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Avatar image for liquiddragon
Posted by liquiddragon (3375 posts) 1 year, 9 months ago

Poll: What percentage of the revenue do you think game creators should get from let's play content? (418 votes)

0% 61%
5% 5%
10% 9%
15% 3%
20% 5%
25% 3%
30% 3%
35% 0%
40% 0%
45% 0%
50% 4%
55% 0%
60% 1%
65% 0%
70% 0%
75% 0%
80% 0%
85% 0%
90% 1%
95% 0%
100% 3%

In this day and age when so many people watch others play games, some even preferring it over playing them, it doesn't seem that outrageous for content creators to share some of their earnings with game makers, particularly if the single player content is shown from start to credit.

Personally, I was debating between 25-35% but I'll go with 25%. Look, creating content is no joke. You gotta put in the time and it takes a lot effort, and before that, you gotta invest in the set up. The whole thing is a full time gig that you gotta commit to and grind on. A lot goes into just getting the stuff out there for the viewers but the creators also have to be on, whether on camera or on mic, and be presentable, and likable, and entertaining. I don't want to take anything away from the ppl that do it for a living. Even for the lucky ones, it takes years and years to gain a real following. But what about the developers that don't see a dime for their work, do they deserve anything?

Do you think game makers should see a cut? If so, how much of it?

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#1 Edited by TheFlamingo352 (347 posts) -

I think 25% is too big a chunk--especially when a lot of bigger youtubers probably get more views because of their name/brand than because of the game they're playing. A 5% revenue cut to devs can still be *a lot* of money with bigger internet personalities' audience size, but a 5% cut also wouldn't be severe enough to severely harm youtubers' businesses. Hopefully that'd alleviate developer concerns over lost sales.

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#2 Edited by iAmJohn (6293 posts) -

Any option that is not 0% justifies the bullshit precedent that the customer is only purchasing a revokable license that the creator controls, and that is absolute trash. If I buy a couch, the people who made the couch have no right to tell me what I can or cannot do with it. Why should a video game be any different?

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#3 Edited by WilliamHenry (1290 posts) -

@iamjohn said:

Any option that is not 0% justifies the bullshit precedent that the customer is only purchasing a revokable license that the creator controls, and that is absolute trash. If I buy a couch, the people who made the couch have no right to tell me what I can or cannot do with it. Why should a video game be any different?

A couch is not intellectual property and thus you are not using someone's copyrighted material to profit directly from said material. Do you honestly think that once you buy something you are free to legally do literally anything you want with the intellectual property? Do you think if I buy a movie, record and add my own commentary over top of it, then resell the movie, that it is legal? Its the same thing with Let's Plays. They are 100% not legal, but the copyright owners let them happen because of the benefits Let's Plays provide, but they are 100% in their legal right to prevent them.

Nobody is saying if you buy a game you shouldn't have the right to play it and fully own it, but you have zero rights to use that intellectual property to earn money unless you explicitly pay the copyright holders for a license to do so.

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#4 Posted by Rocketskates (238 posts) -

Someone who obviously understands how copyright works.

@iamjohn said:

Any option that is not 0% justifies the bullshit precedent that the customer is only purchasing a revokable license that the creator controls, and that is absolute trash. If I buy a couch, the people who made the couch have no right to tell me what I can or cannot do with it. Why should a video game be any different?

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#5 Posted by utternyms (163 posts) -

This one is hard to nail down in just a poll answer. I went with 0%, because, often, Let's Plays (in the sense of a Quick-Look) can serve to get the word out about a game and increase sales. That makes them -- more or less -- free advertising, so in that sense, the developer getting a cut is pretty gross. But when the video content is instead serving as a way to consume the game without buying and playing it, then the developer maybe should get a cut, because the video is eating into sales rather than increasing them. However, if a game is big enough, the sales hit is probably negligible -- like with the GBEast playthrough of Life Is Strange. And then, in really specific instances, if a game is small enough and the content is beloved enough, a full playthrough can be a boon -- the GBEast playthrough of Contradiction. And then what if virtually no one who watched the playthrough would have bought the game anyway? And then and then and then. So yeah, it's really complicated.

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#6 Edited by Brackstone (909 posts) -

I said zero percent. I feel like most game devs realize the free advertising is worth it alone since it means less spending on marketing, giving them a cut of the actual content would just hurt the lp business overall I feel. The only way to execute it without harming the business as a whole would involve so many rules and other complications that it's almost not worth it, and it's very unlikely with youtube's hands-off approach to, well, everything. Not to mention, in the end it just hurts the little people, the big let's players would barely notice.

