|Do People Owe Publishers for Their 'Let's Play' Videos?
||[Jun. 27th, 2014|09:00 pm]
This link comes from my internet bud, dadxer.
In it, Phil Fish makes another strong take that goes wrong for him.
He expressed, on his social media account, that he thinks and feels he is entitled to compensation from people who play his game, Fez, in a video genre known as "Let's Play."
What is a Let's Play?
Let's Play videos are an entertainment avenue in which a person or persons play a video game and provide commentary while doing so.
I agree with the author, Erik Kain, in the sense that there is no actual case of piracy, as implied by Fish, with Let's Plays. They're different from other intellectual property, such as a piece of music, or a movie, because the main element for entertainment, playing the game yourself, is not possible. You're watching a video of someone else playing that game, and since the main mechanism that makes a game ... a game ... is not present, then there is no compromise of the game publisher's product.
As to whether or not Let's Plays actually contribute to more or less sales, I am not sure. But I would think that Let's Plays are almost like, or at least in some cases, a remote resemblance closest to a critic's review of a product. So maybe some Let's Plays by major video personas actually do influence a game's bottom line, but at their core, people are there for a demonstration of someone else playing the game.
In the grand scheme of things, in my opinion, it seems a bit incorrect for Phil Fish, and other game publishers who think like him, to expect their product's broadcast to have a monetary tribute paid.
That's a slippery slope that could really bust into critical reviews of pretty much anything, if you think about it. What if critical reviewers of movies, music, and every other form of IP had to pay the owner a cut to even speak their IP's name? And what happens if critics don't enjoy what they're critiquing? Does the tribute price increase, into a form of penalty?
When I watch a Let's Play, I do it for one of two reasons. I either want to figure out how to play the game better, or I want to watch the person playing. If I wanted to play the game myself, I'd do that. I can't play the game that the Let's Players are playing because I do not exist at that time and place where they are doing so. If I want to play, I would have to obtain the game and start playing it. The Let's Players do not constitute the game.
What do you think? Are those who fall into Phil's line of thought correct? Is there no difference between watching a Let's Play and playing the game? Should Let's Players have their revenues split with a piece to the publisher of the content they're playing?
As a post-script, I had two other reactions.
1) Let's Play video personality PewDiePie ... makes ... $4 million ... off of his videos? Wow. However, I shouldn't be surprised, really, because what he does is entertainment to the masses. It's not much different from a rock and roll band or a Broadway act doing their versions of entertainment.
2) And for Phil Fish, who most assuredly owns his right to opinion, I think it's fair for him to question the system. But in following gaming news, and reading about Fish, I think I sense a pattern with him, and such controversies. Phil seems to meet the cold business end of public opinion quite often, as of late. Each time, I believe this constant struggle, that being Phil vs. the World ... the common thread seems to fall upon the terms of Phil's granite-like sense of exceptionalism ... against the waters of reality.
Which is not to say that Phil Fish lacks uniqueness or specialness ... there will be only one Phil Fish.
However, he comes off to the public as a massive entity, full of the sense that he is superior of self. Unfortunately, for Phil, the world believes otherwise.
And one can always be special, without incurring the wrath of the public's collective voice. Special does not have to equal grand suffering, definitely not on the frequency and level that Phil Fish experiences grief. And only Phil Fish can solve that riddle for himself.