from the bzzzzt-wrong-again dept
A couple of weeks back, I brought you news that Nintendo had announced they were creating an affiliate program for YouTubers who wanted to use its content. This seemed like it might just be good news, coming on the heels of the gaming company putting the whack on tons of “let’s play” videos that covered Nintendo games, because free promotion is something to be squandered, apparently. In that post, however, I noted that there were some serious concerns about how Nintendo would approach this and whether it would attempt to exert some kind of control over video content. It turns out I massively underestimated how badly Nintendo would screw this up. The first quote in the Kotaku post contains only a hint of the problem:
“Think of it as an affiliate program where we will be providing access to executives, information, etcetera, encouraging that group of affiliates to create content on our behalf,” Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime told me when I asked him for details at E3.
Did you spot the problem? You did, didn’t you? Creating an affiliate program that generates extra access to Nintendo executives and all that isn’t a bad idea, but focusing on using that access specifically to get “affiliates to create content on our behalf” sounds exactly like the reputation-murdering I had worried about when it comes to the trusted YouTuber names. If you’re trading access to become a Nintendo sock-puppet, best of luck keeping your fan base. But it’s when the interviewer specifically asked about “let’s play” videos that Nintendo showed its true colors.
“When we unveil our affiliate program it’ll be clear how different entities can play,” Fils-Aime said. “And likely there will be a place for the kinds of examples where you reference, like, look, ‘All I want to do is capture some of the content and put it out there,’ not add a lot of value. There’ll be a role for that. The first thing we needed to do was make sure that the content that’s out there was representative of the franchises. These are our lifeblood. These are our children. We needed to make sure that the content there was reflective of what these franchises are. The next step is working with the YouTube community to provide access to information, access to executives, to help them create world-class content, leveraging our franchises.”
Note that there is no promise to actually free up all that free advertising for Nintendo in the form of “let’s play” videos. All there is are a lot of maybes, might-bes, could-bes, and, oh by the way, we don’t think those kind of videos actually have a whole lot of value anyway. Add on top of that a good old-fashioned dose of that Nintendo protectionism and we’re right back where we started. Nintendo will allow content it likes and take down content it doesn’t feel is “representative.” For the YouTube personalities that have built up their reputations as game reviewers and let’s-play makers, they shouldn’t be touching this affiliate program with a ten-foot pole.