Want to Sell Your Game? Don’t Tick Off YouTubers

/// Want to Sell Your Game? Don’t Tick Off YouTubers

October 22, 2013  |  Blog

Only a few days after its release, the mind-bending indie game The Stanley Parable has sold over 100,000 copies, its developer announced in a blog post on Sunday.

100K would be a disaster for, say, the latest Call of Duty. But for this low-budget indie game, it’s a smashing success. Designer Davey Wreden believes that one of the primary reasons the game is doing so well is because he allows and even encourages people to record playthroughs of his game and post them on YouTube.

“Those guys and girls have enormous reach,” Wreden told WIRED via Skype. “When one of those people really likes it, two or three hundred thousand people were just told that this game is really fantastic.”

Such videos, often called Let’s Plays, can rack up millions of views. But they exist in murky legal territory: Do they fall under the banner of fair use, or not? Should a Let’s Play maker be able to make advertising revenue from their playthrough videos? Do Let’s Play videos have a right to exist, or do they exist only at the pleasure of the copyright holders? Companies like Nintendo and Sega have filed takedown notices or asserted rights to the advertising revenue of Let’s Play videos in the past.

Whether a company is in the legal right to do so or not, there is a compelling case that threatening the livelihood of YouTube channels is just bad business. The positive impact that can be had by some of the more popular YouTubers out there, says Wreden, is now impossible to ignore.

Instead of telling them to pull down their videos of Stanley Parable or attempting to divert their ad revenue towards himself, Wreden says that he worked hard to build a relationship with many of the most popular Let’s Players, and it seems to have paid off. Videos of top YouTube creators playing The Stanley Parable have millions of combined views, and it’s not hard to imagine that many of Stanley Parable‘s 100,000 customers found out about the game through a recommendation by their favorite YouTube channel.

Some gamemakers still don’t see the connection.

In an interview with WIRED earlier this year, popular Let’s Player Emile “Chuggaaconroy” Rosales told WIRED that Nintendo had stopped attempting to assert advertising rights on his videos. But recently, it got YouTube to take down a video made by popular YouTube personality “TotalBiscuit” because that video used a small portion of footage from the official Pokemon X trailer.

As TotalBiscuit explained in a follow-up video, such a “copyright strike” can be extremely damaging to a YouTube content creator: Not only do they lose the video in question, but three strikes gets their entire channel deleted.

In this case, TotalBiscuit was actually using the trailer for its intended purpose: He has about 1.2 million subscribers on Youtube, and he was distributing Nintendo’s promotional material to that audience.

In another fiery response posted online, TotalBiscuit called Nintendo “a bunch of plonkers.”

“I think the thing that we’ll probably do is ignore the fact that Nintendo exists,” he said.

Independent creators are deciding they can’t afford that. Will the establishment eventually do the same?

Link: Want to Sell Your Game? Don’t Tick Off YouTubers

Wired – Ryan Rigney

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