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Nintendo And The Power Of Let's Plays

Recently, Nintendo announced that it would be placing its own adverts into videos of their games uploaded to YouTube by Let’s Players, essentially removing the uploader’s right to monetise the content and claim the profits for themselves. Personally, I think this is an absolutely absurd move on the part of Nintendo.

The assumption seems to be that once people watch a Let’s Play of a game, they will be less inclined to purchase, costing the publisher and developer money. This is almost entirely incorrect. With the exception of non-interactive games like Dear Esther, watching a Let’s Play is an almost entirely different experience to playing the game yourself. While watching a film or reading a book offers only one form of entertainment, video games are enjoyable to both play and watch, not to mention to added entertainment value of a Let’s Play commentary. The two experiences can be notably distinct; watching a video of Dead Space may be calm and soothing, while playing it will be tense and exciting. Without the interactivity of playing the game yourself, you’ll never be able to get the full experience of a game simply by watching a Let’s Play, which is why the suggestion that Let’s Plays turn people away from games is ludicrous.

Super Mario Bros Wii U

In fact, I would suggest the opposite. As opposed to putting people off a game, YouTube videos are perhaps the most effective form of advertising a publisher could ask for. They’ve certainly been more effective than television spots or intrusive banner adverts, in my experience. They impart information that traditional advertising simply cannot, offering lengthy stretches of gameplay footage, demonstrations of graphics and sound, and a variety of well-considered opinions by knowledgeable gamers familiar with the product. All of this is vital information to anyone interested in the game, imparted in a way that is far more immediate and personal than simple reviews or regular advertising. A well done Let’s Play will showcase a game in its brightest light to potential customers, making it far more effective than any live-action trailer will ever be.

Case in point: My favourite game of this generation is Dark Souls. Upon first renting the game, I was of course overwhelmed by its difficulty and as such, I gave up almost immediately. Some time later, I stumbled upon EpicNameBro’s YouTube channel. At the risk of sounding like an advertisement myself, I became a huge fan of his high-quality, well-edited gameplay and lore discussion videos, which convinced me to give Dark Souls another try. After renting it again, I purchased the Prepare to Die Edition brand new at full price, and I’m currently eagerly awaiting Dark Souls 2, which I intend to purchase brand new on Day 1, as well. In cases such as this, a YouTube user has greatly aided the creators of the game. Making videos of such high quality takes no small amount of effort and dedication, and such hard work that ultimately benefits the developer and publisher deserves at least some form of reward.

Luigi's Mansion 2

This is why it’s so baffling to me that Nintendo is seeking to impose any form of punishment on Let’s Players. Removing the monetisation potential from making YouTube videos will greatly reduce the incentive for people to make them. It’s already happened; YouTube user Zack Scott, a proponent of Nintendo games and consoles, has already stated that he’ll stop making videos about Nintendo games due to these policies. From now on, his 194,000 subscribers won’t be seeing what essentially amount to slickly produced advertisements for Nintendo games on a regular basis. Furthermore, since no new videos will be produced, there’s nothing for Nintendo to attach its advertisements to, resulting in a loss of exposure and a complete absence of new advertising revenue. Older videos may still be monetised, if the creators don’t remove them out of spite as I expect them to, but whichever way you look at it, Nintendo has certainly shot themselves in the foot, in this case.

Overall, it’s simply a very outdated and backwards way of thinking, on the part of Nintendo. Failing to recognise the value of a modern phenomenon like Let’s Play videos is a symptom of their lack of willingness to keep up with the times and their insistence on applying old-fashioned thinking to a changing market. Other companies have taken notice of the trend; in its eternal quest to out-do Activision, EA invited Call of Duty YouTube commentators to the Battlefield 4 reveal, in the hope that they will advertise the game in a positive way on their channels. They recognised the power and influence that notable YouTube users can have over the game community and they embraced it. They considered how to best adapt to and utilise something new, rather than attempting to twist it to suit their old ways of doing business. This kind of entrepreneurial thinking should be common sense to most large video game publishers, which is why I’m vastly disappointed that Nintendo has displayed such ineptitude.

Pikmin 3

Nintendo is not in the best shape as a company, right now. Between slow sales of the Wii U and being snubbed by third-party developers, it seems foolish on their part to employ such short-sighted measures as siphoning away ad revenue from YouTube users, as opposed to recognising their worth and working on better long-term strategies in general. Let’s just hope they see the error of their ways sooner rather than later.

SilentHeaven109 | 17th May, 2013
Kaostic's picture
I'm not sure how I feel about this. You've raised a very good point, SH, which is that they are killing their own advertising by doing this, ironically, but also, they are stopping people making money off their content. I'm not a huge fan of Let's Plays, it all depends on the commentator. But for the most part, a Let's Play is just somebody talking over the top of a game that they're playing, albeit adding some humor sometimes. I'm sort of in between what to think.
Cronos's picture
Surprised it's taken this long for it to happen.

The sooner it kills off the whole "Let's Play" fad the better.
kirkules's picture
I disagree. People are basically making money from Nintendo for very little effort. If they were editing the videos and actually doing something that required a modicum of talent then I might think differently.
Kaostic's picture
Quote:
Originally Posted by kirkules View Post
I disagree. People are basically making money from Nintendo for very little effort. If they were editing the videos and actually doing something that required a modicum of talent then I might think differently.
Some do though. Some put A LOT of effort into their videos and production value. Others film the game in terrible quality with terrible commentary. Often, I will look at the gameplay from a real person rather than what has been shown at a gameshow before I pick up a game. They are valuable, I believe, but can understand where Nintendo have come from.

