ace Attorney or Ghost Trick are well-known to hurt sales of those games, based on people telling me they could just watch the games for their story rather than buying them for themselves. It's reasonable for CAPCOM to want to protect their sales that way.

Ludwig is supportive of the CAPCOM Video Policy, though he hopes that the company doesn't go and take down all of the soundtracks off YouTube, because they really are rather useful. Even if it's within CAPCOM's rights to do so. Are you supportive of CAPCOM's policy, or do you think it sucks and is unreasonable?


  1. What IS is with video game companies having a hate-on for, in particular, people posting their game soundtracks? I thought it was more a Nintendo thing but this is providing evidence to the contrary. I wonder how many others besides Nintendo and Capcom are like this, and how many, like Nintendo and apparently unlike Capcom, at minimum largely don't even provide methods of acquiring soundtracks through their own channels.

    1. The same reason music companies don't like when that happens.

    2. Then they should do like Capcom, if they're not already. When the choice is between digital piracy and not even having a theoretical possibility of paying money to get the thing you want, the company being pirated does NOT have any moral high ground.

    3. ...Uh huh.

      Well, music companies post their music for sale already, obviously. So is CAPCOM. If people take that music and offer it for free, that eats into sales, so they gotta shut that down.

      Versus Nintendo that doesn't post their music for sale and sometimes shuts it down without an alternative. *shrug*

  2. I also support this new policy, I know people are gonna completely over-exaggerate it like they always do if they haven't already, longplays don't really affect me and I've always seen them as a little dodgy and low effort. It makes me happy to know we have permission to do let's-plays and livestreams of their games.

    Great article man.

    1. One thing I do appreciate longplays for are unobstructed screenshot potential.

      Let's Plays and stuff tend to have a bunch of crap from the video creator over the screen, which hurts the ability to take screenshots.

  3. My main issues with this policy are that it puts up an unreasonable barrier to entry, it forces people to brand, and it tramples over the performance aspect of copyright.

    The policy states that if a console does not allow the sharing of footage, then it is not permissible to share raw footage. Every "retro" gamer is *immediately* impacted. It is only within the past generation or so that consoles had the in-built capacity to take videos, and even pros play old video games. Given how many people are introduced to existing franchises through previous ones, Capcom is cutting off free nostalgia advertisement.

    The worst part of this policy is how it discriminates against those with disabilities. There are plenty of people who have difficulty speaking or are completely unable to do so while playing video games, but do upload videos of their gameplay and stream. Forcing people to add a commentary on an already recorded video is bad enough, as it forces extra work on those who can't speak as they play compare to those who can talk while playing. In the case of streaming, which is real-time interaction, this is next to impossible for a one-person team. Any person who is unable to speak has to enlist extra aid just to stream due to these guidelines - something that is not required of their speaking counterparts.

    Even for those without disabilities, there is also the issue of access. Not everyone has a webcam (I don't). Not everyone has a microphone. Not everyone can design a slick-looking overlay or a transition, or any of the graphics necessary to edit footage. I can't draw and I can't design. Now Capcom is essentially forcing anyone who wants to stream to either design a logo, an overlay, and a whole social media presence.

    While some may argue these things are needed to be competitive in the streaming rat race, what this policy overlooks is that not everyone who streams or posts videos does so commercially or for the hopes of fame. There are plenty of people who are no-name and sporadic streamers who like to just put up videos of gameplay for fun or out of love of the actual product. I have no expectation of followers or money, so I let the gameplay footage speak for me, and I don't provide avenues to beg for money or subscribers. Whenever I do broadcast anything, it's because I want to showcase the game itself, not a "subscribe to Nangbaby and give up cash." I'm actually trying to help the company out in my stance. Instead, the company is forcing me to put my own stamp, which then opens me up to being within their "allowable" stamp. It's a trap.

    Then again, even for the abled and those with access, forcing a commentary requirement isn't always reasonable. In the cases of things like RPGs which have tens of hours of gameplay, one can't talk about every single action he or she takes in one of those games. That is an entire genre of games that is essentially rendered unstreamable thanks to Capcom's new policy.

    Finally, though, what is most chilling is that is that it invalidates the idea of copyrighting a performance. Since I'm playing the game, while the assets are theirs, my performance is mine. This is acknowledged by their own policy in that speedruns are okay. If that is the case, then any "run" as long as it is generated by the streamer should be permitted as a performance and thus should not need any editing. There is no need to transform the footage because one's playthrough is the highlight, and in that case editing is actually disingenuous.

    This policy only benefits people who have been streaming commercially for a while and who already have to deal with the red tape that comes with streaming commercially. For the disabled, the disadvantaged, the people who are just starting out, and the people who are not streaming for any form of currency, this new policy is a blow. Why make it harder for the people who just want to play video games?

    1. I never really thought about it like that. I can see the problems with this now that you've pointed it out, but at least it is somewhat more lenient than Nintendo's policy.

    2. You raise a lot of good points, Nangbaby.

      CAPCOM USA just posted this tweet:

      "Though this policy is newly posted, be assured these are guidelines we’ve been using already and is not meant to change how we approach creator content."

      In other words... It doesn't seem like they're... actually enforcing it to the letter, given that longplays and commentary-less stuff and soundtracks are easily accessible right now.


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