Nintendo Hates Free Ads, Apparently

Come on, Nintendo.  I really want to root for you, I do, but when you pull shit like this, it gets very difficult to be in your corner.

Sad Pikachu
Yeah, that’s not going to work this time.

For those of you who are unaware, Nintendo has decided that anyone who makes a video using Nintendo games doesn’t deserve all the revenue that the video may generate.  They’ve decided that they deserve a substantial cut from those videos and are requiring the maker of the video to either register the video or their entire channel with Nintendo.  Nintendo will then take either 40% or 30% of the video’s ad revenue, with the creator receiving the rest.  Additionally:

Content creators can only use certain Nintendo approved games.

If a registered channel has non-Nintendo content on it, the revenue from those videos still have these rules applied.

Submitted videos may take three days to be approved by Nintendo.

Revenue from those videos may take up to 2 months to reach the creator.

There is a complete list of rules here.

So why is Nintendo doing this?  To me, it seems completely counterintuitive.  Sure, on one hand it is a way for Nintendo to make some money, and who can fault them for wanting to make some more money?  I can, definitely.  Not only is it unfair to the content creators, but it’s definitely not in the best interest of their brand and marketing.

Nintendo's true mascot.
Nintendo’s true mascot.

First off, YouTube videos of people playing video games is a wildly popular commodity.  There are thousands of channels where people play video games and talk while doing so, and Nintendo making it harder for them to use their games is going to cut down on the amount of people who see their games getting played.  That’s free advertisement, guys!  And you’re making it harder for people to make those ads for you!  Why would you do this?  I personally have bought several games because I saw the gameplay on YouTube and thought it looked like a hell of a lot of fun, and it’s hard to believe that Nintendo is so shortsighted not to see that.  Or, perhaps they are confident that people will still make content using their properties anyways (which plenty of people probably still will, sadly).

Additionally, why would they only allow certain Nintendo games?  Apparently, if I want to make a Wave Race 64 Let’s Play, I’m not allowed to do that!  Is it some weird way that they’re trying to keep their crap games off the internet?  Not that Wave Race 64 is crap, I actually really liked that game, but it’s not one of their approved games and I can’t think of a good reason why certain games have been omitted!

A tragedy that this was not included.
We won’t be seeing this anytime soon! A travesty.

Then let’s say that I want to review a certain game, and the method I want to use to review said game is to show my gameplay and comment on the good and bad things about what is happening on screen.  Is my review, which would normally be protected by Fair Use rules, now something that has to be submitted to Nintendo for approval?  If anybody knows how that would play out, please let me know.

Nintendo seems to be working under the presumption that people are coming to these channels just to see their games.  While I’m certain that some people are coming for the games, most people are watching these videos for the personalities that are playing the games.  And if the game seems cool, then all the better for it, but the voices talking over the game are generally the real draw there.

My personal favorites.
My personal favorites.

At the very least, this is a step in the right direction for the company, as in 2013 they demanded that all Nintendo videos be taken off of YouTube.  I was surprised that they would demand the removal of all that free advertisement, and disappointed in the company.  So this, at the very least, allows the videos to be back online.  But it’s still a stifling attitude that the company has taken, needlessly controlling and remarkably greedy.  They should be grateful that people want to make these videos and give them all this free advertisement!

When I see people playing the new Mario Kart 8 online and chatting with one another, it seems like the game is a blast!  But when Nintendo comes in and demands a cut, it sours the company for me.  Nintendo, I know that you’re not the behemoth that you once were in the gaming industry, but it’s not too late to abandon this ridiculous cash grab and allow these fun, funny people to make ads for you, without penalty!  Other game makers realize how these videos benefit them, why can’t you see it?

No Ad campaign.  Just sayin.
No Ad campaign. Just sayin.

Ah, whatever, Nintendo, go make another fuckin’ DS or something.

10 thoughts on “Nintendo Hates Free Ads, Apparently

  1. Honestly I’m pretty sympathetic to Nintendo here. A lot of these guys are youtube partners making money off of Nintendo games which they have not bought a license for. It’d be like if MST3K just made their episodes without getting rights. I guess you can call them greedy but it’s their IP. Reviews and such certainly fall under Fair Use, but when you’re making a public display of substantially the entire game, you’re committing extremely wanton copyright infringement. I love LPs, but I have no illusions about their illegality.


