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Tuesday Newsday: Nintendo's YouTube PR disaster, and the right way to combat sexism

Date
Cheesecake versus beefcake - how one game studio employee made a good-humoured stand against sexism in the workplace.

Cheesecake versus beefcake - how one game studio employee made a good-humoured stand against sexism in the workplace.

Nintendo lays claim to all YouTube videos featuring their gameplay

Are you a hardcore Mario player who likes to upload your Super Mario Bros. 3 speed runs for the world to see? Are you a more generous soul who makes "how to play" videos for Pikmin, sharing your strategies with other players? Perhaps you're simply an amateur game reviewer who likes to give commentary over a recording of your playthrough of Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.

If you make any of these types of videos then Nintendo says they own your videos, or at least they claim 100% of any advertising revenue you might make from them.

Over the past couple of years, monetising YouTube channels has become a reliable source of income for a lot of people, be they video bloggers or movie reviewers or amateur filmmakers. If a video has a video ad running before it and/or a banner ad appearing beneath it, the video owner can earn a tiny speck of money per view. If a video is popular enough, then its owner could earn a substantial amount of money.

Hard figures are impossible to find, but it reportedly takes views in the hundreds of millions to crack $100,000 in YouTube earnings, so you're not likely to get rich. Even so, a YouTuber with a solid following could make a handy bit of pocket money.

In what strikes me as a fairly clear case of a self-inflicted public relations gunshot wound to the foot, Nintendo has claimed ownership over the ad revenue from any video that features footage of their games. Exactly how much footage is unknown, as Nintendo has not given a precise figure, just "images or audio of a certain length".

Zack Scott, who makes "Let's Play" videos of many games, has said on his Facebook page that Nintendo claimed "content ID match" on many of his videos. This is not the more serious take-down order reserved for copyright infringers, but instead leaves the video up but claims control over its advertising and revenue.

Legally, I'm sure Nintendo can back this up, but it strikes me as a disastrous PR move. Let's Play videos, mash-ups, and other videos that use footage of their games give Nintendo a lot of free promotion, and the reaction on social media has been swift and brutal. Considering how delicate Nintendo's current business situation is, alienating their most devoted fans just seems misguided.

Contrast this attitude with Sony. Their upcoming PlayStation 4 has a share button right there on the controller, allowing you to capture images and videos and share them online. The legal restrictions on this feature have not been released as yet, but its very inclusion suggests an attitude that sharing is a good thing.

Female game studio employee highlights office sexism brilliantly

Let's cleanse our palates after that PR nightmare with one of the best good news stories to come out of the video game development industry in years.

The CEO of Meteor Entertainment, the company that makes the online free-to-play mech combat game Hawken, took a liking to a bit of promotional art made for the game. The image was a sexy reimagining of the "Rosie the Riveter" style propaganda posters of WW2, featuring a scantily-clad female mechanic in the shadow of a giant robot.

He was such a fan that he had the image blown up to poster size and framed, and hung it outside his office. Employees would see it when they arrived at work, and again when they left to go home.

An unnamed female employee got fed up with what was essentially a sexy pin-up dominating the entrance to her place of work, but decided to fight it in a subtle but clever way. She collaborated with one of the artists at Meteor to create a parody of it, a beefy man wearing nothing but underpants and a hardhat, drawn in the same style.

She made a huge print of the new image and had it framed, and then early one morning, before anyone arrived, swapped it for the original picture that was bothering her so much. When the CEO saw the switched image, his reaction was a dream come true.

He told his employee that it was a brilliant prank, and that it had demonstrated that he was doing the wrong thing putting pictures of half-naked girls around the office without any thought for how it might make others feel. he took her and the artist out to lunch, and then both images were hung in the lobby side by side.

I strongly recommend going to the link above and reading the entire story. It's a brilliant example of an employee drawing attention to a problem in a positive, good-humoured way, and a boss who was not afraid to admit that he had done the wrong thing. With gaming news sites packed with articles about how tough the industry is, it's refreshing to read such a positive story.

Sudden glut of game-to-movie adaptations announced

Hollywood seems to have re-discovered video games. In only a couple of weeks, several new movies based on video games have been announced, and a few that you might have forgotten about have exhibited some activity.

First up, we have a pair of 3D CGI animated features, namely Angry Birds and Ratchet & Clank.

The Angry Birds announcement seems a tad premature, considering they have announced a release date somewhere in 2016. When you remember that the original Angry Birds launched on the iOS App Store only two and a half years ago, announcing a film three years in advance strikes me as a little over-enthusiastic. Three years is a very long time in Hollywood, and in gaming.