If devs are really concerned about lost sales, they already have the tools to limit or outright forbid full let's plays from being done. Of course there are ways around it, but as far as the developer side of the matter is concerned, those tools work pretty well. They shouldn't need both the existing DMCA tools and some overarching let's play system. If they want to cut some behind the scenes exclusive lp deals while issuing take downs against everyone else, they have that power. In that case, the money values in question are completely up to negotiation between the dev and the youtuber.

Honestly, it's a bit like paid mods. Mods used to be a way of getting experience, maybe starting a studio, and sometimes even joining the dev of the game you are modding. These people do deserve credit and it would be great if they could earn money for what they do, but trying to establish a concrete system and set of rules outside of what's already available just adds too many complications, and can bring the whole thing tumbling down. Devs have the power to support and suppress the communities that rise up around their games as needed. These are the realities of working with an IP you don't own. I wish things were better for everyone but I'm not sure there's a way they can be.

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#7 Posted by FrodoBaggins (2059 posts) -

0 dollars

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#8 Edited by flagranterror (70 posts) -

"But what about the developers that don't see a dime for their work, do they deserve anything?"

To me this is a truly WTF-worthy thing to say. What about all of the people who are buying their games? That is the reward for developers. Nobody is developing a game going "this game will be great for people to watch!" It's not a TV show.

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#9 Edited by deactivated-5b85a38d6c493 (1990 posts) -

100%. I honestly feel this way. This is obviously not how it is or is going to be in the future, but yeah if I'm being honest this is how I feel.

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#10 Edited by JohnyMyko (1889 posts) -

5 to 10 percent if it's a playthrough of the full game, since some people might not buy the game because they can watch a video showing the full game.

0% if it's just a one-off video or just a couple of videos that don't show everything in the game, since that's pretty much free advertising for the game.

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#11 Posted by BladeOfCreation (1333 posts) -

@boonsong: I think the problem with saying that it should be 100% is that it makes the conversation a lot bigger than just Let's Plays. I mean, yeah, Let's Plays wouldn't exist without the original work. But neither would reviews. If creators got 100% of the revenue from Let's Plays, it's not a huge stretch to think they'd start going after reviews next.

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#12 Posted by rethla (3725 posts) -

What revenue they would get for free advertising? none, its the other way around.

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#13 Posted by OurSin_360 (6177 posts) -

0%, it's basically free advertising.

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#14 Edited by onarum (3212 posts) -

@iamjohn said:

Any option that is not 0% justifies the bullshit precedent that the customer is only purchasing a revokable license that the creator controls, and that is absolute trash. If I buy a couch, the people who made the couch have no right to tell me what I can or cannot do with it. Why should a video game be any different?

Don't misplace things dude, this is about people spending a grand total of 10 minutes setting up a shitty stream and profiting on the back of years of hard work by a dev team, it's just not right.

Also the whole tired "it's free advertisement!!! lol!!11one" reasoning just doesn't cut it, doesn't work for all games, if you watch the entire playthrough of a purely narrative driven game (which usually has very basic gameplay) there's very little reason for you to go buy it and play yourself.

Like I said in a previous post, this has to be treated on a case by case basis, some games benefit, some don't, and ultimately the IP owner has every damn right to try and get a share of the revenue generated by their own hard-work.

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#15 Edited by Shindig (4935 posts) -

Unless you can successfully argue that watching a game is equal to playing it, get stuffed.

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#16 Posted by Pezen (2381 posts) -

This issue does feel unique for video games. When I watch GB or anyone else play a game, it is not nearly the same experience as playing it myself. Beyond that, two different people can play a game and one can be entertaining and the other might not be. The commonality is the game but the thing that changes my appreciation of what I am watching is who I am watching. Thus, the game is in some way secondary. So to me, whatever revenue my eyes add should go to the streamer because they are the core focus of why I would watch in the first place. The developer is paid by the stream basically being free advertisement.

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#17 Posted by MrWakka (322 posts) -

I'd say it depends on how much content the lets player adds to the experience. If its a silent run through of the game, then 100%, because the player is doing the absolute minimum, making the play through entirely reliant on the developers work to entertain.

If the let's player adds significant content through their lp, then that bar slides to the other side. It really becomes all about how much are views to the lp being driven by original content and how much is based on the game itself to me. If your lp adds little to no original content, why should you get a dime when it is the developers work that is earning it all?

As far as it being free advertising, sure. Did the developer ask you to? Did they ask you not to? Just because you offer something for free doesn't mean the person you are offering it to has to accept, especially when you get to then profit from it.

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#18 Posted by gunflame88 (383 posts) -

It's free advertisement and you'll just discourage it with any kind of revenue cut. Seems counterproductive. And if something like this was widespread it would not be some 5-10% chump change publishers won't care for, it would be way more.

