Nintendo is lifting some of its heavy restrictions over how YouTube creators can monetize gameplay and livestream content with a new set of guidelines for creators announced on Wednesday evening.
YouTube creators who want to monetize their content no longer have to join Nintendo’s controversial specific partner program. Instead, those who work within YouTube’s Partner Program — a tier that allows the company to run ads on videos, letting creators earn ad revenue through Google’s AdSense — will simply qualify. As part of the policy change, Nintendo is closing its Creators Program next month.
“As long as you follow some basic rules, we will not object to your use of gameplay footage and/or screenshots captured from games for which Nintendo owns the copyright in the content you create for appropriate video and image sharing sites,” a statement on Nintendo’s website reads.
Those rules include providing unique commentary or “creative input.” That means Let’s Plays or livestreams that include some original commentary are acceptable. Prior to these changes, Nintendo specified that only videos uploaded through Nintendo’s Partner Program were viable for AdSense income, and the guidelines surrounding what footage could be used was much stricter. Nintendo’s new rules do state, however, that if creators “want to use the intellectual property of a third party, you are responsible for obtaining any necessary third-party permissions.” This means music from third-party artists can’t be used in those videos or livestreams, for example.
Nintendo’s new guidelines further state that uploading an “existing Nintendo video, gameplay footage without your own creative input, or a copy of content created by someone else,” is prohibited and will be removed. You will be able to “post gameplay videos and screenshots using Nintendo system features, such as the Capture Button on Nintendo Switch, without additional input or commentary.” That seems like a confusing distinction, but it would look like any footage captured directly via your Switch device is fair game.
The company’s decision to ease up on YouTube creators who want to use gameplay footage may be seen as many within the gaming community as a long-fought victory. Numerous game pundits on YouTube, including videogamedunkey and ProtoMario, have expressed their frustration with Nintendo’s monetization requirements. Nintendo’s new guidelines also extend to Twitch, where those within the Twitch Partner program can also now earn ad revenue on their streams.
It’s no coincidence that Nintendo’s lifting its tough restrictions ahead of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate launching on the Switch. The game has a dedicated community surrounding it, and it’s expected to be one of Nintendo’s biggest games this year. Allowing people to upload and monetize tutorials, livestream matches, and provide other useful videos is a way to work with the YouTube community ahead of the game’s launch.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will be released on Dec. 7.