How to Stream Nintendo Games Without Suffering A Lawsuit

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This is a guest post by Scott Campbell of Two Button Crew.

So, you want to stream Nintendo games, huh? I don’t blame you! They make the best first party games. An incredible amount of polish and attention to detail goes into every title that the Japanese game developer publishes.

The origin of these games does bring up an interesting point to consider, however: there’s quite a big culture difference between Nintendo and many of their competitors in the market. They make weird decisions that don’t always make sense to their fans here in America, Europe, or elsewhere around the globe. Sometimes the ways that Nintendo interacts with their fans can only be described as “backwards.”

Let me put it bluntly: They don’t make it easy for you to stream their content. You’re in for a bit of an uphill battle, but don’t let me discourage you! It’s totally possible to get a stream up and running for your Nintendo console.

Well — as long as we’re talking about a home console and not a portable.

For 3DS games, you’re out of luck. You basically have to have a development kit to get any kind of capture device rigged up to your handheld.

So let’s keep the discussion focused on their home consoles, and away we go!

Streaming As A Nintendo Fan

I’m about as big of a fan of Nintendo as you can get. I buy everything they release and I make videos about their stuff on a daily basis. My free time is devoted to this company, which is why I hope you’ll understand when I say I’ve never even touched an Xbox One or Playstation 4 controller. I don’t think I’ve even been in the same room as one (I need to diversify my friends).

But I hear that Microsoft and Sony fans have it a bit easier with streaming. PS4 has a share button that you just press to start your broadcast? Those guys are spoiled!

Nintendo has never catered to streaming culture. They’ve never made it easy to stream their games — it’s not built into the hardware in any way. That is… until now (hopefully!). You see, there is a Share button on their newest product, the Nintendo Switch which launches on March 3rd, 2017. I can’t wait to get my hands on this console, but when I bring it home on launch day it’s still not going to be equipped with built-in streaming capabilities — even with the Share button. It’s only going to take screenshots out of the box.

They say that some form of video sharing is on its way, so let’s keep our fingers crossed.

That’s not to say that Nintendo’s hardware prevents you from streaming — you can still arrange a setup that works. For me, I have a Live Gamer Portable device that accepts HDMI (for Wii U, Switch) and AV (for Wii). It works very well, and I was able to purchase it for around $100. Not bad to get started with streaming Nintendo games!

Nintendo Creators Program

But not so fast. You see, Nintendo doesn’t like you uploading footage of their games to YouTube and making a profit on them.

There’s nothing they can really do about the ad revenue you receive as you are live on YouTube Gaming or Twitch, but they will seize the AdSense you would normally get off your replays.

Your videos with Nintendo content will get flagged instantaneously — you won’t even have time to adjust your video titles, descriptions, or make them go live before they’re claimed by the Big N.

This is one of the main frustrations that Nintendo fans experience as they get into streaming. Why? Because many other companies just aren’t like this. And that’s because they view streamers as “free advertising,” which makes sense. YouTubers and streamers are what game developers call “influencers,” because they/we get the word out about video games. We play the ones we like (usually) and the audience sees us having a great time! Many publishers thank streamers for showing off their product so much.

Nintendo doesn’t see it that way. They see videos featuring their IP and decide that they should control who gets the ad money.

Thankfully, they don’t take it all. The company offers the Nintendo Creators Program which ultimately allows you to receive a portion of the profits from your YouTube videos, whether they are replays from a live stream or original content featuring gameplay property they own.

You sign up for the NCP with your Google account, and you’re faced with two options.

The Limited Options

You can either register your entire channel under the NCP banner, or you can choose to submit flagged videos individually and request part of your revenue back.

Option 1 allows you to receive 60%, and option 2 qualifies you for 50%. Keep in mind, these cuts are of the portion not already kept by YouTube itself.

The problem is, option 1 is basically fit for no one but Nintendo’s own YouTube channel. If you register your entire channel, you’re not allowed to feature gameplay from any other company other Nintendo.

Yep — you’re locked in to Nintendo gameplay videos if you want to earn the greater portion of your revenue back.

So, inevitably, you’ll choose option 2 and submit each video flagged by Nintendo, and hope they agree to split the profit with you.

The Abysmal Nintendo Creators Program Whitelist

The reason I say “hope” is because not even every Nintendo game qualifies for this rev-share model. Buried within the NCP program is what they call a whitelist (link for your convenience). Games that are on this list qualify for submission!

Why Nintendo limits this list, I have no idea.

The entire Super Smash Bros. series is notably absent, which drives me nuts because it has a thriving eSports scene and Nintendo should be throwing those fans a bone. Smash players are Nintendo’s most dedicated, hardcore, loyal customers. How do I know? Because they still haul around their Gamecubes and 50 pound CRT televisions to play Super Smash Bros. Melee!

NES Remix for Wii U is whitelisted.
NES Remix 2 is not.

…What?

I’m sorry, I can’t make sense of it for you. I wish I could.

The Principal

After you jump through a few hoops, you’ll be set. Once you get past the NCP registration and the hardware setup, a lot of this nonsense kind of fades into the back of your mind as you start enjoying the games on their own merit and connect with your audience.

Should Nintendo be more understanding to streamers? Yes, they should. But they could also just seize all profits and choose not to offer the NCP, so I won’t complain too much.

The slice of advertising revenue isn’t really worth it to me, so I’m planning on switching revenue models soon. Ads aren’t the only way to make money playing games! I’m signed up to Garrett’s newsletter where he gives some great tips on a variety of different gaming business plans, so subscribe to that if you’re not already.

I don’t want to worry about the ad revenue — I just want to have fun playing Nintendo games and making friends with my viewers! Like I said, I’m a dedicated Nintendo fan. I run a YouTube channel that puts out daily content — discussions, reviews, streams — you name it. Check us out at Two Button Crew — we cover the latest developments in the Nintendo sector every single day, and we have literally hundreds of videos for you to browse in the backlog! We’d love to see you around and welcome you to the Crew.

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