Fez Creator Phil Fish: YouTubers Should Pay Game Devs "Huge Portion" of Revenue

The outspoken developer weighs in on what YouTube users owe the developers of the games they broadcast.

by

Update: After initially protecting his account so that his tweets could only be viewed by approved followers, it would now seem that Fish has deleted his Twitter account altogether.

Original Story: The subject of what YouTube users who make use of game footage owe those games' developers--if anything--has been a hot-button issue for some time now. Count Fez creator Phil Fish among those who believe YouTubers are not entitled to make money broadcasting games without sharing the revenue, as the outspoken developer took to Twitter today to share his views on the matter.

"YouTubers should have to pay out a huge portion of their revenue to the developers from which they steal all their content," Fish said in the first of a series of tweets. "[Ad] revenue should be shared with developers," he continued. "This should be built into YouTube. Anything else is basically piracy."

He then tweeted several more times, as follows:

  • "If you generate money from putting my content on your channel, you owe me money. Simple as that."
  • "If you buy a movie, are you then allowed to stream the entirety of it publicly for people to watch for free? No, because that's illegal."
  • "Systems are in place to prevent that. But buy Fez, put ALL of it on YouTube, turn on ads, make money from it and that's TOTALLY FINE."
  • "And the developer should in NO WAY be compensated for their work being freely distributed to the world. Right. Makes sense."
Phil Fish

Perhaps in response to a surge of tweets from those who disagree with him, Fish followed all of this with a tweet simply stating, "Nevermind." As of this writing, Fish has protected his Twitter account, making it so that only his followers can view his tweets. It's worth noting that, prior to today, he had tweeted very little this year.

Fish is hardly the only one in the industry to feel they are owed something by YouTube users who make money by showing footage of their games. Earlier this year, Nintendo began claiming ad revenue from user-created YouTube videos that featured the company's games. More recently, it announced an affiliate program that will see it split ad revenue with video creators, though it has yet to reveal any specific details regarding how it will work or what the split will be.

Late last year, a new copyright policy enacted by YouTube resulted in a huge surge of copyright claims against videos featuring game footage. This led to companies such as Blizzard, Ubisoft, and Capcom (not to mention director Kevin Smith) offering support to video creators who had been affected. This also resulted in a list being created by indie developer Lars Doucet identifying which developers do and do not take issue with their games being streamed.

Fish has long been an outspoken member of the development community. In response to the harassment he receives from gamers, he said last summer that he had canceled development on a sequel to the acclaimed platformer Fez and was leaving the industry. On April Fool's Day, he claimed he had returned and that Fez II was back in development, but given the date, it's entirely possible he was joking. His company, Polytron, announced recently that it will begin serving as a publisher of sorts, beginning with Panoramical from the developers of Canabalt. It's worth noting that, prior to today, he had tweeted very little. Also of note is a video essay about Fish published earlier this week.

Lest you think the money generated from YouTube videos is insignificant, we learned this week that PewDiePie--one of the most popular gaming personalities on the site--earns an estimated $4 million per year.

Chris Pereira is a freelance writer for GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @TheSmokingManX
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Discussion

938 comments
brewstr
brewstr

Phil Phish is a weird dude - I still bought the game though.  Youtube videos?  Ok then...

Rakou
Rakou

I find it sad that a once successful Indie Dev reduced his own status to near nothingness. The business world is harsh, and I doubt any major company would want to have a tainted name like Phil Fish in their employee list.

k_escoe
k_escoe

well pewdiepie makes up to 4 million dollars a year with his lets play videos and he really doesnt do anything, and the devs on the other hand are lucky to even make a few hundred dollars. 

http://www.polygon.com/2014/6/17/5817118/how-much-does-pewdiepie-make


playing games for a large audience is kinda like uploading a movie that has just released in theaters onto youtube for your subscribers to watch. so in a way Phil has a point.

temporaltech
temporaltech

God, just shut up Fish. FEZ wasn't -THAT- good.

itamar_b_nachum
itamar_b_nachum

I'm a HUGE fan, Agree with you most times, But not this time.


