Creative Director At Google Stadia Advocates Streamers Paying Game Devs And Publishers

from the ruh-roh dept

Way back in 2013, we discussed an interesting study conducted by Google looking at the effect of let's play and video game reviews has on the gaming industry. That study's conclusion was that viewers watched let's plays at a far higher clip than, say, video game trailers. Two-thirds of those views appeared to be watchers focusing on the video itself, whereas the other third were watching on secondary devices/screens in order to find tips and tricks for completing the game in question. Both were conducive to promoting the gaming industry, being a method for finding out if a game is worth buying and because gamers know they have a resource to help complete a game.

Fast forward to 2020 and Google has its own game-streaming platform that it's trying to get off of the ground. One of the folks that works at Google on the platform is Alex Hutchinson. And when it comes to let's play videos and streams, hoo boy does he have some thoughts.

Earlier today Alex Hutchinson, creative director at Typhoon Studios (bought by Google last year to make Stadia games), made a tweet suggesting that Twitch and YouTube users should be “paying the developers and publishers” of the games they stream.

And the tweet that set this shitstorm off:


The backlash online was swift and severe. So much so, in fact, that Hutchinson went on to wonder aloud why people were so mad about all of this. Several people attempted to explain to him that game streams are good for developers and publishers, not bad. Others pointed out that any licensing would go to the publisher and not the developer anyway, so Hutchinson was really just advocating for big companies to make more big money. And one streamer pointed out that Hutchinson's Twitter banner was fan-art of that very streamer, used without attribution or permission.


Meanwhile, I'm just wondering why Hutchinson doesn't just go read his own employer's 2013 study that shows just how beneficial let's plays and game-streaming is for the industry. He might also want to realize that Google's YouTube has an entire wing of it's service called YouTube Gaming, built around game-streaming.  

For what it's worth, there is no reason to think that Hutchinson is making any actual policy decisions at Google or for Stadia. And, more importantly, Google reps have already come out and said Hutchinson's tweets don't reflect the views of the company.  

But it's probably time to educate Hutchinson on the actual facts that his own employer has made clear in the past.

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Filed Under: alex hutchinson, stadia, streamers, streaming, symbiosis, video games
Companies: google


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  • identicon
    Jason, 23 Oct 2020 @ 10:54am

    I've never really gotten in to watching game streams, so forgive me if this is a dumb question.

    But, I don't get it. Is he saying that the person playing the game and streaming video of it should have bought the game? Because it sure sounds like they already did.

    Or is he saying that the person watching a video of someone else playing the game should have bought the game, in order to watch someone else play it?

    Or is he saying that the person playing the game and streaming video of it should have paid extra for the privilege of...letting someone else watch them play it? (And quite possibly produce more sales of the game.)

    None of those makes any sense, at least to me, but I'm not sure which particular flavor of nonsense he's trying to advocate.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 23 Oct 2020 @ 10:57am

      is he saying that the person playing the game and streaming video of it should have paid extra for the privilege of...letting someone else watch them play it?

      This one.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Thad (profile), 23 Oct 2020 @ 11:16am

        Re:

        Yeah, he seems to be looking at it like it's some kind of public performance right, like how buying an album or a movie doesn't grant you the right to play it in public.

        What he doesn't seem to understand is that the experience of playing a game is entirely different from the experience of watching someone else play it, the two things are not at all comparable, and one is not in any kind of competition with the other.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 24 Oct 2020 @ 4:15am

          Re: Re:

          the two things are not at all comparable, and one is not in any kind of competition with the other.

          True, but to IP maximalists it's all the same. Any use of a work to them means money should be exchanged. After all they "own" it. Therefore if they demand money, it must be paid.

          Hell, if the maximalists could, they'd hook up a monitoring device to every human in existence that automatically withdraws funds from that person's bank account whenever they thought about a protected work.

          The problem with this line of thinking is that it's incredibly self-serving for doing literally nothing. Any IP maximalist will say that any work deriving from theirs is their work, even if they contributed nothing further to the deviation beyond the already created inspiring work.

          Every other industry on earth would never allow someone to demand payment over previously compensated labor in perpetuity. To do so would fundamentally break the entire concept of compensation for labor and paying your way through life. Of which most economies are based on. After all why work for a living when you can do one thing one time and be paid indefinitely for it? That is the exact mindset of IP maximalists: Why should we keep creating works for a living, when we can just milk society indefinitely for the works we've already made?

          It's disgusting, and it's the reason why you have people like Alex Hutchinson and companies like Nintendo, *IAAs, etc. constantly trying to find new ways of leveraging IP law to milk the public.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 23 Oct 2020 @ 10:56am

    Some people put their foot in their mouth and find out they don’t like the taste. Mr. Hutchinson put his foot in his mouth and thought to himself, “I want seconds!”

