Should YouTube & Twitch share revenue with game devs? One creator speaks out 

The revenue from let’s play videos and streaming is, in principle, earned by the content creators and video distribution platforms. A Japanese game developer has recently raised concerns about the current structure and pointed out that revenue should also be shared with game developers. 

This sentiment was shared by Hiromichi Takahashi, president of AMATA, who previously worked as the director of Doko Demo Issyo at Sony Interactive Entertainment. AMATA is a game company that has so far developed VR titles such as The Tale of Onogoro and Last Labyrinth. 

*Last Labyrinth -Lucidity Lost-, a non-VR version of Last Labyrinth, will be available for Xbox One/Xbox Series X|S on May 15 

Takahashi first pointed out that YouTube and Twitch are technically able to detect what games are featured in the videos being posted and streamed on their platforms. In 2019, Twitch acquired the Internet Game Database (IGDB), an online database about games, which is used to obtain data about game titles and genres. YouTube also has a feature that detects the game being played in a video and automatically generates a link to the game under the video description. 

Takahashi stated that using these features, a system should be introduced to distribute advertising revenue from video playback to game developers as well. In a subsequent tweet, he expressed his concern about the current revenue sharing structure. 

Tweet translation: Since it is technically possible to detect what games are being streamed on Youtube and Twitch, I think that game developers should also be given a share of the revenue generated from video playback and the like. The fact that the music industry is doing this, but the game industry isn’t doesn’t really sit right with me, because it means that they are not willing to give back to the developers. 

On a related note, Twitch operates, which it uses as a database of game titles, and YouTube also automatically generates title links for game videos. In other words, both platforms are able to identify the titles of games featured in videos. 

Effectiveness as advertisement and loss of opportunity 

While acknowledging that let’s plays and livestreams are a good way to promote games, Takahashi pointed out that some games have little benefit from them as far as advertising goes. He explained that for adventure games and other types of games which end up being consumed just through watching the video, it is difficult to determine how much the game is being promoted and how much it ends up being a loss of opportunity. 

In other words, in the case of linear story-driven games, if people experience the entire story through the video, they are likely to lose the desire to buy and play the game themselves. This means that there is a relatively high possibility of losing sales to potential customers. 

Perhaps to prevent such potential losses,  streaming guidelines have been established for some games. The title Tsukihime -A piece of blue glass moon-, which was released in Japan in August 2021, is one such example, as it is prohibited to share a large portion of the game online. The Persona and Danganronpa series also have guidelines regarding livestreams and video content. 

Takahashi expressed the concern that if the current revenue sharing structure is left in place, the types of games which lose opportunity in this way may gradually stop being made. He also states that this could lead to a loss of diversity in games. In fact, as far as we can observe, there are a great many parties in the industry which are concerned about these points. 

On a related note, there are some systems in place that do allow game developers to receive revenue from video content and livestreams. For example, Niconico has a system that allows users to specify the game featured when posting and streaming videos, thereby providing incentives to game developers. PLAYISM, a publishing brand operated by Active Gaming Media (the owner of this website), also works with Niconico in this way. 

On the other hand, this kind of system requires cooperation between the game developer/publisher and the video distribution platform; so whether a similar system can be implemented on YouTube and Twitch is also up to these parties. In any case, there may continue to be calls for change in the revenue sharing structure for game-related content on platforms such as YouTube and Twitch. 

Written by. Amber V based on the original Japanese article (original article’s publication date: 2023-04-27 20:20 JST)