Every Step you take, every choice you make, every button you click and pixel you see. is the result of hard and long work, provided to the player by the Developer team. Sure, players might find some thing that the Dev team missed or did not plan for. In some cases players will help the game designers polish there product. That is a greater, and wonderful thing, to see games grow and evolve based on player commentary.

How ever!

If you are not making any journalist work (i.e "WTF Is") but rather "Lats Plays". you are making money of a product you didn't help create nor help to sell or improve.

If you play in a Sand box the and create a  Sand Castle, that sand castle is yours, but not the Sand nor the box.

Big fan, and nothing but respect to your and your teams active role in the gaming community, Keep it up!

Best wishes!

DAOWAce
DAOWAce

Oh, this guy again..

patr01
patr01

FEZ was a Goddamn good game and the developers worked their a$$ off making it. I understand the developer's point of view but I guarantee that there are more people that will buy the game after they have seen a gameplay video than people that will watch the hole walktrough and be content with that, and I feel that it will counterproductive to discourage the YouTubers. Also the majority of a youtubers audience is there for his reaction when playing the game and not for the game itself. 

A good way to solve this is by releasing two versions of the game, one for personal use and a much more expensive one for commercial use like many software developers are doing from the beginning of time.

mfer2114
mfer2114

Is this the same wussy that said he would quit the game business because he got a little criticism from a commentator on GT? 

REDShadowG
REDShadowG

Is it just me or mister Phil shares more things with fish than just his surname? Like their brains for example.

jenovaschilld
jenovaschilld

I really in no way understand or desire to watch other people play videogames. I am to busy with my back catalog of games to care. 

But Fish above is right - his created art is his - and others using his creation to create content still requires the first owner to be compensated. Now after a certain amount of time 25yrs the copyright should run out and other can then use it free. 

Youtubes need to shut down all video posters using copyrighted content not approved by it original creator. The satyrical, review, and demo creations should still work like it does with any other forms of media. You can still use small parts of a game to review it, make fun of it, or demo it. 

gamer_guy777
gamer_guy777

The same people insulting Fish would be extremely furious if someone took their YouTube video; reposted and banked of it. Piracy is piracy. I can assure you the moment "YOUR" product is used, reproduced, or exploited in any way against your best interest you'd take legal action. I agree if you buy a product it is yours but things like movies; if you can see it free on youtube why pay? Now if you are the one making a living of said movie? Games ... Well it is different, however a short review or teaser is fine, even a how-to, but a full on gameplay? Really? Not illegal? How so? There are people who worked their *** off to make said product to make money not so that Mr/Mrs. YouTuber can ruin their revenue. Done right is different, done right is advertisement. But many of these videos aren't done in the publishers best interest. Defend it and you are defending not having rights protecting your product your image your privacy etc. these same laws you are against are the laws that keep you and your hard earned money safe. Food For Thought

Prithwiraj
Prithwiraj

Yeh, cos watching someone else play the game is exactly like playing it myself....


ParanoidPaal
ParanoidPaal

If I were him I'd also delete my twitter.

But still, lulz.

deathblow3
deathblow3

well i'm not a game watcher i am a game player i want to experience the game myself. and yes mister fish i can show a movie i bought for free to whom ever i want. or the whole country should be in jail everytime they show a dvd movie to anyone, sorry guys you can come over its illegal for you to be in the room while i watch this movie i bought. hey phil i can even sell it if i want

haze0986
haze0986

i somewhat agree, i didnt buy the last of us because i saw the entire game on youtube. which means the devs didnt get the money they would have if i didnt watch it

Bread_or_Decide
Bread_or_Decide

Every artist should leave the planet and let these self entitled pukes to themselves. Without our art you would be lost. You're not entitled to anything you spoiled brats. 

Bread_or_Decide
Bread_or_Decide

Normally you are free to use other peoples content if you don't make a profit. Streaming an entire game you didn't make and them making four million a year from it...cannot be legal.


