The Switch’s Video Sharing Is A Chance For Nintendo To Get Right With YouTubers – Forbes

Photo: AngryJoe/YouTube

Photo: AngryJoe/YouTube

The Nintendo Switch has a wide variety of features that were shown off in Nintendo’s press conference, from virtual ice cube-holding Joy-Cons to the core functionality of flipping between home console and portable. But one aspect of the Switch was glossed over when it’s actually pretty significant. Or at least it should be.

I’m talking about the concept of a built-in “share” button on the Switch, which Nintendo says is just starting out with screenshots, but will eventually be upgraded to be able to capture video and post it “on social media” according to the company.

It’s a feature that Microsoft and Sony both have on the Xbox One and PS4 in some form or another (in the interest of retaining my commenter-described Sony fanboydom, I will say PS4’s system is better), and it certainly makes sense that Nintendo would want to adopt the idea as well.

Of course, it runs contrary to not just Nintendo’s entire history of fans sharing video from its games, but its policies in present day as well, where it’s a constant battle for content creators to effectively post, and god forbid, monetize, Nintendo content.

Nintendo and YouTube creators have had a particularly frosty relationship, as posting anything from Nintendo games, trailers or press events has been a quick way to get your content removed or co-opted by Nintendo themselves. Nintendo’s “solution” to this was to create a partnership program that allows your channel or your individual videos to split revenue with Nintendo, essentially paying them for protection. But the system has been convoluted and inconvenient and seems rarely taken advantage of.

Things can get downright wacky with Nintendo’s video philosophy. YouTuber Jim Sterling posts a weekly rant/video column called The Jimquisition, where he regularly takes companies or specific games to task. This week, his focus was on Nintendo, and the weird choices they’re making with the Switch. But because he used footage from both Nintendo games and trailers, hilariously, he had both Nintendo of America and Nintendo of Japan making copyright claims on his (non-monetized) video, deadlocked against one another because only one company can lay claim to a video.

Nintendo's dueling copyright claims on a YouTube video (Photo: Jim Sterling/Twitter)

Nintendo’s dueling copyright claims on a YouTube video (Photo: Jim Sterling/Twitter)

Other YouTubers have to go to preposterous lengths to avoid the Nintendo copyright police, from flipping and tilting video to garbling it with crazy filters in the hopes that bots don’t pick up on it. In the end, it’s why many YouTubers choose to stay away from Nintendo altogether.

This can change. Nintendo can change.

The introduction of a native share button in its new console at least strongly indicates that Nintendo may finally be coming around to the idea of social sharing of its video games, on YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, etc. It also is the perfect moment for them to declare a cease-fire, and make peace with the YouTubers they’ve been confounding for ages.

Why should Nintendo care if fans want to post footage of its games on YouTube? Why should Nintendo care if YouTubers want to monetize that footage to support themselves while simultaneously promoting Nintendo’s products at no cost to them? Why is Nintendo so desperate for nickels and dimes that it thinks it needs to force obtuse revenue share programs which discourage most content creators from featuring Nintendo games at all?

It doesn’t have to be this way. The Switch getting native sharing should be a signal that Nintendo is finally over this hill. That it will to let go of not its IP per se, but the idea of fans sharing its IP in video form, and including it in their video game channels as part of a regular rotation of content. There are dozens, hundreds of other games that have no Nintendo-like restrictions on sharing and monetization, so those games get featured and Nintendo’s don’t. Pretty much the entire industry has realized the benefit of working with Twitch streamers and YouTubers, not against them, and this is the moment that Nintendo can figure that out for itself. Everyone would welcome such an obvious, long-awaited policy shift.

Now, I’m going to tell you what’s actually going to happen. One of two things:

• Nintendo’s video sharing will bypass YouTube completely, and your captured video will go to some clunky proprietary player in some kind of MyNintendo.com site that you can link to from social media.

• Nintendo will allow YouTube uploads, but will continue to force players to sign up for its partner program if they want to monetize the footage. Elsewhere, takedowns and content claims will continue to abound as always.

That’s what logic would dictate Nintendo will actually do, because Nintendo always does the least logical thing when it comes to stuff like this. Now, I’m hoping that isn’t true, and that they seize on this moment to finally understand the power and mutual benefit of just letting YouTubers do their thing with its content, unencumbered, but this is also a company that took out story mode from Super Smash Bros. because the creator was upset people were uploading the cutscenes online.

What Nintendo’s future plans are for video is anyone’s guess. This share button hopefully indicates that change is in the air, but given the last few years, it may be hard to believe that in the end, Nintendo will actually embrace YouTube if given the chance.

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