The ambivalent reaction a lot of video game companies have had to the Let’s Play phenomenon is baffling to me. From a business standpoint, nothing is better than free advertising, and a lot of Let’s Plays are just that. Five Nights At Freddy’s would not be the huge hit it is today if YouTube was not blanketed with videos of shrieking players trying to beat the thing.
Some companies, like Sega, have simply swatted Let’s Plays off servers wherever they can find them. (See the news report after this one for how well Sega’s doing saleswise.) Other companies have been chill about it. Nintendo has hovered in the middle, unsure what to think. At first they banned all streams of their games, then they allowed them all, and now they’re taking a halfway position by introducing the “Nintendo Creator’s Program.” It’s their attempt at putting Let’s Plays on their terms, which isn’t based on any form of reality.
Nintendo wants a 30% cut of all revenue a Let’s Play of one of their games generates. Well, 70% is generous enough, but they admit that percentage could change at any time, and they go on. The channel you stream their games on must be exclusively devoted to their titles (uh-huh). They’re actually limiting the number of streamable games to a pre-approved list, and none of the most popular Nintendo titles in the Let’s Play community are on that list (except for Mario Kart 8. But if you want to stream Pokemon, you’re a rebel breaking Big N’s rules).
This program has raised the ire of the Swedish King of Let’s Plays, PewDiePie of South Park 2-parter fame. In a Tumblr post, he mainly said what I said, but added “There’s just so many games out there to play. Nintendo games just went to the bottom of that list.” If they had any idea who this is and the influence he holds over the demographic they’re trying to sell to, Nintendo should be drowning him in apologetic flowers and candy upon reading these words. But it’s more likely they’re looking through their copyright archives to make sure a “PewDiePie” wasn’t a character you stomped on in a Mario game 15 years ago.