Put up an episode of game of thrones with commentary. HBO will shut you down so fast you'll refresh the page and it will be gone.



mizasterj
mizasterj

If anything, developers should pay Youtubers a little because they are freely advertising their game, besided Tubers don't make ANYTHING, i should know i've been YTing for 5+ years.

jimmyCCFC
jimmyCCFC

Twitch, streaming and gaming videos are often more exciting than the game itself.

PeterDuck
PeterDuck

He is not totally wrong BUT the argument that Games were designed to be played and that Movies were designed to be watched is irrelevant since technology now allows for games to be easily watched on Youtube notwithstanding the main purpose of games.


Adding your own content to someone else's content though is not piracy and Fish should realize that. He should also realize that DJ's and clubs have to pay royalties to music creators if they use their music. But in many cases they don't pay if they use their own remix. But we know that it's the Youtubers' narration of the gameplay rather than actual gameplay that generates interest/views and revenue. So if this was ever taken to court then the two outcomes would either be:


-no commentary during gameplay videos; OR

-no advertising on videos with gameplay and commentary.


Broadly speaking, many copyright issues can be fixed if created content becomes a part of the public domain within set periods of time. Fish's kids should NOT be able to make money off of his game. Tolkien's kids should not be able to make money off of the dead man's creation.


A few side notes, Fish should realize that gameplay videos serve as free advertising for games.


Personally though, I realize that the youtubers do not create anything of real value with their gameplay videos in the first place.

korokun
korokun

Phil Fish can go lick a d**k, is what I initially thought when I read this article.

FELIXjk007
FELIXjk007

@k_escoe its nothing like that.   when you watch a movie the experience remains the same for ALL subsequent viewers.  How I play a videogame does not mean it will be the same for you, everyones experience is different.  as an example we will use one of the more popular youtube titles: Call of Duty.   I have already upped a video to demonstyate this....do you think Call of Duty plays the same for you as it does for , say, Randy Savage? Or maybe PewDiePie?  no, it does not.  It is 'your' experience, skill at the game and personality that makes the video you create entertaining. 

FELIXjk007
FELIXjk007

@gbrading a bitter little man who flushed a once promising career down the toilet.

tableofjapan
tableofjapan

@jenovaschilld


So, I owe someone money for the product I now officially own and paid $60 for?

no. I don't.

If started streaming GTA 5 and ROckstar told me I had to give them money, even though they made a BILLION DOLLARS in a 72 hour peroid, I would laugh right in their face and tell them to go F*ck themselves.

Fish is just being greedy at this point. 

hillyarb
hillyarb

It's true. I agree that, like movies, there needs to be restrictions. But there is another commodity that is strictly the players, skill. I think both parties stand to gain from each other. Nintendo sees that now and is trying to create a partnership. They will allow users to show their games in exchange for the user getting to show off their skills at the game. They split the revenue. Nintendo owns the rights to the game, the gamer "owns" the skills being broadcast. I think that's the direction that needs to be taken.

tableofjapan
tableofjapan

@gamer_guy777

I wouldn't be mad. If anything its free publicity for my game and would more then likely lead to people buying that game if they like what they see, instead of taking the 50/50 chance of buying a game without playing it first and risking if its even good or not.

Bread_or_Decide
Bread_or_Decide

@deathblow3 You cannot broadcast that movie in a theater or online. So no you can't. Read the fine print on that movie you purchased. You don't OWN the movie and your rights to watch it are specifically listed and limited to you and a small audience. 

raffirer
raffirer

@haze0986 This is ridiculous. You buy a game because you hear talk about the game. 


The most suspicious people only buy the game if has seen someone who has the game speak great things about, or purchase because saw someone playing and liked. Youtube gamers can reach to millions of people at the same time. Is not the same thing as your buddy who recommended for you the game. 

This works even better when you're indie and has no adequate disclosure, minecraft would not have the same fame he has today if it was not by the youtube on gameplays generating a positive review. The nintendo only not fail because it has exclusive games that are almost a legend. 


