“Angry Joe” Vargas, a prominent YouTuber with nearly 2 million subscribers, was recently hit with a copyright strike by Nintendo for releasing a video of himself and his friends playing Mario Party 10. Angry Joe responded by pulling the offending video and stating he will no longer be creating videos featuring Nintendo games. Angry Joe took particular issue with the Nintendo Creators Program, which attempts to monetize the revenue generated from any video with Nintendo’s intellectual property in it.
Nintendo’s YouTube Cash Grab
In February, Nintendo created a revenue sharing program called the Nintendo Creators Program. This program aims to extract advertising revenue from YouTubers by forcing anyone who wishes to play or demonstrate any kind of Nintendo content to send all their advertising revenue directly to Nintendo. At that point, Nintendo sends back a cut of the revenue, estimated to be approximately 50-60%.
If this seems fine to you, consider that no other company—not Microsoft, not Sony, not even EA—does this for a very simple reason: they recognize that YouTube is free advertising.
The program was immediately criticized by the world’s most subscribed YouTuber, PewDiePie. But now it appears that Felix is not alone in his dissent. Fellow YouTuber “Angry Joe” Vargas has also run afoul of the Big N and has a copyright strike on his video as a result.
A Well Deserved Nickname
If you are unfamiliar with Angry Joe, well, the name says it all. Joe Vargas is a relentless critic of terrible video games and publishing practices, even going so far as to create a character called “Corporate Commander” to satirize the anti-consumer practices of publishers like Electronic Arts. His critiques are often done at full volume and with heavy expletive use. Below is probably my favorite Angry Joe moment, where he completely loses it while talking about Duke Nukem Forever:
Most of his best work comes from his rage, particularly when he’s playing just terrible games, and his fanbase seems to know it, because they request the worst games known to man. Terrible movie tie-ins like Star Trek, monstrosities like Aliens: Colonial Marines, and even recent misfires like Battlefield: Hardline all feed the fire of Joe’s anger and keep the audience entertained.
Due to his work in exposing nefarious business practices in the gaming industry, Joe Vargas has had a rocky relationship with publishers and developers alike, but the recent action taken by Nintendo is new territory.
In The One Video Joe Looked Happy In…
On April 4th, Angry Joe received word that a video in which he and four of his friends are playing Mario Party 10 had been flagged for copyright violation by Nintendo. One of the many problems with the Nintendo Creators Program is that only specific titles are allowed to be monetized. Any content from a game not on this approved list will immediately be flagged for takedown. The omission of Mario Party 10 is particularly strange because Mario Party 9 (Wii) and Mario Party: Island Tour (3DS) are on the approved list; if anything, it seems like Mario Party 10 not being on the approved list is some kind of administrative oversight.
That didn’t stop Nintendo from laying down the banhammer, however.
Angry Joes’ Response? Sad And Disappointed Joe
Angry Joe made a video to clarify where the Mario Party 10 video went and let his feelings be known. From 1:49:
You know, it’s not enough that I went out and I bought a, you know, three-hundred dollar console, Wii U console, it’s not enough that I bought four pro controllers at 50-60 bucks a piece, it’s not enough that I bought 40 dollar Wii-mote controllers, four of them, so that we could have this play session and share it online with people, it’s not enough that I bought four-plus games for the system, spent maybe nine-hundred dollars, that’s not enough for Nintendo, What’s enough for Nintendo is also monetizing anytime you share your content with anyone else, they must have that money as well.
Angry Joe goes on to speculate about how many times he’s recommended the Wii U, and how much money he must owe Nintendo, before coming to the obvious conclusion at 5:08:
You know what, Nintendo? Fuck you.
Nintendo Lags Behind The Industry
While I’m not exactly crying myself to sleep over the plight of someone who has managed to make a career out of playing video games and swearing like a sailor with Tourette’s, I think Joe’s anger is understandable. Nintendo is the only company that is trying to monetize this content, and while it is within their rights, it’s a bad idea to try and squeeze money from people who are extolling the virtues of your product. Legal? Yes. So are payday loans, but that doesn’t make make it any less scummy a practice to engage in.
With first PewDiePie and now Angry Joe, Nintendo has essentially handed a dissenting viewpoint to people with vast audiences. These are the people whose good opinions they should be pursuing, not alienating. While there is no corruption to fear (it wouldn’t make sense for Nintendo to alienate these personalities and try to bribe them), Nintendo has gone too far in the other direction and isn’t pursuing a business-savvy approach to the YouTube model. If this continues, look for YouTube content outside of their official channel to dry up as YouTubers cover more lucrative (read: anything else) games.