Nintendo says "Let's Play" to YouTubers; announces affiliate program

Source: Nintendo

People who play videogames love to record and share gameplay on YouTube, and some of them are serious enough about it that they make their living doing it. Last year Nintendo put an end to that (at least where its games are concerned) by claiming ad revenue from videos that featured its games.

This in effect re-directed the ad revenue that the video creators had been earning to Nintendo. So before the Nintendo crackdown, a "Let's Play" video showing off a Nintendo game would've earned income for the videographer. ("Let's Play" is kind of a communal title for videos that just show off how a game plays; these videos are quite popular on YouTube.) After the crackdown, Nintendo would be earning that income instead.

While Nintendo was clearly within their rights, their actions were understandably not popular with the video creators, some of whom took down their videos rather than have Nintendo make money off of them. (Gamasutra has a good post from May 2013 that goes into more detail on the situation.)

Now the company is changing their tune to some extent, and seems ready to work with YouTubers. They've announced an affiliate program (full text can be found at Re/Code) that will allow for the sharing of revenue between Nintendo and the person who makes the video.

Interested parties will have to sign up for the program and it's not clear yet whether anyone can get into it or whether Nintendo will approve applicants on a case by case basis. It's also not clear yet how popular this new program will be; if a "Let's Play" creator can share revenue from a Mario game video with Nintendo or get all the revenue from a Let's Play video based on a non-Nintendo property, which game are they going to choose to cover?

With the Wii U struggling so badly these days, Nintendo would do well to keep the minimum percentage of ad revenue required to protect its intellectual property (Gamasutra suggests that's the reasoning behind its initial move last year) and give the lion's share to the videographer (and of course in all these cases, Google takes a cut as well). It could certainly use the free advertising of having a popular "Let's Play" maker talking up a few of its Wii U titles!

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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