Nintendo’s reputation for being extremely strict when it comes to intellectual property is well-known, and its recent actions show that it can also be capricious. In the lead-up to the release of the Zelda game Tears of the Kingdom, Nintendo demonetized a large amount of YouTuber content for the Zelda franchise, even including content that had been around for a while. This move seems particularly tone-deaf, as many of these creators were instrumental in building hype around the franchise, and it comes just as the new game is about to be released.
It all started with Eric “PointCrow” Morino, a YouTuber who does speedruns of games. Morino commissioned a mod for Breath of the Wild that made the game multiplayer and put out some videos of it in action. A few days later, Morino reported that Nintendo had hit him with copyright infringement claims that led to some of his biggest YouTube videos being demonetized. He tweeted his disappointment and shared a screenshot of his flagged videos, including ones featuring gameplay footage from the multiplayer mod.
Many publishers don’t bother with going after streamers who are showing off a game’s gameplay, as these videos often help to promote and sell the games for free. However, Nintendo is not most publishers. While many people initially thought that Morino’s use of the mod was what landed him in Nintendo’s crosshairs, it soon became clear that the company was going after even more YouTubers streaming Zelda content.
In response to Morino’s post, several other big content creators chimed in, expressing their disappointment and concern. They pointed out that this move could backfire for Nintendo, as content creators may choose not to create videos around the new game, potentially limiting its reach.
Morino pleaded with Nintendo to rescind the copyright claims on his videos, but instead, the company fired off even more. He now says that Nintendo has claimed copyright over 20 additional videos spanning his entire content making career. While most of them included the word “mod” in the title, at least one contained just vanilla gameplay with commentary. “These takedowns may have started with modded content, but they’ve spiraled into something else entirely,” Morino said in his latest video.
Morino is no longer the only one affected by Nintendo’s actions. Another Zelda YouTuber, Croton, said that ten of their streams and two of their videos were “nuked” from the platform, including one that had nothing to do with mods and was simply a Zelda challenge run. These moves seem to have only increased the backlash against Nintendo and the company’s strict IP policies.
Many are left scratching their heads as to why Nintendo would take this stance, particularly ahead of a new AAA release. It seems like a completely tone-deaf move that could ultimately hurt the company’s bottom line. These content creators were unpaid brand ambassadors who helped to build excitement around the franchise, and many fans are disappointed to see them being targeted in this way.
It’s important to note that this move is not new for Nintendo, as the company has a long history of being strict about its IP. However, it does seem like the company is shooting itself in the foot by alienating its most passionate fans and content creators. This move could have far-reaching consequences for the company’s relationship with its fanbase, and it remains to be seen whether Nintendo will change course in response to the backlash.