I am also surprised it's taken this long, Cronos, but can't decide if it's a good or bad thing for Nintendo. The YouTubers aren't going to stop playing games, they're just going to stop playing NINTENDO games, so like SilentHeaven said, giving them less exposure to the hundred of thousand (and sometimes millions) of subscribers they have.
kirkules's picture
Nobody puts effort into a Let's Play. There is no editing involved, at all. How hard is it to sit and play a game, whilst talking?
Kaostic's picture
It's difficult to actually be entertaining. There are plenty of people I would rather watch do a Let's Play than others.
Dead Alive's picture
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaostic View Post
It's difficult to actually be entertaining. There are plenty of people I would rather watch do a Let's Play than others.
^ this. In the nicest way, let's see you put out a 40 minute video of you playing a game (good or bad game, mind) and keep my attention the entire time. Harder than it might seem.
Kaostic's picture
Good guy paradox.
Dead Alive's picture
Mojang's the same. They don't seem to have an issue with monetisation of Minecraft videos either, even from no-name YouTuber's who are just putting up videos for a laugh.
Fat Tony's picture
I am in two minds on this too. On the one hand it is entirely Nintendo's choice, and it's nicer to see them monetize the videos instead of removing them. On the other hand, some LP's are extremely good quality and the creators might deserve a bit of cash for that. Although I literally just started my own LP series sooooooo I might be slightly 100% totally a bit biased.

As for believing they don't take talent, maybe you just aren't watching the right ones? I defy anyone to not love Spoony's LP of Phantasmagoria, or ProtonJon's intelligent and thorough LP of Superman 64. I love funny Let's Plays because I'm into humor like MST3K and Rifftrax.
Dead Alive's picture
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fat Tony View Post
I defy anyone to not love Spoony's LP of Phantasmagoria
Definitely this.
Fat Tony's picture
^^Even now, after he dropped the ball so hard it left a fucking crater, I still go back and watch that sometimes.

Don't watch any of his new stuff though because it's about as funny as finding out the blister you had on your big toe was actually cancer.
Kaostic's picture
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fat Tony View Post
^^Even now, after he dropped the ball so hard it left a fucking crater, I still go back and watch that sometimes.
Link?
Dead Alive's picture
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fat Tony View Post
Don't watch any of his new stuff though because it's about as funny as finding out the blister you had on your big toe was actually cancer.
What, you don't like watching him eating food and drinking stuff?

Point taken.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaostic View Post
Link?
http://spoonyexperiment.com/category/phantasmagoria/
Fat Tony's picture
His FFXIII review should have been amazing. It's one of, if not the most disappointing games I've ever played, and he spends bloody ages ranting about miniscule and very unimportant aspects of the game instead of going after the considerably fatter issues. Going after the needles instead of the Cactuar, you might say.

And that damn dog.
Dead Alive's picture
It could have been worse, he could have dressed up as Lightning and thought it was hilarious...
Fat Tony's picture
He probably will for the end. He did in FFX-2.

His most recent video has a five minute Insano section which has the joke finished and wrapped up in ten seconds flat. Then it just. Keeps. On. Going.

Why do I still watch this guy?
Dead Alive's picture
The last of his videos I watched was him and his new lady friend eating some foreign food and drinking foreign drinks and making awkward faces when it was disgusting. That was a long video.

The last video of his I enjoyed was the Dreamcast Ring game review. Not brilliant, but more like his older stuff, mostly footage with him talking over it. His weird fans like to bitch about Scarlett changing his style, but ever since he signed with Channel Awesome his stuff went to shit with cameos, cross-overs and horrible attempts at visual comdey, where his best stuff was always just himself talking over footage. Unfortunately getting sacked for being an asshat doesn't seem to have made him improve.
Fat Tony's picture
Even The Ring video wasn't that good. In fact, I think that was the first time he really took the "drag a joke out for as long as humanly possible" concept and ran with it with the opening squelch sound.

His Ultima series was very good up until he got into the stupid costume skits which dominated most of the last few videos. I find myself skipping forward as soon as the camera cuts to one of his "characters." The only crossover he did that was really funny was the review of WARRIOR!!!!!!!!1

I don't even share his videos like I used to because it became too vulgar. Think about that for a second. I, Fat Tony, who once drafted a song called Penis Blood, won't share this guy's stuff because it's too vulgar.
Dead Alive's picture
I did like the Warrior guff, but not because it was Spoony, and 'specially not Linkara as he annoys the hell out of me; just because Warrior is legitimately insane and destrucity is hilarious. I can't imagine how uhm... foked you'd have to be to read a whole issue, but I'll try it someday if I can find one.

I can't stand his character stuff though in general, never liked any of it even at the end of the FF8 review which is usually what I'll recommend to people first as it's a very well known game. I'd say Phantasmagoria is more of a thing for Riff fans than a genuine LP considering the nature of the game. I love that but I'd imagine others would prefer FF8.

Can't say he's any more vulgar now than before, though. Not from the little I've watched, anyway. This is the guy that spend a good five minutes going on about Final Fantasy fan-porn-weird-drawings and constantly saying he was going to fap over Quistis the naughty school teacher with a whip.

EDIT: Despite him turning into a complete dick bag I'll still give him money the day I remember to buy a "I heard that, Curtis!" t-shirt.
Fat Tony's picture
I consider discussing the weird porn stuff and even talking about fapping to be less harsh than calling someone "c**t discharge" and the various other insults he uses now.

I agree with the "I heard that, Curtis!" shirt thing too.
Platinum's picture
Who is slit cheese?

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