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#19 Edited by ClockOut (10 posts) -

The argument that's it's free advertisement is really weird to me. Sure, it is, but when you hire an advertising agency you get to set out the terms of the agreement. Advertising agencies are often desperate to work with the best clients because it'll reflect well on their firm, but they can't just start a free advertising campaign for someone without permission.

I think a review or hour or so critical appraisal should be fair use, but with anything beyond that the breakdown should be whatever the content creator thinks is fair, it's then up to the streamer if they want to agree to it.

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#20 Posted by BladeOfCreation (1333 posts) -

You know what might be an interesting way to work this out? A situation in which the developer or publisher only gets revenue after a certain point. Something like what Epic started doing with Unreal Engine 4.


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#21 Edited by Dixavd (2901 posts) -

How Ad revenue currently works for a Let's Play video with Ads uploaded to YouTube:

  • Default: 45% Google / 55% Video Creator
  • If copyright claim set but under dispute window: 45% Google / 55% stored until end of dispute
  • Copyright claimed video: 45% Google / 55% shared amongst the copyright claimants (which can be multiple companies).

What I think it should be:

  • Video game creator licenses their game to YouTube so that they take a percentage:
  • Default: 10% Game IP owner / 45% Google / 45% Video Creator
  • If a review or analysis video (i.e. the only types of videos covered by Fair Use currently): 45% Google / 55% Video Creator
  • If purely content from the game (gameplay with no commentary, supercuts or scenes/mechanics from the game, whole cut-scenes): 45% Google / 55% Game IP owner

Edit: Adding that I didn't take the % from Google's cut (even though that would be preferable from the Publisher/Developer PR angle and the Video Creator's point of view) because that would make gaming videos worth less than other types and genres to Google. YouTube would then be further incentivised to remove gaming from their highest tier Ads (remember, these are just percentages based on the value of the Ads that YouTuber has earned to appear on their videos). A change like that or that simply gives YouTube less of a financial reason to focus on gaming would hurt the field significantly more.

The truth of the matter is that no Let's Play or gameplay video in a non-review capacity has ever been taken to be under Fair Use. There is also no proof in any game's sales that these non-Fair Use videos have ever resulted in a significant increase in sales as more than the number of people who didn't buy a game after being satisfied with just watching it. Game IP owners are merely allowing people to stream them for advertising, however, it is also clearly true that some of these videos are not positive for their game and their brand. Either you allow Game IP owners to get a cut of revenue from these videos, or you have to accept that they can take down any video (or whole channels) for any reason whatsoever at any time.

If I were a video creator, I'd pay through the nose for job security.

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#22 Posted by BladeOfCreation (1333 posts) -

@dixavd: Gotta love that Google, which is the entity actually hosting the "infringing content," still gets its cut no matter what. You'd think companies would be more pissed at the site that allows this in the first place, but I suppose most companies would rather go up against a streamer than against Google.

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#23 Posted by deactivated-5b85a38d6c493 (1990 posts) -

@bladeofcreation: Sure, I want to make clear though that this is just how I instinctively feel, this is my gut talking, this is not how I necessarily would want it to be in general. This is more of my dumb personal morals and principles talking.

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#24 Posted by BladeOfCreation (1333 posts) -

@boonsong: Hey, take a look at my comment in the "when do you stop buying a company's games?" thread. Believe me, I totally get that our gut reactions and how we feel about stuff might not be 100% pragmatic or logical. Humans are funny, often contradictory creatures!

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#25 Posted by Dixavd (2901 posts) -

@bladeofcreation: True, though I didn't include videos which are taken down (so no one, not even Google, profits). I've always thought Google's 45% cut was insanely high (especially when they also decide the value of the Ads appearing next to the videos). Although, I guess that's only because they effectively have a monopoly. The only saving grace at the moment is that in gaming at least there's competition with Streaming for creators and developers to fall back on... though Twitch gets closer to monopolising that by the day.

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#26 Posted by BladeOfCreation (1333 posts) -

@dixavd: I agree that it seems high. Mostly I was referring to the fact that Google can continue to collect ad revenue even while the copyright claim is being disputed, while the content creator gets none. I find that kind of baffling. If it's in dispute for a week and the video is still up, Google keeps making money, the creator doesn't, and then the video is taken down, I assume the creator of the video doesn't get that money that was held, right?

I just feel like if I was a big company issuing a copyright claim, I'd want to add something in there that said, "Hey Google...yeah, remove all ads from this video. You're not making money from our IP, either."

