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Nintendo Stakes Its Claim on YouTube


Has the video-game publisher unnecessarily invaded friendly territory?

Within the past few days, Nintendo (OTCMKTS:NTDOY) has developed a partnership with YouTube (NASDAQ:GOOG) in order to protect its copyrighted content.

Utilizing YouTube's Content ID service, Nintendo can determine whether uploaded videos contain its content, either partially or entirely. If a match is found, claimants, in this case Nintendo, can determine whether they wish to make money from the video, block the video, or collect stats on it. They are also given the option to place an ad at the beginning or end of the video, according to Joystiq.

As of now, it appears that Nintendo has chosen to place advertisements into and monetize the user videos it successfully claims.

"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," stated the company to GameFront.

Legally, Nintendo is entirely within its rights to do this, but are the money and the additional advertising impressions making the right impression?

Many of the videos that have been affected by Nintendo's move are known as "Let's Plays." These generally feature a YouTuber providing commentary, whether it be tips and tricks or just a casual conversation, as he or she plays a level or section of a video game.

Should these YouTubers gain enough of a following, they can profit from their work by allowing an ad to air prior to their video. For those questioning who actually watches such videos, user Chuggaaconroy sports nearly 600,000 subscribers and over half a billion views on his almost entirely Nintendo-based Let's Play channel.

If Nintendo claims a video, however, the money that was originally going to the user who uploaded the content, will instead belong to Nintendo.

Those who had videos claimed by Nintendo were the first to report the actions, and with such massive, generally computer-savvy fan bases, news spreads fast.

Meanwhile, those who post and watch Let's Plays on YouTube are true fans. These videos aren't for the casual gamer.

Check out this tweet from user rmDJG, whose profile picture features an image from one of Nintendo's classic Zelda games.

Nintendo may be well within its rights, but stepping on the toes of some of its biggest fans is a misguided decision, destined to bring disdain. It is unlikely that stripping commentators who upload content of a source of income will sit well with those who have supported Nintendo through thick and thin.

Also, why have Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Sony (NYSE:SNE) not yet made similar moves? It seems unlikely that Nintendo has stumbled upon a gold mine and its major competitors on the console market have looked the other way.

With less-than-stellar Wii U sales to date, and an unclear future as developers like Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:EA) report that they have no games in development for Nintendo's new console, the company continues to show signs of weakness.

It has also, inadvertently or otherwise, imposed on an aspect of gaming that has existed far longer than YouTube.

Talking, arguing, and reminiscing about games with friends mean something to the gamer. With the advent of the Internet, the number of friends available to do this with has become nearly unlimited. These fans don't just come to watch videos. They want to hear about and discuss games and to be captivated by someone else's life stories.

Nintendo's product may be the universal connector, but it is the conversation the YouTuber creates that determines whether or not people come back for more.

"Video games aren't like movies or TV. Each play-through is a unique audiovisual experience," wrote Zack Scott, another YouTuber, on Facebook.

Perhaps Nintendo should consider that its claims might tarnish its reputation in the eyes of those who cherish its products most.
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