From the author: I almost felt blasphemous, making this comic. Nintendo’s a company that has given me joy in times I’m not sure I otherwise would have survived. They have a special place in my heart, y’know? I mean, heck, their characters are all over my comics, site header, office desk and walls. But I take this one personally, for reasons that should be obvious, other than the fact that I believe it’s just generally a bad move for them to claim ad revenue on Let’s Plays.
Let’s Plays are a strange sort of gray area when this topic comes up; there are a handful of perfectly valid arguments all over the field, but I’m more on the side that sees LPs as heavily divergent products from the game they might be “infringing” upon. This is, of course, in the case of videos with commentary and video edits. LPs, sans commentary, feel a little more derivative, but still have the argument of not delivering the “full experience” one might receive from playing it on their own.
I mean, yes, these games are the publisher’s IP; they own and can do whatever they want with them, including telling others what they can and can’t do with them. Having said that, there’s a symbiotic relationship here: Put simply, it’s free advertising. Massively effective, free advertising. Personally, I can’t tell you the number of times people have messaged me or commented on a video telling me that they went out and bought the game I’ve been LPing because they wanted to play along with me or that I made it look fun. Money aside, it’s just a great community to be a part of. I’ve met so many kind, cool, amazing people through my videos. It’s brought me to be part of projects much larger than myself. But at its core, it’s a means to connect and share our gaming experiences in a camaraderie-eliciting sort of way that could only before be experienced with siblings, cousins, local friends or at the occassional convention. I never had any of these opportunities as a child, so Let’s Playing has granted me something precious.
But regardless of what it means to me or you, Nintendo’s recent actions are alienating at best. And if it causes a domino effect among publishers, you can expect LPs to either undergo MASSIVE change (think small numbers of publisher-sponsored Let’s Players) or simply go extinct. Either outcome is scary, considering how many people make a living from LPs. As of this writing, I have not made a penny off of my videos, so Nintendo’s particular way of going about this doesn’t affect me (for now). But thinking people like myself are in the clear is only a comfort if every other publisher follows the same route; publishers are still completely in their own right to flat-out remove the video, don’t forget.
At any rate, I don’t find Nintendo’s defense of “Oh, but we’re not taking the videos or producers down, we’re just taking their work and profiting from it.” My own videos take anywhere from 30 minutes to upwards of 3 hours, depending on how saucy I’m feeling in regards to edits. So y’know what? No, I wouldn’t say “no” to making a few bucks down the road. To be able to justify putting more time into something I enjoy that also brings others joy? Could you imagine a world? I could. And I want to live there, one day. Don’t get me wrong: as stated above, the community is amazing and I genuinely love recording and editing videos, but I’ve got a family to take care of. A hobby is a hobby, but 10-30 hours per week is increasingly difficult to justify to the missus and other family when there are bills to pay. If fun and community could pay the bills~…
But hey, at least they’re helping with the next Sonic game.