제 2 호 Video Game Streaming: Copyright Infringement or Useful Advertising?
Video Game Streaming:
Copyright Infringement or
Min gyeong Lee, Editor
"Game streaming helps to promote games."
"Broadcasts that are not allowed by game makers violate the maker's economic interests.”
These days, online streamers who broadcasts themselve online through a live stream or pre-recorded video are in the limelight. One of the world's top YouTubers, “Pewdiepie,” who has the most subscribers for a long time has attracted attention by showing interesting reactions during gameplay (currently, he changed the main content). In the early 2010's, his popularity contributed to streaming games becoming established among YouTube's popular content. From then on, claims that exposing game content may damage game makers have begun to be steadily raised. As he was aware of such arguments, he only played the beginning of some games like Indie games, video games which are developed by individuals, small teams, or small independent companies (They are often created without the financial support of a publisher, although some games funded by a publisher are still considered independent) and he recommended that his subscribers play the rest of the games.
“Great library” is also a game streamer who is paid the most attention by Korean media among the individual online broadcasters. When the game company Capcom protested against him in relation to the company's game copyright, instead of making an apology or dealing with the license, he countered to the company disrespectfully. The similar kinds of behavior were repeated by him and evoked an uproar online. This is one of the reasons why he is constantly criticized by gamers.
On the other hand, some game makers and production companies are actively lobbying famous streamers to play their games. Furthermore, some game makers show gratitude and fan spirit to personal broadcasters (or small teams) who made their game famous; “Cry of Fear”, “Spooky's Jump Scare Mansion.” Therefore, game streamer fans advocate that game broadcasts help to promote the game. In the meantime, game fandoms and gamers claim that online game broadcasts harm most game makers’ rights. I also think it is unfair and not right that game streamers monopolize profits from game broadcasts.
First of all, reacting to a game simply is difficult to be regarded as "creation" enough to guarantee a license. Other "creators", personal broadcasters or teams, develop their own content such as beauty, information, music, cooking, animation, and V-logs. By contrast, most of current game broadcasts are showing a simple level of game reaction. Of course, some people use the online gaming platform to provide multiple people’s roleplay and creative attractions. However, it is a recent trend to upload only the reaction that only plays the game from the beginning to the end, or only the play video without reaction. In this way, the enjoyment of the broadcast depends more on the quality of the game itself than on the ability of the streamer.
Second, YouTube and other large online live streaming and video platforms do not guarantee the interests of game creators properly. Compared to the protected music copyright holder - making a video using music like adding subtitles to the singer's music and uploading footages using music as background music benefits the copyright holder - it is a reality that game producers cannot properly protect their interests. For example, "Undertale" is one of the few financially successful famous indie games. According to the steam-spy to provide information about the games sold on the Steam website (especially with regard to sales volume), the company of "Undertale" sold about 2.5 million pieces in 2017 standard. However, the views of the first video of the famous game streamer Markiplier (his subscribers: more than 20 million people) playing "Undertale" are much more than the sales volume of the game. Meanwhile, Korea also showed high sales volume of the video game in 10th place, but about 55,000 pieces were sold on the basis of 2017. In the case of the United States, about one third of the number of views of Americans’ most popular "Undertale" play-through video (more than 37 million) is similar to the actual sales volume (more than 12 million). In comparison, in Korea, the quantity less than 1/15 of the number of views of the most popular videos of domestic "Undertale" gameplay videos (more than 900 thousand) is similar to the sales volume (55,000). Through these analyses, we can see that it is certainly not very likely that watching videos of game streamers leads to the actual purchase of the game. Because most people think that additional consumption is unnecessary after watching the gameplay.
Third, depending on the characteristics of the game, streaming games causes infringement to the producer. Of course, some of the famous game companies are happy to allow play-through videos. However, this is closely related to the features of each game. Online multiplayer games are less vulnerable to spoilers because variables exist indefinitely. There are also games created with the aim of promotional effect of viral reaction video like “Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy” known as “a pot game” (its nickname). However, on the other hand, game fans insist that when a game where the story is important leaks out, it is not different from leaks of films and music. After watching those play videos, people will not buy the game, and the game company will not try to make a good game with similar quality to the previous one after losses and it might even disappear.
As a result, the recent game market is showing a big change. Many games are criticized today because many gaming companies make an investment only in exaggerated advertisements rather than investing in capital for creative stories and fun gaming or try to gather players with sexualized and sexist features even though the games are not adult rated. On the other hand, good games are priced from 30,000 won to over 100,000 won as the game companies tend to secure profits from players willing to buy conscientiously. In the end, when the number of good games is decreasing and only selective games that are not popular remain, the game streamers who ignore the problem will no longer have enough content. We should find ways to live together.