Quest Log is a feature in which I set out on adventure to learn how something works. This might be game mechanics, social issues, or technology. The goal is to gain a greater understanding of the topic and spread awareness.
Ever the controversy pot, Phil Fish has once again opened his mouth and revealed he’s a very moody and mean man! His remarks? Youtubers should pay game creators a portion of their ad revenue. Most of it.
As a gamer, as someone who doesn’t create games, I disagree. If I buy a car and record myself driving it, I don’t owe the manufacturer money from ad revenue of my videos. His comments even call into question writing reviews. I use screenshots all the time of my games when I write about them. If my blog were generating money, is he saying that for those specific reviews, I should pay the company money for the use of the screenshots?
At what point are my game experiences my own? I think this ties in with the question I posed the other day of player rights when it comes to games. At current, the industry is solidly using the traditional software model, where players simply license the use of the game. It’s like buying a subscription to Netflix, rather than buying the DVD. I don’t own Mad Men. I’m allowed to rent it’s use each month.
To be clear, let’s look at a single EULA for Square Enix (they aren’t all that unique or special, most game EULAs look exactly like this). The first thing it states (after the introduction) is that purchase of their game is simply the purchase of a license. The player owns nothing, not even their avatar, not even items they purchase in an item shop. We technically don’t even own the screenshots we take.
Square Enix grants to you the non-exclusive, non-transferable, limited right and license to install and use one (1) copy of the Game Software on one (1) computer hard drive at any given time solely for your personal use (the “License”). All rights not specifically granted under this License are hereby reserved by Square Enix and, as applicable, by its licensors. The Game Software is licensed to you, not sold.
This quote speaks for itself.
In Fish’s view, gamers don’t even own the experiences they share with other gamers. If I decide to record myself playing a game, even after I bought it, even though the camera is mine and the controllers and the TV — of all companies to owe, I owe the game developer because the content of my show is considered to be theirs in Fish’s view. I think this approach isn’t just unreasonable, but irresponsible. If developers aren’t making games so that players can share their experiences with other players, then they ought not release them to the public. His reasoning ignores that developers enter into convenants with players foremost in the specific hopes that those players will help them sell their games. This doesn’t just count for streamers and vloggers. Anyone who purchases a game anywhere does so with the developer expectation that you will tell your friends about it and those friends will then buy it. Ignoring the unspoken bargain that developers strike with players is dishonesty at best about how game proliferation actually works.
I think this example goes to show that we do need a player’s rights document, because left to developers like Fish, players would not own the energy and time we spend playing games for audiences. I own my labor, no? I can sell it to advertisers in turn for playing my game for other players. According to the EULA, I can install my game on my computer and play it even if friends are around, even if the neighborhood is looking at my screen. Besides that, consumer law allows me to do what I want, short of selling copies or infringing copyright, with what I purchase. Aside from legal implications, it’s just kinda mean spirited to feel like your players owe you money because their friends watched them play and another company paid you for it.
What do you think? Should you have to pay game developers when you make money from sharing your gaming sessions?