Nintendo Launches Affiliate Program – Shares Ad Revenue With YouTubers

Nintendo has always been an incredibly unique company. They were the first to bring handheld consoles, motion control, and the beloved “D-Pad”  into the mainstream. But unfortunately, they were also one of the first major gaming companies to stifle their customer’s freedom to share their experiences on YouTube.

Just over a year ago, Nintendo was blasted for using YouTube’s Content ID system to block or claim 100% of the ad revenue on thousands of game play clips uploaded by YouTube gamers.

Now, the company has seen the error of its ways, and has taken the first step towards fixing its strained relationship with YouTube creators by announcing an affiliate program.

The program will see the company share “a portion” of the ad revenue generated by YouTube videos containing their content with the creator that uploaded it.

No details about how the program will work, or when it will launch, are available. But it is expected to use a newly introduced Content ID feature which allows copyright holders to share part of a videos ad revenue with video uploader.

You would think creators would be happy to make (some) money from Nintendo gameplay videos again, but most are confused and a little disappointed by the news – Especially because it goes against industry norms.

YouTube “Let’s Plays,” where a gamer will play through part of a game and record their experience, have grown to become some of the most popular content on YouTube. The most subscribed channel on the site, PewDiePie, is made up almost exclusively of gameplay videos. Most game publishers understand the incredible opportunity that platform offers for promotion, so they stay out of the way to make sure it’s as easy as possible for creators to share their experience with their content. The ultimate hope is that viewers will buy the game after watching someone else who enjoyed it – and the latest data suggests that’s exactly what’s happening.

Nintendo, however, has been actively stifling this activity, and for some reason they’re settling for a few measly ad dollars instead of a potentially huge boost in sales that comes from being featured in popular gameplay videos.

The company is not in a great place financially, with a 25 billion yen ($240 million) loss in the first quarter of 2014 – primarily as they struggle to re-capture the market share they’ve lost to the likes of Sony and Microsoft. While it’s understandable they may want some extra cash right now, it’s very difficult to believe they are earning more from a cut of YouTube ad revenue than they would if they opened up their platform to allow gamers to actively promote their games on YouTube.

David La Rosa

Recovering YouTube Junkie.