Slightly closer to the present is the 2015 release of a Ratchet & Clank CGI feature. While this is still a long way out, Insomniac's dynamic duo at least has the benefit of being associated with story-driven games, and have a much longer history with fans. Fans also have a fun teaser trailer to give them a taste of what is to come.

Speaking of 2015 releases, after a long period of silence, the Assassin's Creed movie is now reported to be moving along nicely, and is now set for release in May 2015. it has some serious star power behind it as well, with Prometheus star Michael Fassbender to take the role of "a man who learns his ancestors were trained assassins after he is kidnapped by a secret org with ties to the Knights Templar, and sent back in time to retrieve historical artifacts". Sounds an awful lot like Desmond Miles to me.

EA kills the online pass

They may have been voted "the worst company in America" by over-zealous gamers with no sense of perspective, but it's clear that Electronic Arts does listen to its fans.

In an email to gaming news site GamesBeat, EA has stated that it is doing away with online passes for all of its games from now on. Seen as a way to recoup losses from second-hand game sales, a digital code in a game would mean that only the original purchaser could use online features for free. If the game were sold, then the new owner would need to pay - typically between $5 and $15 - to play online.

EA's customers have never liked the online pass feature, and EA has been receiving complaints about it for years. While PC gamers have been registering their games with unique serial numbers for many years, some claim that they are not needed on harder-to-pirate console games.

Whatever their reasons, EA's senior director of corporate communications John Reseburg told Gamesbeat that they have "listened to the feedback and decided to do away with [the online pass system] moving forward".

After a few months of public relations horror, I'm sure EA is very pleased to be able to give gamers a bit of good news.

Seen any gaming news stories you think your fellow Screen Play readers would be interested in? Email them to DexX at SPYourTurn@gmail.com.

 - James "DexX" Dominguez

twitter DexX is on Twitter: @jamesjdominguez

8 comments so far

  • Thank god EA got rid of the online pass, seems like a smart move.

    [sexist comment redacted]

    Commenter
    Tone
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    May 21, 2013, 9:14AM
    • When I read the story of Meteor Entertainment the other day, I was extremely impressed. Glad to see that the company took it seriously too and made the changes. It's a good start.

      Angry Birds as a movie? Seriously? Wow...I am lost for words on that.

      Commenter
      Joka
      Date and time
      May 21, 2013, 9:21AM
      • Wow, Nintendo are really making one bad step after another aren't they? it may be premature to say it but i think they're going the way of Sega unless they can pull themselves out of this slump.

        Commenter
        Dave B
        Date and time
        May 21, 2013, 10:13AM
        • Mr Hawken looks a lot like Commander Riker

          Commenter
          BlindSquirrel
          Date and time
          May 21, 2013, 10:36AM
          • Hmmm, isn't there a law about using footage for 'Review and Criticism' purposes in Australia? If Radio Stations play or clips from games, do they have to give up a share of their revenue?

            I am highly critical of this move (considering I just today got some video capture stuff to review some retro games), but I'm also genuinely interested in the legality. Is it just nintendo games, or games on the Nintendo Systems? What about a game like Killer Instinct?

            Oh well, as a protest, I guess we'll all have to not purchase a Wii U, especailly since we were all about to rush out and buy one....*smirk*

            Commenter
            Hospes
            Date and time
            May 21, 2013, 12:04PM
            • lol. I think they are over estimating the staying power of angry birds there. I actually deleted 5 or 6 flavours of it off my iphone over the weekend.

              Commenter
              mongey
              Date and time
              May 21, 2013, 1:08PM
              • Reminds me of that PR blunder from Nintendo where they sent a cease and desist to suicide girls after one of the profiles mentioned Nintendo titles/characters in their profile. An overzealous response to what may be a niche problem.

                Commenter
                Lucid Fugue
                Location
                Melbourne
                Date and time
                May 21, 2013, 2:16PM
                • That Hawken comeback is just sheer brilliance. :D

                  I've heard of the EA dropping the passes... i'm a cautiously optimistic about it seeing as it's EA and chances are they probably have something "the same w/ a different name" somewhere in the horizon..

                  As for the Ninty one... someone really should be slapping all these executives/lawyers who give out advice like these and give them a crash course on advertising/marketing. That being said it really sounds like your standard big talk but no action moves from publishers. The one where they make an all encompassing statement just to put down the preface that they *can* do it if they wanted to.. but never really act upon it. At least that's what I hope this is... It would be a very very stupid move if they followed through..

                  Commenter
                  RocK_M
                  Location
                  I want chinese take-away!
                  Date and time
                  May 21, 2013, 4:36PM

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