Nintendo wants some of that money you’re making from YouTube, and if it can’t have it all, it’s happy to just take a piece.

The Japanese publisher revealed today that it will start a YouTube affiliate program that will have it splitting advertising revenue with video creators. People can currently make videos of games like Super Mario 3D World or Mario Kart 8, put ads in front of them, and split revenue the revenue from those commercials with Google. Nintendo’s new program will enable it to come in and take a chunk of the revenue as well. The company did not detail how it will split up the money.

Nintendo is starting to implement this plan immediately by tagging all recently uploaded YouTube videos of its games as copyrighted material. It will soon announce how the people who made those videos (and are no longer seeing any money from them) can join the affiliate program.

Nintendo provided the following statement to GamesBeat regarding this new program:

Nintendo has been permitting the use of Nintendo copyrighted material in videos on YouTube under appropriate circumstances.  Advertisements may accompany those videos, and in keeping with previous policy that revenue is shared between YouTube and Nintendo.  In addition, for those who wish to use the material more proactively, we are preparing an affiliate program in which a portion of the advertising profit is given to the creator. Details about this affiliate program will be announced in the future.

This isn’t the first time Nintendo has tried to get between YouTube creators and ad revenue. Last May, the company started flagging hundreds of clips using the video site’s Content ID system. This prevented people making videos using Nintendo games from generating money, and the preroll ads benefited Nintendo instead. YouTube producers and fans of the videos claimed that Nintendo was acting unfairly, and many threatened to stop covering the publisher’s games. This eventually prompted the Mario publisher to back off and restore the rights to video makers.

Clearly, Nintendo hasn’t given up on the idea of making cash from the videos featuring its products, and it’s possible that producers will respond better to the new program than they did to Nintendo’s last attempt. At the same time, Nintendo may set a new precedent that is potentially unfriendly to video creators. Plenty of publishers and developers already give YouTube producers full permission to make clips and to put ads in front of them. This move could disrupt that.

Additionally, this affiliate program likely won’t only apply to people making gameplay and walkthrough videos — Nintendo may require critics to get permission. That could generate a conflict of interest since it’s possible that the publisher could cancel the person’s affiliate status if they say something negative.

Mario Kart 8 Sunshine Airport


Nintendo’s announcement is the latest development in the rapidly shifting relationship between game creators, players, and YouTube. The video site has helped dozens of video makers make a living from playing games, but it has also tended to favor the rights of corporations in disputes. In December, YouTube came under fire for enabling companies to flag gameplay videos for copyright violations even when those companies did not own the games in question. This culminated in several instances where developers were seeing videos of their own games getting flagged.