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#27 Edited by Dixavd (2901 posts) -

@bladeofcreation: Until recently (either last year or this year) the "held" money wasn't returned to the creator. Now, however, the 55% from that time period is given to the "winner". Quite often the video creator ends up getting it as the claimant doesn't manually deny the objection to the claim within 30days. If the claimant does, the money goes to them (and the only way for the Video Creator to get it back is to effectively take the claimant to court).

While I've seen these things from the perspective of a video creator, I've never seen them from the copyright holder's (and by "perspective", I literally mean the screens they are shown and options given). I have noticed some videos stay up with Ads while others immediately become "unavailable" when a claim is made. I don't know if the latter is because the creator immediately takes their video down (probably to stop a strike if they think they won't win an objection) or if the copyright holder could have chosen that when a Content ID match is found (or if they start it manually), they want the video to be made unavailable. If it's the latter than that does mean copyright holders have a way to also stop Google profiting immediately as well (but they have to remove the video - so no free advertising loophole without Google taking their cut).

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#28 Edited by BladeOfCreation (1333 posts) -

@dixavd: That makes sense. Thanks for the in-depth and easy explanations! Unfortunately, you used English words with meanings and definitions, therefore the Oxford English Dictionary is going to take 45% of the revenue you make from this thread! :-)

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#29 Posted by Rebel_Scum (1442 posts) -

I don't really know too much about this or what these Let's Play things are. I don't watch other people play games. But I'm in favour of there being at least the option on behalf of the developer to choose whether they get a cut or not. It's not a black and white issue and they needs to be a degree of flexibility for this as I'm sure it doesn't suit all cases.

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#31 Posted by Fredchuckdave (10824 posts) -

@dixavd: How can CPM be variable if its the same percentage universally?

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#32 Posted by Dixavd (2901 posts) -

@fredchuckdave: These are two things: Ads are split into tiers with Advertisers paying more CPM for their Ads to appear in higher tier groups. The percentages are the percentage of Ad revenue regardless of CPM. Some YouTubers get higher value Ads, they make more money per view, but so does YouTube. No matter what, Google takes their 45% cut. YouTuber's appear in higher tiers depending on type of content, the amount their content adds to the platform (I.e. creators which make long-series/playlists that keep people on YouTube longer will be bumped up the tier lists for adding value to the platform), and their proven track record. There are also specifically chosen creators which are whitelisted and moved to higher tiers.

There's also YouTube Red which acts differently and I'm not completely aware of - all I do know is a YouTube Red view is worth significantly more than other views (however estimates from creators on the number of views from YouTube Red subscribers varies from 1-5%).

TL;DR: The value per view (or per click) of the Ads varies for channels, but the 45% cut is consistent. There may be exceptions for specific YouTube deals (I think Music labels have a different deal - at least Vevo does).

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#33 Edited by Fredchuckdave (10824 posts) -

@dixavd: Youtube Red works no matter what, even if the video is marked as NSFW/mature audiences or whatever. My own CPM has increased dramatically over the course of the past year+few months, decreased with the demonetization thingie, and increased again with the recent ability to work around that with relative ease. But I have never communicated with youtube about this at any point at all. There's no rhyme or reason to why it increased at the point that it did, other than maybe they change shit on quarterlies (views have constantly grown over time and eventually surged to a new level but this happened independent of the CPM change timewise).

I assume much like everything else the entire process is almost 100% automated and thus "solvable" (hence why Youtube can be profitable with no initial fanbase/no word of mouth/no support).

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#34 Posted by Slag (8157 posts) -

I don't know what cut game makers should get, but I definitely think Google's is way too high

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#35 Posted by Shindig (4935 posts) -

How else would google make money? Ad deals can't carry that weight.

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#36 Posted by kuku (105 posts) -

I don't watch other people play games.

Wait, so what are you doing here? Podcasts?

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#37 Posted by MonkeyKing1969 (7573 posts) -

I think it has to come down under fair use doctrine. Making new rules or trying to create a blanket system of compensation likely won't work for all companies thus streaming becomes a 'case by case' minefield. The loop hole will close for streaming most games unless a case can be found that is winnable against all odds. Leonard French certainly thinks that such a case would extremely difficult -if not impossible- for most streamers to win. Given how streams typically are shown most often the preponderance of the game with only light commentary - they are very hard to protect under fair use.

Will streaming still exist in ten years? Sure, but it will not works as it does now. It most certainly will not be easy for someone to do from a bedroom on the spur of them moment unless they are a motor mouth who can do tranformative commentary on the fly. Since such people do exist, streaming will likely still exist; but people unable to do THAT, will get sent terse letters from lawyers until they quit.

