Just over a week ago Nintendo confirmed that it would be offering an affiliate program for YouTube, in which it would offer tiered packages to content producers that would share ad revenues between Nintendo, Google and the channels in question. After the controversy following the company's heavy-handed claims of revenue in mid-2013, this seemed like a logical middle ground between making no claims and sucking all profits from videos featuring Nintendo products.
That affiliate program is yet to be detailed, yet within that announcement Nintendo also made clear that it was beginning to process of, once again, claiming revenues from videos featuring its products. In what seems like an unfortunate overlap of pursuing claims before formally offering an alternative, an early report of a claim on a Mario Kart 8 video has come out, and will likely be followed by more; the claim was by Nintendo and based on the presence of the game music. There are suggestions that prioritising voice-over or using other sound may help avoid these claims, but it's also possible that Nintendo will search for content based on footage regardless.
Clips uploaded from Mario Kart TV are, unsurprisingly, likely to be encoded to automatically direct any revenue to Nintendo; it's unlikely that any of these relatively generic clips will 'go viral', in any case. This move by Nintendo does seem odd from the perspective that Nintendo could strip incentive away from consumers that are providing valuable exposure for their products — a current example is the Luigi death stare video that's gone viral and received press attention. While that video doesn't appear to be claimed, it can be argued that a policy of claiming ad revenues will encourage YouTube users — particularly those that make a living from the platform — to focus on games by companies that don't seek any of the advert money. Why devote attention on directing hundreds of thousands or millions of subscribers to Nintendo games if the big N is going to take a cut?
The flipside is that these are Nintendo products, and it has a right to claim these revenues. The affiliate program could potentially be a wise move to establish fairness and not drive away vital content on YouTube — which costs Nintendo nothing to produce — that can provide vital awareness and word of mouth. Perhaps some content — depending on size of channel etc — won't be eligible for the affiliate program, but it nonetheless seems like a poor public relations move to claim ad revenue before the details are given.
We await details on the affiliate program, but let us know your thoughts below.