Imagine a whole new game and had nobody to promote on youtube. Would not sell 50% of what could.

Toranga12
Toranga12

@haze0986 really? i watched it all and i'm going to buy the better quality version when it's out... i think naughty dogs should pay to the youtuber in this case...

iamahamsandwich
iamahamsandwich

@Bread_or_Decide  Film and games are a very different art form. Good luck with your little crusade btw im sure that will turn out well.

Prithwiraj
Prithwiraj

@mizasterj I agree, there are many games i've bought cos of those you tube videos. Some of them i'd have never come across if not for these videos. 

DawnBlue
DawnBlue

@mizasterj Youtubers make a lot of money if they are good, just like other artists. Yes, I'm calling them artists, because in order to make money they need to have something that attracts a lot of people to watch.

haze0986
haze0986

@mizasterj youtubers make alot, youtube has made people millionaires, you need good original content to monetize your videos....you can make 1000 a day if your views and likes and such reach a certain number. clearly you know not what you speak, reviewtechusa quit his job to do youtube full time because hes making that much

FTWiener
FTWiener

@tableofjapan @jenovaschilld I am going to assume with a response like that you are underage, however, I will grace you with a reply. 

Read the EULA/Software Agreement. 90% of the time, you don't actually "own" the game. Rockstar's EULA says "Licensor hereby grants you the nonexclusive, non-transferable, limited right and license to use one copy of the Software for your personal non-commercial use" 

You are essentially purchasing a license to play the game indefinitely. Regardless, when you are attempting to make money off of someone else's idea, which is what a game is, you should have to pay the company. PewDiePie makes 4 million dollars a year by recording himself being an ass, where as these companies spend millions of dollars to create these games, only barely recouping the costs to develop the games. I'd say Phil is absolutely in the right here.


b8/10 - Made me reply

FTWiener
FTWiener

@DawnBlue @mizasterj You know what else makes money? Transformers 1, 2, 3, and soon to be 4. Are those art? Just because it's popular, doesn't make it art. It doesn't take an artist to barely play a video game and then regurgitate gratuitous amounts of profanity. They're more like con artists 

dlCHIEF58
dlCHIEF58

@tableofjapan @Bread_or_Decide

No you don't own anything but the disc the movie/game that it came on - you don't own the content that is on it, only a license to use it for your personal use. That does not give you the right to "share" it online or show/play it for large groups of people (referring specifically to movies/music here). 


However Fish is being a d-bag here regarding gameplay videos. No he is not owed anything from people showing his gameplay online as the movie example he uses is not a direct corollary to showing a play through of his game. Movies are not interactive, games are. His greed is showing again, just like it did when he refused to fix Fez on the 360 after HE screwed up his free patch and didn't want to pay to certify another patch to fix the game HE broke - just because it cut into his profit. 

robbanks78
robbanks78

@tableofjapan @Bread_or_Decide You have purchased a license for the 'content' whether it be a movie or game and that license has specific rules on how it can be used. Yes, you own the physical media (eg CD, blu-ray, etc...) but you do not own the content

iamahamsandwich
iamahamsandwich

@Bread_or_Decide @iamahamsandwich Lack of understanding on the subject, pretentious behaviour, calling everyone kids, no evidence or research whatsoever to present. Hmmm everyone should listen to you.


You should get out more often.

Bread_or_Decide
Bread_or_Decide

@iamahamsandwich What EVIDENCE do I need? Copyright law is very well known. Companies enforce it every damn day. Anyone who has taken a communications class knows they are not allowed to use existing assets unless they pay for them. You can't even use a copy right PHOTOGRAPH without getting into trouble.



iamahamsandwich
iamahamsandwich

@Bread_or_Decide @iamahamsandwich And the world to you seems so simple, you're very...so we say "typical". You're in for a rude awakening whenever you enter in anything involving business/politics/law (especially law).


FYI learn to read between the lines.