Let’s Play With Nintendo’s Hypocrisy

May 18, 2013 | By | 19 Comments

Earlier this week, Nintendo started treading shaky ground with YouTube content creators. Having become an official YouTube partner in February of this year, they’re allowed to file “content ID matches” for videos using footage of their games, which puts their advertising in front of them; any money that the video creator was making on their content now goes to Nintendo instead.

The company offered the following statement to GameFront regarding the matter:

“As part of our on-going push to ensure Nintendo content is shared across social media channels in an appropriate and safe way, we became a YouTube partner and as such in February 2013 we registered our copyright content in the YouTube database. For most fan videos this will not result in any changes, however, for those videos featuring Nintendo-owned content, such as images or audio of a certain length, adverts will now appear at the beginning, next to or at the end of the clips. 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.”

This is arguably worse than if they’d decided to pull the content altogether. Like Nintendo themselves said, some companies do this and no one makes money off of the video. For them to swoop in and essentially take money from the work of others — and there’s plenty of extra work beside capturing and uploading game footage — while pretending that they’re doing everyone a favor is sleazy. Worse yet, this only paints Nintendo as a bunch of hypocrites.


The House that Mario Built isn’t above skimming copyrighted material for their own gain. The most famous instance is the soundtrack to the SNES cult classic EarthBound. The “original” score is spackled with barely-altered samples of famous music. This is widely speculated to be the reason that Nintendo has been slow to bring the game to its Virtual Console service, and now that they’re releasing on the back of this YouTube controversy it’s become laughable.

The icing on the cake? Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata was a programmer on the game twenty years ago, a fact that he proudly proclaimed during the Nintendo Direct announcing EarthBound for the Wii U Virtual Console last month.

More recently, Nintendo was sued by Hillcrest Laboratories in regards to the motion technology in the company’s Wii Remotes. Hillcrest said that its patents were infringed upon and aimed to have the Wii banned from sale in the United States. Nintendo settled, although the terms weren’t disclosed and it’s unclear whether or not they licensed the technology from Hillcrest from that point on.

Nintendo has been the plaintiff in a copyright case as well, but that, too, was on shoddy ground. In 1990, they sued Galoob — remember Galoob? — over their Game Genie cheat device. The way Game Genie worked was that players could modify a game by inputting codes; some would negate a bit of the game’s programming to make players invincible, for example. Nintendo’s argument was that Galoob was creating derivative works with the Game Genie, which would be an infringement on their copyright.

In 1991, District Judge Fern M. Smith ruled in favor of Galoob, stating that “Having paid Nintendo a fair return, the consumer may experiment with the product and create new variations of play, for personal enjoyment, without creating a derivative work.” Smith also said that using a Game Genie is like “skipping portions of a book, learning to speed read, fast-forwarding a video tape one has purchased in order to skip portions one chooses not to see, or using slow motion for the opposite reasons.”

The Galoob case isn’t too far off from what’s happening with YouTube now. Players have paid Nintendo a fair return, and by adding commentary are creating nonderivative work. People enjoy watching livestreams and Let’s Play videos because seeing how people react to different game scenarios is compelling entertainment. It’s why the EVO Moment 37 clip is so popular.

There’s very little for Nintendo to gain by going down this content ID road. It’s notoriously difficult to monetize YouTube as it is, and  by stealing from those putting in the hours to celebrate their games is gross. When they’re doing it with their past of liberal use of the ideas of others? That’s downright insulting.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sturm.davenport Sturm Davenport

    This is F****** RIDICULOUS!!! how the hell is this worse than taking down the videos entirely?!!!

    • http://www.facebook.com/joegarcia23 Joe Garcia

      If the videos were taken down entirely, no one would make money off of them — fine. As it stands, they’re essentially stealing money that others worked for.

      LPers take hours out of their days to not only capture and comment on footage, but edit and promote it. For some it’s a full time job, and there’s nothing lazy about it.

      • ??????

        True but its Nintendo’s content so its Nintendos money.

    • http://www.facebook.com/Mounce2 Jason Mounce

      Say, you make an awesome Tribute video to games of all kinds that were on SNES. It took you weeks to make to tribute to games that you loved as you were a child. You put a lot of time and effort into making the video and timing it, editing it to perfection to like-minded gamers to enjoy as you do and—

      Oh wait, Nintendo wants to profit off the video you made. You think it normal and you think that if people trashtalk Nintendo for this, when essentially Nintendo is smacking/biting the hand that feeds them, that the ones at a loss should be at shame and conform to Nintendos methods of trying to garner more profit at the cost of consumer appreciation? Hey, am sure if I shared a Video off of PS4 and uploaded it to Youtube that Sony wouldn’t hop in and say “OH HEY FREE REVENUE, THANKS!”