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2020 @ 11:18am

    Bad takes maybe his specialty. See the comments he made in 2012 about Japanese video games and the alleged lack of criticism.

    Assassin's Creed 3 Director Says Japanese Games Get a Free Pass
    https://kotaku.com/454979998

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Moby (profile), 23 Oct 2020 @ 11:19am

    It was a gloriously stupid comment and hysterical watching the fallout.

    I routinely look for videos of folks playing games before I decide to purchase. Sometimes that is streams and other it's videos uploaded after the fact.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2020 @ 2:33pm

      Re: AH. Another rare intermittent commenter, only 17 since 2012.

      by Hombie Zunter

      40 month gap 2012 to 2015, inactive all of 2019 through Aug '20.

      As typical, just pops up as if entirely current, never a mention of gaps or changes here, the Total Paasword Reset of 2017, and most importantly, the Zombies NEVER draw attention, let alone by disagreeing, just blandly supportive, almost unnoticeable.

      Moby is astro-turfing. No one has ever been able to suggest some other conclusion.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2020 @ 2:45pm

        Re: Re: AH. Another rare intermittent commenter, only 17 since 2

        No one has ever been able to suggest some other conclusion.

        Maybe he just doesn't feel the need to comment often?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2020 @ 3:53pm

        Re: Re: AH. Another rare intermittent commenter, only 17 since 2

        are you that hungry for conspiracies or something?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2020 @ 4:22pm

        Re: Re: AH. Another rare intermittent commenter, only 17 since 2

        The other conclusion is simple: they are normal and you are not.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2020 @ 6:05pm

        Re: Re: AH. Another rare intermittent commenter, only 17 since 2

        I should start logging in again. Maybe that aneurism will finally pop and end your ceaseless stream of bullshit.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        LogicalReferee, 23 Oct 2020 @ 8:56pm

        Re: Re: AH. Another rare intermittent commenter, only 17 since 2

        "No one has ever been able to suggest some other conclusion."

        Foul, Argument from Ignorance on the field, no point.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Rocky, 24 Oct 2020 @ 3:16am

        Re: Re: AH. Another rare intermittent commenter, only 17 since 2

        Some people are thoughtful and probably don't feel the need to comment on things very often.

        Then there are people who can't stop themselves from shitting a forum up for some imaginary reason.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2020 @ 11:19am

    Hoping that everyone acts in rational self interest isn’t a great strategy. Certainly if publishers attempted to enforce it they would be legally in the right but it wouldn’t be the best PR. In an ideal world streamers actually would be licenced to use game footage anyway. Some developers and publishers include such licence in their EULAs.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 23 Oct 2020 @ 11:24am

    Great purchase there

    Yeah, the fact that he doesn't speak for Stadia is great and all, but the fact that he's the 'creative director' or has any real input on any game company is beyond baffling. Someone that clueless and short-sighted should absolutely not be in any sort of management position of a game company, as they are not just useless but actively harmful to their own industry and employers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 23 Oct 2020 @ 11:35am

      Re: Great purchase there

      Yeah, the past few days are the first time I've seen Stadia get any good press, and now that's not the story anymore, this is. Really astoundingly poor judgement.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Oct 2020 @ 4:31am

      Re: Great purchase there

      The best part about this whole thing is how it later turned out he's NOT got that job, he apparently merely "Aspires to it", which is why he goes around telling everyone it's his role. I'm sure that's a great way to endear yourself to the folks who might be able to give him that job.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 27 Oct 2020 @ 4:34am

        Re: Re: Great purchase there

        I do wonder how many annoyed emails from Tim Guy, Stadia's actual creative director, it took to get him to change his twitter bio XD

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2020 @ 11:27am

    Money makes the world go round.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ben (profile), 25 Oct 2020 @ 7:13am

      Re:

      No. The world goes around because back around 4.6 billion years ago it was accreted from many thousands (or millions, we don't actually know) of collisions of debris from a super-nova. Very few of those collisions hit precisely on the centre-line of mass of the two objects, and so all those collisions imparted various amounts of angular momentum to the resulting body, which over the aeons added up into a preferential spin of the earth. And because the debris cloud was orbiting the nascent sun with the angular momentum of the previous system, it already had a spin around the axis of that system providing the abundance of angular momentum aligned in the plane of the solar system. Hence most of the planets in the solar system spin in roughly the same orientation.
      The movement of little green pieces of paper really had and has no involvement as they're too small to have any effect upon the angular momentum of an object the size of the Earth.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dan R, 23 Oct 2020 @ 11:29am

    I think it likely that any monetary payments would likely run from the game studio to the streamer. If streamers disvalued to game brands, game studios would already be acting to limit streaming. The bigger issue with the tweat isn't that it's a dumb idea, it's that it assumes streamers would end up paying.

