Pewdiepie (real name Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg), creator of YouTube’s most popular channel, disagreed publicly with new policies set forth in Nintendo’s Creators Program. Polygon covered the affair by claiming Pewdiepie “attacked” Nintendo. Pewdiepie responds to the article by stating that explaining a dissenting opinion is not an “attack.”
The Four Million Dollar Man
It’s hard to imagine that there is anyone who doesn’t know about Pewdiepie by now. The owner of YouTube’s most subscribed channel by far (over 34 million subscribers), Felix is a content machine. He regularly posts two to three videos a day, all starring, edited and produced by himself, unlike some of the high-production value channels YouTube now has. For his efforts, he is well compensated—YouTube alone (without endorsements, swag sales, etc) paid Pewds over $4 million as his annual salary in ad revenue sharing, and in 2014, Pewdiepie racked up over 4 BILLION views. Not bad for a millenial from Sweden.
Suffice it to say that Felix knows his stuff when discussing YouTube revenues. So when he decided to publicly disagree with the Nintendo Creators Program, his dissension carried weight.
Nintendo’s attempt to capitalize on the Let’s Play crowd
For those of you who don’t know, the Nintendo Creators Program is an ad revenue sharing program between Nintendo and YouTubers. The program essentially pushes all ad revenue from a video featuring a Nintendo product directly to Nintendo. Then Nintendo sends a cut (estimated to be 50-60%) back to the YouTuber.
The issue here is that most developers don’t take ANY revenue from YouTubers. They see YouTube for what it is: FREE ADVERTISING. If a popular YouTuber plays your game, the common industry reaction is to allow this, since it will almost certainly lead to higher sales. Nintendo bucks this trend by attempting to pull money out of the YouTubers’ pockets AND reap the benefits of free advertising.
Pewdiepie criticized this decision in his blog post yesterday. He starts off rather sensibly by saying that Nintendo has every right to do this:
First off all, they have every right to do this and any other developer / publisher have as well. There’d be no “let’s play” without the game to play. And we (YouTubers) are humble to this fact.
But what they are missing out on completely is the free exposure and publicity that they get from YouTube / YouTubers. What better way to sell / market a game, than from watching someone else (that you like) playing it and enjoying themselves?
How about that? YouTube does essentially work like digital word-of-mouth exposure, the most potent kind. I would venture to say that any of us would be more likely to listen to a friend’s opinion of a game before purchasing than a blatant advertisement, and YouTube simulates that process nicely with a Let’s Play.
I also think this is a slap in the face to the YouTube channels that does focus on Nintendo game exclusively. The people who have helped and showed passion for Nintendo’s community are the ones left in the dirt the most.
And finally, when there’s just so many games out there to play. Nintendo games just went to the bottom of that list. Even if more publishers starts implementing this idea of sharing revenue. Then fine, there’s always going to be plenty of games out there, ready to become the next “Mienkraft” – Sounds cheesy, but it’s true.
So, you should reconsider this decision Nintendo.
Felix accurately points out that given the choice between a) playing a game and keeping 100% of the revenue, and b) playing a game and keeping 50% of the revenue, YouTubers will choose option A almost every time. He even cited TotalBiscuit’s video which also disagreed with Nintendo policy. The entire response is measured and not sensational.
So of course, Polygon sensationalized it.
Documenting disagreement as an “attack”
Polygon covered the above (archived) with the following headline “PewDiePie attacks Nintendo for YouTube cash share plan.” If you can find the “attack” in the blog post, let me know what it was. Their sensationalism continues in the opening paragraph:
Leading YouTuber PewDiePie has hit out at Nintendo for its plan to take a cut of advertising revenue from “let’s play” videos featuring its games.
Ugh. This is, of course, in keeping with Polygon’s complete lack of ethics in covering dissenting opinions, which are regularly characterized as attacks of some kind. This is the same website who employs Ben “Tetris is Commie Propaganda” Kuchera and has been the enemy of #GamerGate since Zoe Quinn was discovered to be sleeping around with gaming journalists.
Polygon’s attack article did not go unnoticed by Pewdiepie, however, and he responded on Twitter.
Even if you don’t like Pewdiepie, you have to appreciate that he didn’t take this lying down. It goes without saying that Pewdiepie also has tremendous outreach on Twitter, and could seriously do damage to Polygon’s numbers. Fans of the world’s most subscribed YouTube channel could easily depart Polygon over this, and with SJW-friendly outlets like Joystiq being shut down, Polygon can’t really afford to offend more people than they already have with their anti-#GamerGate diatribes.
Though Pewdiepie, like many e-celebs, may never step away from #GamerGate neutrality, his stand against a sensationalized story (even if it was about himself) puts him, at least philosophically, on our side. #GamerGate is, after all, about ethics in games journalism, and Polygon’s article displays a serious lack of ethics. Can this draw the most famous Youtuber in the world into the biggest gaming controversy? Time will tell.