    1. Yeah, I thought you might be. I’m not saying that it’s not within their rights to do what they’re doing, because it clearly is, I am saying that it’s not intelligent. The LPs are good exposure and penalizing the personalities for wanting to use their games is a bad move. There’s a reason Nintendo’s the only one doing this, after all. Everyone else sees the benefits.


      1. I can see the argument that LPs build mindshare for their products and that they might be alienating some of their target audience. But some LPers will do relatively new games, and they’ll show the game in its entirety, which goes beyond free advertising. A lot of folks use LPs as a way to experience a game without paying for it because they can’t afford to buy it. I don’t think other companies are happy with their content being broadcast for free on youtube, but they aren’t brave enough to risk alienating their fans. Let’s be honest: no one’s going to stop buying Nintendo games.


        1. I mean, if a person watches a Let’s Play in the entirety as a substitute for playing it (especially if they can’t afford it), then Nintendo misses out on nothing anyways.
          Other companies don’t seem to mind. Microsoft and Blizzard have some lenient guidelines, I believe, but they take zero revenue. Neither company is worried that people are going to stop buying their games, either, so they could pull a Nintendo if they wanted. But Nintendo stands alone in their willingness to alienate fans and take a chunk of content creators’ money.


          1. If people don’t have access to free versions of something, then they have a greater motive to pay for it. Some people can’t afford the games, but other people just want to experience them for free, and LPs give them that option. I doubt that Blizzard and MS actually want people to make LPs of their games, but they tolerate it to build goodwill. Nintendo has never been shy about enforcing their rights. Are content creators entitled to money from what they’re doing? It is massive infringement, after all.


            1. If someone wants to play the game, then it’s really easy to go rent said game, whether they have money or not. If they choose to watch someone play the game online and give commentary and not buy the game, odds are they weren’t going to buy it anyways. And there’s a chance that watching someone play it and be entertaining while playing it could make them want to play it themselves.
              Here are the policies for Blizzard:
              and Microsoft:
              They don’t seem to have any problem with people making Let’s Plays, nor do they take any revenue share, so again, Nintendo stands alone.
              I think that if their videos earn the views, then yes, content creators should be compensated for their work and the entertainment they provide. I don’t argue that the makers of the games have rights, but they should recognize that these videos are (for the most part) made because of affection for those games and should be looked upon as advertisements for their products. And aren’t ad people compensated for their work? I really just think that Nintendo is going about this all wrong.


              1. Saying “they weren’t going to buy it anyway so it’s okay for them to basically steal it” isn’t a very good argument. Blizzard and MS’ PR lines probably aren’t indicative of how they really feel. If they could cut off LPs or take a revenue share without pissing off their fanbase, I’m sure that they would. I don’t think you can call these advertisements. A short video showcasing some gameplay highlights is an ad. Reproducing the ENTIRE game is something way different. If you made a Youtube video of you watching a movie and talking over it, would you expect to be compensated for it? Of course not. That’s why Rifftrax has to sell the commentary track separate from the film.


                1. See, but I, along with many others, many publishers included, don’t consider it stealing. Nintendo does, and I believe it’s a bad policy.
                  Speculating that Blizzard and Microsoft are lying in their statements is just that, wild speculation that goes against all the evidence to the contrary.
                  And you can call it something besides an ad, but when most people see a video and it makes them want to buy the thing showcased, I consider it an ad. Not a traditional one, but an ad none the less.
                  Finally, the point of most games is actually playing them, not watching people play them. The point of movies is to watch, the point of games is to play. Watching someone play the game is not the same as playing the game, and most publishers realize that.


  2. Because they pay so much for ads on television that reach more of its key demographic audience. Or maybe they want more free ads by taking 30 – 40% so you have to make 30 – 40% more Nintendo footage to make ends meet.

    As much as it may hate free ads, it wants money 🙂 As an evil soulless share holder I’m happy.


    1. I think that this tactic will more likely drive content creators away from using Nintendo products than anything, which would be bad for Nintendo and its shareholders in the long run, but I suppose only time will tell.


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