    Although from that perspective, protecting brand value for the streamer would be a good idea, especially if it's basically free. Company- We retain the right to end this rights grant at any time, but grant you needed rights to not worry. Streamer--OK that's essentially how it is now, thanks for the rubber stamp for the lawyers and the paranoid.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Matteste, 23 Oct 2020 @ 11:32am

    So, basically just like Link Tax.

    Go figure someone would want to have it in gaming as well.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Koby (profile), 23 Oct 2020 @ 1:11pm

      Re: So, basically just like Link Tax.

      And it's very similar to the online music system that has emerged over the years. Initially, the recording industry was outraged by people sharing music online. All sorts of ideas were bantered about on how the music producers could charge money, even though online sharing mostly increased sales through essentially free promotion. Some of them even became reality. I seem to remember something about a CD tax....

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2020 @ 6:08pm

        Re: Re: So, basically just like Link Tax.

        Same with magnetic tape. Because the only thing people do with storage media is duplicate corporate-published works. @@

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Brainulator9 (profile), 23 Oct 2020 @ 12:24pm

    Let's Plays as an exception to copyright

    Honestly, I think Let's Plays are in a freedom of panorama-esque state where, yes, they are derivative works, but their very nature means that the derivative work cannot be a substitute for the real thing. You won't get a full sculpture off of a picture of a sculpture, nor will you get the feeling of playing a game by watching someone else play it. But of course, let's get on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's case for streaming a game of Among Us, despite these sorts of videos being free advertising at worst. I'm sure the copyright maximalist policy will reinforce positive PR the same way a banana peel on the floor will make it safer to walk. Oh, well, I guess 2nd millenium-minded copyright law has never had to think about video games as a unique form of work requiring major rethinking of our laws.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 23 Oct 2020 @ 12:39pm

      No one since the advent of the Mickey Mouse Act who has a damn bit of power to make changes in copyright law has ever suggested we “rethink” copyright laws…for the better, that is. Hell, if Disney knew they could’ve gotten away with extending copyright terms again without catching the ire of far more people than the Mickey Mouse Act did, the House of Mouse would’ve done so in a heartbeat.

      Copyright made a hell of a lot of sense when the only way to copy works was either by hand or by using expensive-ass specialty tools that the average person couldn’t access. But in a world where billions of people around the world own devices capable of copying entire works in seconds (and in practically infinite numbers), copyright makes little-to-no sense.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Rekrul, 23 Oct 2020 @ 3:12pm

        Re:

        Copyright made a hell of a lot of sense when the only way to copy works was either by hand or by using expensive-ass specialty tools that the average person couldn’t access. But in a world where billions of people around the world own devices capable of copying entire works in seconds (and in practically infinite numbers), copyright makes little-to-no sense.

        I've said in the past that it's like trying to get everyone to wear airtight helmets, so some company/government can pretend that air is a finite resource and force people to pay for it.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 23 Oct 2020 @ 3:21pm

          I regret that I cannot vote this “Sad But True”.

          Also, I’m not paying Metallica for using that phrase.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Brainulator9 (profile), 24 Oct 2020 @ 2:06pm

          Re: air helmets

          This honestly reminds me too much of the 2012 Lorax film, where the city the characters live in is run by a corporation that sells air to its residents, in lieu of actual trees providing air. Making things worse is the proposal to sell bottled air, which would lead to even more pollution and thus more money given to them.

          Given Disney's lobbying for the MMPA, I can't help but feel that in both cases, the government is being used as a puppet to put stuff that should and could easily be free behind an arbitrary paywall.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2020 @ 12:43pm

      Re: Let's Plays as an exception to copyright

      Oh, well, I guess 2nd millenium-minded copyright law has never had to think about

      The Internet, and how it removes the limits on publication and copying that underlies that law.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Hombie Zunter, 23 Oct 2020 @ 2:34pm

      AH 2. After reading "Moby", new account "Brainulator9"

      caught my eye by beginning a para with "Honestly,", as does "Moby". It's not conclusive, but stands out for twice in the combined 22 comments. -- Indeed, anyone who uses "honestly" at all is likely NOT. That shows high concern for being believed, which honest people don't.

      But there's more evidence in two oddly bombastic sentences:

      Brainulator9: "Honestly, I think Let's Plays are in a freedom of panorama-esque state"

      Mody: "Overlooking the author's snobby overgeneralization of all police"

      Then, Moby writes "I just don't read Forbes anymore", mentions "GQ", both fairly elitist magazines, and Brainulator9 casually references "caselaw" site, all implying is a lawyer.