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#38 Edited by BabyChooChoo (7092 posts) -

After watching a ton of shitty Let's Plays over the past few years, 10-20% doesn't seem out of the question assuming they're playing through the whole game and I still feel like that's being too generous to some "content creators." I specifically mention shitty LPs because the vast majority of Let's Plays should not even be legal in my opinion because they don't contribute anything of substance. Sometimes I'll open up Twitch and throw on a random stream in the background while I'm doing something else only to realize that this person is talking once every 5-10 minutes and it's hardly about the game.

I realize that my stance would potentially punish everyone, but I feel like some folks are getting away with murder.

And because you know I love my tangents, you wanna talk about the video game industry turning a blind eye to this stuff? Let's talk about the music industry for a sec. People stream with licensed music all the fucking time. When is that going to blow up in everyone's faces? I know it get's muted in the archives, but if i was Daft Punk or some other EDM artist (because, c'mon, that's the only genre every goddamn person plays on Twitch), I'd be pretty pissed someone is using my music to enhance their product and I'm not seeing a dime.

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#39 Edited by Shindig (4935 posts) -

Yeah, if you're putting some music on stream, plug the artist and throw them some bones. Although some of the ones I watch use royalty-free stuff or videogame music.

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#40 Posted by IcyEyes (609 posts) -

A better question would be "What percentage of the revenue do you think game creators should pay for let's play content?"

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#41 Edited by CJduke (1035 posts) -

Legally they should get money for it, but if they want to actually make real money they don't take any of the revenue. Let's Plays and streams of games get people to buy games and bring attention to the game. Companies could restrict/control this stuff, but they don't because they would actually lose money by doing so.

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#42 Edited by htr10 (1056 posts) -

@icyeyes: In some cases, the streamers are being paid, which raised that whole issue of disclosure a while back.

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#43 Posted by IcyEyes (609 posts) -

@htr10:Exactly! The point being that the exact opposite is actually already a thing. So why would you start charging the very people who get paid to do it already?

There's a very easy answer here; Just charge whatever percentage you think is right for your game. If streamers think it's too much then they simply wont stream your game. It's then up to the developer to decide if that's a good business strategy and/or if they're asking too much. Essentially, just let the free market decide.

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#44 Edited by Onemanarmyy (4398 posts) -

At some point, the nature of streaming games will be adressed.

Streamers make a living adding their personality to games made by others.

Devs gain exposure / access to many eyeballs by letting the game be streamed. This might have a positive effect on games sold.

I feel like once all of this has to be properly codified, devs will push for a direct monetary return instead of the ephemeral 'exposure'. And i feel like it will be a solution where both parties have to add some water to the wine (is this an proverb english speakers know?). Devs will let streamers show 100% of the game and prioritize those folk for beta events (as already happens). Streamers will give them 10% of the money earned directly related to the streaming of said game.

Not necessarily my preference, but how i can see it going eventually. I also expect the big companies to have better leverage compared to a fragmented hardly-organized coalition of streamers.

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#45 Posted by Ares42 (4359 posts) -

Considering publishers are willing to pay streamers/youtubers to play their games I think it's pretty safe to say that they're getting more than their fair share when people do it for free.

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#46 Posted by Sergio (3625 posts) -

More than 0%, less than 30% for Let's Play videos. Actual review videos, not Lets Plays pretending to be reviews, should remain 0%.

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#47 Posted by soulcake (2773 posts) -

I would probably never buy a Life is Strange game but i'll watch Vinny play it. If you tube ever struck a deal with video game creators i think 5% would be fair for both the you tuber and the creator. But that's never gonna happen.

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#48 Posted by Bollard (8172 posts) -

I feel like you diluted the poll a little bit by having 20 options, I'm sure 5 would have been fine.

That said, as a game creator, I voted 0%.

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#49 Posted by forteexe21 (2028 posts) -

I haven't bought a game that GB did a full let's play/endurance run of. I havent watched the Persona 4 ER cause i play a ton of JRPGs but i wont buy Yakuza, MGS V, Until Dawn, etc. cause itll be just a waste of money if i wont be playing it. I dont watch any youtuber/lets player though so i dont know how game creators will get a cut of GB's premium membership.

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#50 Posted by mavs (386 posts) -

Youtube is already well on its way to killing off smaller channels, and medium-large ones will probably have to get under a media company's umbrella (or get big and be their own.) I voted 0% but that should actually be 'undefined' - it's going to be business vs. business and it's none of mine.

It seems perfectly reasonable for games which rely on widespread free streaming to exist (PUBG) and for games which aren't allowed to be streamed to also exist (Nintendo I guess, if they had their way.)