Whilst this news might not affect a vast number of people, for some it’s further proof that the powers that be are not happy with the growing number of people who are earning money using their products. Namely gamers uploading gameplay footage either raw or with voice over and then earning money from advertising revenue on Youtube. For most people who are not partnered with a network such as Machinima, uploading gameplay videos often requires a random check which asks the uploader to provide proof of permission to monetize the video or proof of ownership of the content outright. This often leads to a period where the video does not run any adverts until approved. If suitable proof isn’t provided then no adverts are run alongside the video and the uploader doesn’t get paid. The process is shrouded in such a grey area, considering the nature of some videos which put more effort in than simply uploading a trailer or gameplay clip. Users can claim fair usage rights, which ultimately doesn’t always work and so leaves some uploaders earning nothing for their efforts, no matter how great or small that is. It can be debated whether it’s right or wrong for people to earn money using other peoples derivative works in context of making something unique from it, however, it seems the industry is adopting an overall tougher stance on this.
Most savvy gamers will have joined one of the major networks who take a cut from earnings but bypass the random checks which has meant no delays in earning potential as soon as a video is posted. However, that’s all about to change, as from early next year Youtube will be random checking videos regardless of whether the uploader channel is partnered with a network or not. The random check will take between 2 and 48 hours, but it’s not clear how long the process takes if suitable permissions are provided.
Networks will be able to categorize channels into groups with either a Managed, or Affiliate status, with the latter most likely being more common. Affiliates will have random videos checked as per the new rules whereas those channels who are Managed might be able to avoid it.
This news will come as quite a blow to many let’s players, vloggers and channels posting official trailers and won’t necessarily stop them, but will impact their earning potential. For some, the motive of getting paid for doing something they enjoy is a great benefit, and obviously video game footage is popular with viewers, remove the financial benefit, and it’s likely some will stop producing videos.
The industry has seen a shift in the last year towards this action, what with Nintendo taking over advertising revenue from videos featuring their content. Microsoft also posted revised terms and conditions for its content earlier this year. With the advent of the PS4 and Xbox One allowing gamers to upload videos, stream gameplay via Twitch etc. It’s clear publishers are keen on gamers posting videos, but only under their own controlled environments where financial gain for the uploader isn’t a factor. To round things off, Sony is not allowing direct video capture from the newly released PS4 until it rolls out an update…whenever that is. Times are changing for Youtubers, and perhaps channels will need to adapt when it comes to video production and produce more unique content that reaches beyond simple gameplay videos and trailers.
For those interested, here’s a list of some publishers and their stances on video game monetization.
* Activision - Does not allow derivative works per their terms. See 3. License.
* Bungie - Specifically says not to create derivative works from their software in their terms. Probably why Halo is a pain.
* Capcom - OK if you aren’t making any money. See this FAQ post on their forums.
* Codemasters - Does grant permission to monetize videos as confirmed here.
* GungHo Online - These guys do stuff like Ragnarok Online. Videos OK, monetization not OK.
* Microsoft - Videos are completely fine as long as you are not paid. They say part of this includes Halo in their rules, so Bungie may or may not still get on your case. Check out the rules here.
* Natsume - These guys are famous for Harvest Moon among others. From an email they allow videos without monetization.
* Naughty Dog - The Last of Us, Uncharted, Jak and Daxter… great games, but they don’t want you to use ANY of their footage (said via email).
* Nintendo - Encourages videos (especially Let’s Plays), but may decide to monetize your video. The exact wording is on Go Nintendo.
* NIS America - Famous for stuff like Danganrompa and Disgaea. Encourages videos, monetization not allowed.
* Rockstar / Take-Two Interactive - Encourages videos unless they are just straight cutscene footage (Let’s Plays with cutscenes OK). Pretty sure they don’t want things monetized. See the full rules here.
* Sega - Does not give any license for YouTube footage .
* SNK - They do not give license for derivative works.
* Square Enix - Does not grant individual permission to use their works, but DOES grant permission to larger entities. .
* TecmoKoei - Famous for stuff like Dead or Alive and Ninja Gaiden. Specifically in the words of the email, “TecmoKoei does allow people to make video reviews and other similar works, but we do not typically allow monetization.”
* TellTale Games - The Walking Dead, Wolf Among Us, Sam and Max… these guys have some really good stuff. Let’s Plays are definitely allowed, monetization is not. See this permission post on their forums.