Let’s Plays and streaming games for others to watch have always been a bit tricky if taken for more than recreation; mainly due to the drive to monetize the most popular, opening the door to any number of disputes (legal or otherwise). It often begs the question: is it fair to earn money by using something that made actually created by someone else? At one time, many video game publishers and developers replied with a resounding “no.”
Nintendo once set out to taking down YouTube videos that featured gameplay footage from their franchises, but just last year made an about face, deciding to work with people through an affiliate program. The rise and ever-growing popularity of Let’s Plays forced many companies to step back and reconsider their stance due to one unavoidable fact: a lot of people experience games this way (read: free marketing).
This month, Microsoft updated its own stance on monetization through its Game Content Usage Rules, and can only be seen as good news for YouTube and Twitch creators. Long story short, Microsoft supports the endeavor, provided that content creators follow a few (16) rules. Most of the rules are obvious, forbidding inappropriate content like pornography, cracking open games and extracting their assets, etc. But a few are a little more interesting, like the one that expressly forbids the created content from being exclusive to a distributor.
According to the company, they’re supporting content that will be shared “far and wide”; making something exclusive would go against that. Furthermore, videos can’t be placed behind pay walls, subscriptions, or anything that requires people to pay to see it in the first place.
“We know that people like you – gamers, fans, individuals, and enthusiasts – love our games and sometimes want to use things like gameplay footage, screenshots, music, and other elements of our games (“Game Content”) to make things like machinima, videos, and other cool things (your “Item(s)”). We’d like to make that easier to do for fans of our games. So long as you can respect these rules, you can use our Game Content to make your Items.”
Regardless of what people decide to make and share with the world, however, the following disclaimer has to be posted somewhere on the same page as the video where people can easily spot it. Microsoft has to get some credit, right?
[Name of the Microsoft Game] © Microsoft Corporation. [The title of your Item] was created under Microsoft’s “Game Content Usage Rules” using assets from [Name of the Microsoft Game], and it is not endorsed by or affiliated with Microsoft.
While it’s nice to see Microsoft allowing YouTube and Twitch users to earn money for their efforts, they’re also subject to Microsoft cutting them off, should they go against the aforementioned rules. Presumably, the same will be done if people try to bend them. That said, creators have the tech giant’s support, which is nothing to frown at.
Anyone interested in using Microsoft games for their own ideas should give the rules a thorough read. Plausible deniability probably won’t work in your favor if you go astray. What say you about the companies guidelines? Well within their rights, and something to be applauded, or something that should be closely examined before completely complying?