      So bombastic writing and personality consistent between two "accounts", one new, other with huge gaps, on this one TD page. Isn't that ODD?

      AH 3. Another 2 per year Zombie in prior piece!

      neost: 9 (2) Aug 11th, 2015 https://www.techdirt.com/user/neost

      THREE in one day! -- After this week taking a good swipe at Geigner whom I conclude is the Zombie Master, I begin to think his stragety is to put out more of these ODD accounts than I can keep up with!

      Now, all to do is wait and watch how the Zombies DON'T respond, also typical.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 23 Oct 2020 @ 2:50pm

        How can a corporation control and enforce a copyright when you believe corporations have no legal rights, and how do you feel about corporations using copyright to censor speech?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2020 @ 4:03pm

          Re:

          Lol, it whines about people not responding to it, but then can't answer simply questions (that require having self-consistent beliefs).

          I guess it also either can not grasp the concept people may not care about it/have better things to do, or it's so attention starved that any, negative or no, is "good".

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Rocky, 24 Oct 2020 @ 3:22am

            Re: Re:

            That was some epic projection while at the same time shutting down your own arguments.

            How can anyone be that oblivious and stupid?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2020 @ 4:23pm

        Re: AH 2. After reading "Moby", new account "Brai

        Honestly, you need help.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        lucidrenegade (profile), 23 Oct 2020 @ 6:33pm

        Re: AH 2. After reading "Moby", new account "Brainulator9"

        After all these years, you still don't get it...

        Nobody cares! LOL

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Brainulator9 (profile), 24 Oct 2020 @ 1:52pm

        Re: AH 2. After reading "Moby", new account "Brainulator9"

        I promise, I'm my own guy. This is my only profile here.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    charliebrown (profile), 23 Oct 2020 @ 2:22pm

    Contact

    Has anyone here ever tried to actually license something? It's damn near impossible. If you don't work for some big company or have a fancy lawyer, they just ignore you.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2020 @ 6:11pm

      Re: Contact

      I would think something like this would be a mechanical license. You don't really need to get anybody's response.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2020 @ 3:26pm

    That study's conclusion was that viewers watched let's plays at a far higher clip than, say, video game trailers.

    Putting aside that I have an old system that won't even run today's games, I've never liked game trailers. I want to see what a game is actually like and probably 99% of game trailers consist of FMVs and/or gameplay viewed from cinematic angles that you will never actually see during gameplay. If you're lucky, there might be a couple 1/2 second clips of actual gameplay footage interspersed throughout the trailer. Watching most of them, you'd think that the game was going to to be a full interactive movie complete with closeups, sweeping aerial shots, zooms, etc.

    If I want to see what a game actually looks like, I'll look for a let's play. If it's a game I think I might want to play at some point in the future, I'll just skim the video to avoid spoiling too much of it for myself. I'll only watch a full let's play video if it's something that I've already played myself, or that I don't have any interest in playing through.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    WarioBarker (profile), 23 Oct 2020 @ 4:49pm

    Isn't what Hutchinson's suggesting almost exactly what Stadia itself does? Players pay for each individual game for the right to play them via the streaming service, and any game can be removed if publishers or Google decide to enforce their right of removal.

    Requiring a license to livestream a game would be problematic. Right off the top of my head, some questions:

    • Would licenses be required from each development studio and publisher? What if either no longer exists?
    • For adaptations of TV shows/movies/etc., would a license be required from the property's rightsholders as well, or individuals whose likenesses and/or voices are used?
    • What about games in the public domain, or where the rightsholder is unknown, or those with rightsholders that are notoriously abrasive towards criticism?

    Hutchinson's idea would force streamers to either have to track down all the needed info to know who to pay for licenses, or just not stream games at all. Licenses would be extremely costly for the more popular streamers, absolutely cripple less-popular ones and those who livestream games as a hobby, and deter anyone who'd want to get into the field...and I think he knows that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 23 Oct 2020 @ 5:13pm

      Additional question that I don’t think he thought about:

      • How long would a license last upon purchase?

      Because if the license was a monthly renewal thing, I can’t imagine why most streamers would keep renewing a license past the first month, especially with other games always on the horizon.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2020 @ 6:15pm

    Yes, streamers who barely make enough to get by should be paying the game companies for keeping their games relevant and popular for 20 years or more.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Oct 2020 @ 7:51am

    Assumed: IP type wants the game player, who streams for others to watch, to pay extra for the privilege.

    Question: Will there be ads in the stream and who pays the license fee to the ad IP owner(s) allowing said ads to be within your stream?

    btw, there must be some urology joke in here somewhere.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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