      Nintendos’ glory days ended with the end of Gamecube, the final Gamer-oriented console.

      • http://www.facebook.com/sturm.davenport Sturm Davenport

        Waaa waaaa waaaa!!! Thats all i hear from you cry babies. Ads are absolute bull$hit. They didnt make the game, so they shouldnt be able to make money off it , bottom line, its as simple as that. They should get off their asses and get a real job, people, like always, are blowing this completely out of proportion

        • Reneid Klein

          You really just sound like you’re jealous and angry that people can make more money than you by working smarter not harder. If “lazy” and “talentless” people can make millions of dollars why not quit your “real job” and do what they do? It is very hard to get big on Youtube, harder to get big enough to make money and harder to do it well enough that you can sustain an audience and do it for a full time job.

          There really is a lot of time an effort put into making good Youtube videos, especially let’s play and review videos. They are probably some of the harder ones to make, at least compared to the standard vlog type video.

          Do some people with not a lot of talent get popular and make a lot of money? Yes, but that happens with “real jobs” as well when your boss’s niece ends up being your supervisor with only a high school education and making twice your salary despite all your degrees.

          The world isn’t always fair but that doesn’t mean that everyone on top doesn’t deserve it and it doesn’t mean that people who found a smart way to earn side income or replace their full-time job deserve to have it all taken away because a company wants to be greedy.

          • http://www.facebook.com/Mounce2 Jason Mounce

            Hey, you should look at Sturms post history. What would you gather he/she is? a Try-too-hard-Troll or just a person with a hilariously flawed sense of perception and a blatantly ignorant opinion that strives for attention? Seems everything that they type seems to only provoke flame as if their whole existence is not to Live but to be obnoxious and pathetic on the internet. I didn’t think such sub-human scum would lurk around these corners, eh?

          • http://www.facebook.com/sturm.davenport Sturm Davenport


          • Reneid Klein

            You may be right. I know there are some people that hate on things for no reason and I thought he may be one of those people but after seeing his reply to me and reading your post I think you are probably right.

          • http://www.facebook.com/Mounce2 Jason Mounce

            *Ego-stroke* I generally am right.

            Because I only speak when I know I’m likely in the right 😀 Only fools open their mouths when the only thing in mind is assumptions or half-understood concepts.

          • http://www.facebook.com/sturm.davenport Sturm Davenport

            again, just because you put time and effort into something, does not make you automatically entitled to money for it. lets say I spend 10 hours a week on a english paper for 3 weeks straight, than I should be entitled to not only to a good grade, but also money for all my hardwork and effort according to your flawed logic.

        • http://www.facebook.com/Mounce2 Jason Mounce

          Well now, what fuels you to be a hypocrite, son? What is this? And what is this ignorance that guides you? How can someone tell someone off as a crybaby and yet be a crybaby itself?

          All of your comments have been “Waaa waaa waaa” and yet when I provide logic and reasoning. You start going: “Waaa waaa waaa” and tell me I’m going “Waaa waaa waaa”

          Do you get where I’m going with this? Is your bulb burnt out or is it just dim? Bottom line is – ….You don’t make the bottom line, that’s up to the smart people, the creative people, the people who Do things instead of being self-entitled nobodies pretending their half-assed opinions mean something on the internet, Little Sturm.

          Sorry if I hit a dot on your forehead by the way. I enjoy analyzing and pointing out blatant cracks and flaws in designs. That and I bet you any money that you voted your posts up because no one would be stupid enough to vote you up (That and the only one to downvote my post would’ve come from You, the whiny-hypocrite)

          • http://www.facebook.com/sturm.davenport Sturm Davenport

            you got me good man, i concede defeat. i bet thats what you wanted me to say. well too bad, you didnt refute hardly any of my points. did they spend hundreds upon hundreds of hours developing the game. of course not, so they have no right to make money off of videos of footage of that game. another thing, just because someone puts some time into something, does not make them entitled to money. so if I work on my car for 10 hours a week for a month straight, someone should pay me for all that hard work I did according to your flawed logic. and you didnt say how this was worse than taking down the videos entirely.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sturm.davenport Sturm Davenport

    Sensationalist journalism at its finest folks

  • James Enk

    no bias at all

  • PrincessUmbrella

    Earthbound wasn’t made by nintendo but okay.

    • http://www.facebook.com/joegarcia23 Joe Garcia

      Ape and HAL Laboratory are both subsidiaries of Nintendo, but okay.

  • http://www.facebook.com/InternationalGamer1 Christopher Bosak

    Love you Nintendo but this BULLSHIT. I’ve bought your products on since 1989 while also buying other consoles as well.

  • http://twitter.com/AceOfCakez Ace

    Cool story, bro.