- YongYea speaks out against Google Stadia Creative Director after he said Twitch streamers should pay money for playing games to developers.
Recently Google Stadia Creative Director Alex Hutchinson talked about the recent DMCA strikes coming from music companies that led to Twitch sending out notices to all of its partners. Twitch streamers will no longer be able to play any copyrighted music unless they exclusively own them. While the stance of music companies is completely justified, it led to a lot of controversies because of how Twitch handled the affair. Needless to say, it spawned a lot of conversation and something recently that showed up on Twitter was Hutchinson’s take on the whole thing. He also added that streamers should be paying game developers and publishers money for using their games to generate money. It was definitely a hot take and people did not like it.
Streamers worried about getting their content pulled because they used music they didn’t pay for should be more worried by the fact that they’re streaming games they didn’t pay for as well. It’s all gone as soon as publishers decide to enforce it.
— Alex Hutchinson (@BangBangClick) October 22, 2020
Should Twitch Streamers Pay Game Developers Money?
Popular YouTuber YongYea put out a video talking about the recent discussions and also slammed the creative director on Twitter following his comments. One of the biggest issues with the comparison is that video games are very different from movies or music. You can technically watch a stream and experience a full movie. It would technically fall under piracy and it makes sense for movie makers to put a restriction on streaming publicly. If you buy or rent a DVD it should be yours to stream in your private home and with friends or family. Even the legality of sharing it with your friends and family can be debated for the case of media companies but they don’t go as far as to file lawsuits against home consumers.
This is where streaming services have benefited greatly. Netflix, Spotify and the likes have been killing it in the streaming market and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. People get to experience content without fully owning it, making it affordable and also beneficial for companies. Moreover, streaming services are affordable and allow consumers access to content for very cheap for just a couple dollars in some cases. But where do video games fit in?
One of the biggest differences between traditional media and video games is that you do not get to experience the same content as the person playing. If I download a movie off of a rental site and stream it to multiple people online, I am denying profits to the movie maker by sharing it illegally. Moreover I also have the opportunity to monetize my activity and asking for a much smaller cutoff for streaming. I could also be streaming on Twitch and making money doing the same (even though it is not allowed) and earn donations from my viewers or subscriptions for the same.
I find this thinking extremely ironic considering you have fanart of me, a streamer, as your banner from when I played Savage Planet https://t.co/vr4M8WjBAS
— Jacksepticeye (@Jack_Septic_Eye) October 23, 2020
Recently, the Indian Premier League and other sports events were being aired on Twitch which caused government intervention. There are a lot of shady pirate streams that happen that do deserve to be banned but talking about video games requires a lot more discussion.
Playing the Devil’s Advocate
When it comes to legalities of streaming video games on Twitch and if game developers should get money from players, here’s what we need to think about. Hutchinson isn’t entirely incorrect in his stances. Just because publishers and developers never enforced the law does not mean that the laws don’t exist. When you purchase a game, you purchase the right to play it not redistribute it. But is streaming redistribution? Depends on who you ask.
If you look at the demographics of Twitch, it is very hard to say what the reason behind watching streams is. While a lot of people come to watch just to watch the streamer, some also come to catch up on gameplay they cannot themselves experience. The actual percentages and demographics are, of course, unknown but the coin definitely has both sides. Video games are very similar to movies, tv shows and other forms of media. They require a license to be used for display to the public. And such licenses are never sold to the mass audience which makes Hutchinson’s case to begin with.
Surprisingly, following the tirade on Twitter Hutchinson updated his bio. Previously he wrote that he is the creative director of Stadia but it got updated to creative director at SG&E Montreal Studio which is two different things altogether. It is a verified account so we do not know for sure if he just wanted to spark some flame and was looking for attention as a former employee of Google that has nothing to do with the brand’s vision for gamers which YongYea updated in his video.