Why the Nintendo Creators Program Is Doomed to Fail

Though many are racing to sign up for Nintendo's new YouTube program, many creators are outright rejecting it.

Nintendo is no stranger to keeping a tight leash on its games.

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Even way back during the NES days, Nintendo was known for their insanely strict content standards which barred things like blood or religious imagery. That mentality hasn’t changed with the rise of YouTube. While some game companies have relaxed their policies to allow Let’s Players and online reviewers show their games freely, Nintendo continues to take down videos for even the smallest of infractions. Nintendo will even take down videos that are overwhelmingly positive, which has been frustrating popular YouTubers (language warning).

It seems Nintendo is looking to loosen the reigns a bit by introducing the Nintendo Creators Program beta, which presents itself as a way for YouTubers to use copyrighted Nintendo content in return for a small percentage of the money made from the video.

On the surface it doesn’t sound like a bad deal at all. In fact, so many people are signing up for the program that Nintendo is struggling to process all the registrations.

A lot of popular YouTube personalities, however, are against the program entirely.

This is just a small sampling of the distaste for the new program and it’s not hard to see why. Let’s delve into this new program and see exactly why this program, despite such a fast start, is inevitably doomed to failure.

Pitiful Selection Of Supported Games

The first place to start is in the List of Supported Games. You see, signing up for this program doesn’t allow you to use any Nintendo property you want. Instead, you have to only use games from the pre-selected white list. While there are many popular titles, there are some rather glaring omissions.

According to this program, you are not allowed to show content from games like….

  • Punch-Out!! (NES version)
  • Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64)
  • Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (N64)
  • Any version of Super Smash Bros
  • Any version of Pokémon
  • Any N64 version of Mario Party
  • Star Fox 64 (N64)

…you can be a part of the Nintendo Creators Program and still have your video taken down…

These are just the most glaring omissions to the program that have been staples in YouTube videos for years. This includes anything from gameplay videos to sound clips, which means you can be a part of the Nintendo Creators Program and still have your video taken down for having the Shop theme from Majora’s Mask playing in the background. That is ludicrous. It gets even worse when you look deeper into the wording of the contract.

Your Channel/Video can only use the program’s approved games

If you look at the Nintendo Creators Program guide, there’s a passage that Nintendo felt was so important that it’s in red font (bold added for emphasis):

You can only use channels or videos that contain copyrighted content related to game titles specified by Nintendo, and they must be your original creations. Be sure your videos do not contain copyrighted material from third parties or content from unconfirmed game titles.

This is painted with such broad strokes that it makes some of the most popular YouTube content impossible. This wording means if you were to, say, create a “Top Ten Best NES Games of All Time” video, you can’t include clips from Castlevania and Ninja Gaiden alongside The Legend of Zelda or Super Mario Bros.


Under the current program guidelines, you wouldn’t be allowed to make Pokémon Nuzlocke videos, which are a favorite among YouTube viewers. [Picture credit: DeeJaysArt1993]

This wording means if you were to, say, create a “Top Ten Best NES Games of All Time” video, you can’t include clips from Castlevania and Ninja Gaiden alongside The Legend of Zelda or Super Mario Bros.

That’s just for if you’re submitting individual videos. If you want to submit a channel to get a 70% revenue split instead of 60%, that means you can’t have footage from any unapproved games on your channel at all. No uploading your Super Smash Bros for Wii U matches, no uploading your Ocarina of Time speedrun, and god help you if you wanted to post any opinions about E3 trailers.

Not being able to show content from third-party games/systems or anything not specifically on the games list (including upcoming Nintendo games) makes it impossible for a YouTuber to create the popular content that drive the views that create ad revenue in the first place. Of course, what you actually get in ad revenue is another matter entirely.

The Devil is in the Details

So you created a channel solely dedicated to the games on the Nintendo Creators Program white list and you’re ready to get that sweet 70% revenue share. Well, maybe or maybe not, depending on Nintendo’s mood. Here’s another excerpt from the Registration Rules:

The advertisement revenue share is 70% for channels and 60% for videos. (This rate may be changed arbitrarily.)

Did you catch that little piece of wording in the parenthesis? It means that Nintendo can completely change at any time how much a creator gets in revenue share without any warning for any reason.

There are people who make a living creating and monetizing YouTube videos. For them, this is like the company you work for saying that they’ll pay you $12 dollars an hour, unless they feel like paying you $5 dollars…maybe. When you’re trying to make a living, that kind of payment system simply doesn’t work.

What the Nintendo Creators Program Actually Is

Nintendo is trying to advertize its new program as a way for YouTubers to get paid without fear of reprisal, but that’s not what this program is at all. This program is a lazy attempt at controlling what YouTubers create by forcing them to show a very specific list of games and nothing else. That’s the reason extremely popular games like Ocarina of Time and Star Fox 64 aren’t allowed but their 3D updates on the Nintendo 3DS are.

This program is a lazy attempt at controlling what YouTubers create by forcing them to show a very specific list of games and nothing else.

The program is still in beta and a lot can still be changed, but Nintendo cannot hide what the purpose of the Nintendo Creators Program truly is:

It’s Nintendo’s attempt to impose the same control it once had long ago, but doesn’t realize that it can never have that same power again. This mentality has created a program that will only drive YouTubers away from showing any Nintendo content. That scenario is a lose-lose situation where YouTubers can’t make videos about their favorite Nintendo games, which means fewer opportunities for Nintendo to profit from one of the fastest growing entertainment mediums in the world.

The Gatekeepers of an Abandoned Road

The Nintendo Creators Program is doomed from the get-go because Nintendo continues to keep a mentality that hasn’t made sense since the PlayStation entered the console market. With a mindset that’s stuck back in the ’80s, it’s no wonder they can’t understand that popular YouTubers like PeanutButterGamer and Angry Joe should be treated like lucrative partners instead of black market resellers.

Until Nintendo learns to understand that, YouTube creators will simply continue to make videos about games from companies that know how to do what Nintendon’t.

[For another perspective on the Nintendo Creators Program, check out Lampstradamus’ article here]


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WesleyG
I'm a freelance contributor that adores the art and culture of gaming. I'm an indie game enthusiast who loves supporting a game with a small budget and new ideas. I also love pro wrestling, tabletop RPGs, and Cadbury Creme Eggs.