The New Nintendo 3DS XL Commercials are a Victim of Awkward Timing

Tonight, Nintendo unveiled something they rarely show these days, honest-to-goodness television advertising. In this case, it was a pair of launch ads for the New Nintendo 3DS XL, arriving in North America this Friday. On the one hand, the commercials are predictable and dull, lacking any real personality.

What makes them interesting is that Nintendo actually recruited some YouTube personalities to shill their product, with stars like Jesse Cox and Cupquake sighted. The timing on these commercials is coincidental, as the company recently disclosed their Nintendo Creators Program, which has polarized many other YouTubers over its restrictive rules.

Nintendo previously made no bones that it would begin claiming videos of their content for revenue. Suddenly, Let’s Players of Nintendo games could not make any ad revenue from their free advertising of Nintendo games; only Nintendo could. In response, Nintendo announced the Nintendo Creators Program, in which video makers could now get a cut of ad revenue while the rest would be shared with Nintendo, up to 60 or 70 percent to be exact.

But, there’s always a catch.

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U

YouTubers can not make ad money off of any old Nintendo videos, but instead must be pre-approved to upload any videos with ads…from a white list of a selective bunch of Nintendo games. Noticeably missing were any games Nintendo deemed “from third parties”. So some of the most popular, and profitable, games published by Nintendo like Pokémon and Super Smash Bros. (and Bayonetta 2, which they published) are missing from millions of eyeballs and are not allowed for discussion. All because of the complicated licensing issues that should not have to be this complicated for people to understand.

You Tube Creators Program

What makes this list of rules even more confounding is that YouTubers who sign up for the program can only upload videos from Nintendo’s list, and no one else. Besides Nintendo-published games not on the white list, any videos based on Sony or Microsoft (and so much more) will automatically disqualify you from ad revenue. No one who covers games from multiple publishers, and has a pre-existing subscriber base, wants to delete their videos and start afresh with Nintendo content alone.

Needless to say, plenty of people are making their disapproval of this program clear. PewdiePie is the most prominent personality to step forth and vocally criticize Nintendo’s program. “I also think this is a slap in the face to the YouTube channels that does focus on Nintendo game exclusively. The people who have helped and showed passion for Nintendo’s community are the ones left in the dirt the most,” he said on his Tumblr blog. “when there’s just so many games out there to play, Nintendo games just went to the bottom of that list.”

YouTube played a role in Minecraft's rise to prominence, and vice-versa

A model example of how free advertising can benefit a game, which PewdiePie cited, is Minecraft. Such a game came to incredible prominence and word-of-mouth thanks to YouTube “Let’s Plays”. Even Mojang itself appreciates, and does not care to step on, the success of these videos. As Mojang’s chief operating officer Vu Bui explained, “That doesn’t take anything away from us, and I would say it actually adds value to Minecraft, to have people who are extremely talented and creative doing things. We’ve essentially outsourced YouTube videos to a community of millions of people, and what they come up with is more creative than anything we could make ourselves.”

There’s no mistaking how stingy Nintendo’s program is, despite a notable step upwards from the 100% revenue they claimed on ads just last year. Though in early beta stages (and surprisingly being drowned in high traffic), it’s pretty clear Nintendo needs to adopt changes that make more people happy to play Nintendo games and share a cut of the ad money. Nintendo has done much good with their own YouTube efforts of late, as with Nintendo Minute and allowing their games to be captured in online videos at all, but they have a long way to go in understanding what YouTubers want, which is the freedom to express themselves however they choose.

And what would the stars that appeared in Nintendo’s New 3DS XL commercials have to say about the company’s arcane program? Rather than be paid off, they must be the ones who set an example, after all, if we are to enjoy Nintendo videos on YouTube in the future.

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Editor-in-Chief (Former)

A man with a plan. My favorite video game franchise is Pokemon, but his favorite video game is Resident Evil 4. I can also tell you trivial cartoon factoids.