Nintendo has begun to claim ad revenue for and apparently even shut down YouTube Let's Play videos showcasing its games, according to reports from users.
Gamasutra spoke to multiple affected parties, some of whom reported having their uploads outright removed.
"What seems to be happening so far is that Nintendo is trying to take down any recorded Nintendo games," says one source. "So far it's mostly been affecting bigger channels and mostly videos posted recently. The main problem is that no one seems to know why they're doing it or what their eventual goal is."
Nintendo addressed its recent actions in a statement obtained by Gamasutra, but the remarks contradict what some users are reporting:
As part of our on-going push to ensure Nintendo content is shared across social media channels in an appropriate and safe way, we became a YouTube partner and as such in February 2013 we registered our copyright content in the YouTube database. For most fan videos this will not result in any changes, however, for those videos featuring Nintendo-owned content, such as images or audio of a certain length, adverts will now appear at the beginning, next to or at the end of the clips.
This sort of passive action has become something of a standard practice for media rights-owners to reassert ownership of intellectual property on YouTube without outright removing the content. But nowhere in Nintendo's statement does the company suggest that it is removing videos. In fact, it says quite the opposite.
We continually want our fans to enjoy sharing Nintendo content on YouTube, and that is why, unlike other entertainment companies, we have chosen not to block people using our intellectual property.
This was apparently not the experience of a number of uploaders. "As of now most YouTubers I know aren't willing to cover any Nintendo games," one writes to us. "YouTube and most networks are very strict with strikes so most of us don't want to risk it."
Whether by monetizing the videos -- therefore denying potential ad revenue to the YouTubers playing and recording their sessions -- or taking videos down entirely, the move is sure to sour some fans. Moreover, with the rise of Twitch.tv and other gameplay showcasing formats, Let's Plays, video walkthroughs and related content are growing into a significant way by which players engage with games. Let's Plays can also be a form of performance art, as seen with the recent exhibition in Chicago.
However, YouTube's monetization policy is fairly explicit when it comes to the exhibition of video game and software footage in user videos.
Without the appropriate license from the publisher, use of video game or software user interface must be minimal. Video game content may be monetized if the associated step-by-step commentary is strictly tied to the live action being shown and provides instructional or educational value.
Videos simply showing a user playing a videogame or the use of software for extended periods of time may not be accepted for monetization.
Regardless, for some Let's Players and other gameplay videographers, Nintendo's actions leave them worried and perplexed.
"We're moving into a console generation where at least one of the new consoles is supposed to have built in streaming," said one uploader. "During this same time Nintendo does something like this. They're basically denying themselves free publicity."
Updated: some minor word choice in the above article has been adjusted for clarification.UPDATED (5/17/2013): We have followed up with sources quoted in this article and received some further clarification. It appears the video takedowns are not the result of action from Nintendo, but voluntary on the part of uploaders. Says one source:
The videos aren't actually taken down, they're just claimed by nintendo (sic). Meaning Nintendo monetizes and gets the add (sic) revenue from the videos. Most youtubers are actually taking down their own videos.