After initially tolerating YouTubers who ran their own ads on Nintendo-related videos and then cracking down on the practice, Nintendo recently promised to implement some sort of revenue-sharing program. What had sounded like a plan to split ad money on Let's Plays suddenly sounds like something grander.
"Think of it as an affiliate program where we will be providing access to executives, information, etcetera, encouraging that group of affiliates to create content on our behalf," Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime told me when I asked him for details at E3.
As an example of the kind of material Nintendo wants to create, he pointed to the company's E3-hyping collaboration with the video game comedy team Mega64 (seen up top).
The Mega64 video is funny, but it also seems like quite a bit more of a production than the kind of Let's Play videos sometimes caught up in ad sweeps. What would Nintendo's affiliate program mean for people who simply want to play a favourite game and upload footage? What, I asked, is Nintendo's view of that kind of work — the kind of work that some companies see as promotion for their games and that they're happy to have YouTubers make money off of with YouTube ads?
"When we unveil our affiliate program it will be clear how different entities can play," Fils-Aime said. "And likely there will be a place for the kinds of examples where you reference, like, look, 'All I want to do is capture some of the content and put it out there,' not add a lot of value. There'll be a role for that.
"But, candidly, what we really want is folks who are going to work with us to create some unique, compelling content, because we believe that benefits both entities. Again, you look at that Mega64 video, last time I looked, close to a million views, and that benefits them and that benefits us."
Fils-Aime said Nintendo initially began stopping some YouTubers from running ads on their Nintendo-related videos because it was working to protect the reputation of its characters on the video site.
"The first thing we needed to do was make sure that the content that's out there was representative of the franchises. These are our lifeblood. These are our children. We needed to make sure that the content there was reflective of what these franchises are. The next step is working with the YouTube community to provide access to information, access to executives, to help them create world-class content, leveraging our franchises."