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Nintendo Ends Its Creator Program, Revamping Its Image and Repairing Relationships

Culture

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After years of cultivating a contentious relationship with its YouTuber fans, Nintendo has loosened its grip on its intellectual property.

Games like Mario Kart and Super Smash Brothers have created superfans of Nintendo products. However, those wanting to show their fandom on YouTube or Twitch found themselves severely challenged by Nintendo’s harsh policies on content sharing. This week, the reins have finally been loosened, as Nintendo announced the end of its controversial Nintendo Creators Program (NCP).

The Next Web described NCP as “a protection racket for YouTube videos,” developed to ensure that Nintendo got a considerable amount of creator profit when gameplay videos were shared. According to Eurogamer, prior versions of the creator agreement had Nintendo aiming to take 100 percent of revenue from content featuring their characters or intellectual property, monetizing whole user channels regardless of how much Nintendo-based content was on it, and demonetizing all user videos who weren’t approved. “The company [was] notorious for bringing the hammer down on anyone using their intellectual property, and on YouTube that took the form of content ID claims” starting in 2014, The Next Web reported. Other methods included shutting down fan projects outright, and sending cease-and-desist letters to emulators that hosted Nintendo games.

Forbes contributor Paul Tassi summed up the company’s ill-advised approach in 2015: “This is utter insanity, and shows just how badly Nintendo misunderstands the entire YouTube scene.”

Years later, perhaps recognizing that this approach was hurting both their online presence and their perception from otherwise loyal users, the NCP is being replaced with a less stringent set of guidelines. Among the revised policies:

  • Creators who post content with Nintendo characters must “add their own distinctive stamp on the content” and not just post straight captures of gameplay
  • These policies apply to both videos and livestreams
  • Those wishing to monetize their content now do so through the platform in question (Twitch’s Affiliate Program or YouTube’s Partner Program), rather than through Nintendo directly.

And above all—literally, the language opens their new guidelines—Nintendo seems to want to acknowledge their appreciation for the fandom that the considerable content sharing indicates. This is an important lesson for brands aiming to balance control of their image and online presence, with their relationship to consumers and brand superfans.

“We are humbled every day by your loyalty and passion for Nintendo’s games, characters and worlds, and respect that you want to be able to express yourself creatively by sharing your own original videos and images using content from our games,” they say to open the page. By making it easier for enthusiasts to demonstrate that loyalty and passion, they aim to mend what had previously been a tense and needlessly contentious relationship with fans.

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