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.

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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
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.

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