Monday, October 26th 2020

Google Distances Itself From Alex Hutchinson's Game Streaming Royalty Comments

The recent comments from Google Stadia Montreal Creative Director Alex Hutchinson regarding game streaming revenue sharing have generated significant public backlash from consumers and developers alike. The Creative Director suggested that game streamers should have to purchase a commercial license or pay royalties to game developers in return for streaming their games. These comments were quickly associated with Google Stadia by the community which has prompted Google to issue a statement distancing themselves from Alex Hutchinson's comments. Alex Hutchinson's Twitter bio has also been updated to reflect that all opinions are his own.
GoogleThe recent tweets by Alex Hutchinson, creative director at the Montreal Studio of Stadia Games and Entertainment, do not reflect those of Stadia, YouTube or Google.
Sources: Google, Alex Hutchinson
Add your own comment

91 Comments on Google Distances Itself From Alex Hutchinson's Game Streaming Royalty Comments

#1
Caring1
He's right though.
Streamers are using content to create revenue.
If they can get away with it, then music also should be royalty free.
Posted on Reply
#2
nguyen
Caring1He's right though.
Streamers are using content to create revenue.
If they can get away with it, then music also should be royalty free.
Streamers are bringing gamers to the game, so it benefit both ways.
Charging streamers bring in very little money compare to the money generated from the surplus of players.
So yeah, charging streamer --> shooting yourself in the head.
Posted on Reply
#3
Xzibit
nguyenStreamers are bringing gamers to the game, so it benefit both ways.
Charging streamers bring in very little money compare to the money generated from the surplus of players.
So yeah, charging streamer --> shooting yourself in the head.
No, The artist or platform / sponsor can pay royalties to the publisher/content. Lots of medias do it, Why exempt this one?

Google is just taking a stand cause it be likely them paying the bill.
Posted on Reply
#4
lynx29
nguyenStreamers are bringing gamers to the game, so it benefit both ways.
Charging streamers bring in very little money compare to the money generated from the surplus of players.
So yeah, charging streamer --> shooting yourself in the head.
Gaming is a different beast than music imo. The amount of time invested really does make a difference. I listen to a few songs it takes 12 minutes, I play a game for 2-150 hours. Also, if your a music person, you would be smart to contact the popular game streamers to play your music for free - they would buy it. That is the nature of everything now, influencers. I mean I have bought headphones because of ZEOS reviews in past, he doesn't pay companies to send him headphones, they send them because they know they will sell more.
Posted on Reply
#5
nguyen
XzibitNo, The artist or platform / sponsor can pay royalties to the publisher/content. Lots of medias do it, Why exempt this one?

Google is just taking a stand cause it be likely them paying the bill.
Streamer use their own PC, buy their own game, use their own internet to broadcast, they don't own anything to the game developers. Do you pay royalty to Adobe or MS for any money you earn using their softwares ?
If any game developer establish such anti consumer act, they will literally be dead within a few months, Warcraft 3 Reforged ring any bell ?

Google realized this too so they just stay the hell away from this guy's opinion :D, though Stadia is pretty much dead already.
Posted on Reply
#6
lynx29
nguyenStreamer use their own PC, buy their own game, use their own internet to broadcast, they don't own anything to the game developers. Do you pay royalty to Adobe or MS for any money you earn using their softwares ?
If any game developer establish such anti consumer act, they will literally be dead within a few months, Warcraft 3 Reforged ring any bell ?

Google realized this too so they just stay the hell away from this guy's opinion :D, though Stadia is pretty much dead already.
Yeah the world has changed, it's a world of influencers, and if you make them pay you, there will always be a different game that will do it for free, and that game will take off instead of your AAA game (Among Us comes to mind). It's all about influence these days, Among Us now makes crazy money all because some streamers big influencers started streaming it.
Posted on Reply
#7
Vya Domus
Caring1He's right though.
Streamers are using content to create revenue.
What about the colossal amount of free advertising some of these games receive as a result of that ? Have you not noticed how the popularity of some obscure games explodes once you have a couple of famous streamers/youtubers/etc playing them ?
Posted on Reply
#8
Xzibit
nguyenStreamer use their own PC, buy their own game, use their own internet to broadcast, they don't own anything to the game developers. Do you pay royalty to Adobe or MS for any money you earn using their softwares ?
If any game developer establish such anti consumer act, they will literally be dead within a few months, Warcraft 3 Reforged ring any bell ?

Google realized this too so they just stay the hell away from this guy's opinion :D, though Stadia is pretty much dead already.
They don't own the game. Read the EULA, Read the TOS. The game is never yours and the license can be changed or terminated by license holder at anytime.

Eventually it will be treated as rebroadcasting licensing if it gets big enough.
Posted on Reply
#9
nguyen
XzibitThey don't own the game. Read the EULA, Read the TOS. The game is never yours and the license can be changed or terminated by license holder at anytime.

Eventually it will be treated as rebroadcasting licensing if it gets big enough.
Remember how Warcraft 3 Reforged changed the EULA ? it's dead now. Same fate awaiting game developer who is desperate enough to do the same.
Posted on Reply
#10
lynx29
nguyenRemember how Warcraft 3 Reforged changed the EULA ? it's dead now. Same fate awaiting game developer who is desperate enough to do the same.
As someone who played Warcraft 3 almost once every 3-4 years, it used to be really simple to download the game with no client, and copy my key over. Now you have to activate on the blizzard client and its all updated UI crap even if you don't pay for the upgrade. can't play the original anymore. really sucks. wish I had kept those original download somewhere. :( i still have my original keys, just need the original downloads. really hate blizz for doing that.
Posted on Reply
#11
lexluthermiester
Caring1He's right though.
Streamers are using content to create revenue.
If they can get away with it, then music also should be royalty free.
No he isn't, he's a moron. Streamers DO pay devs/pubs when they buy the game they stream, which then becomes free advertising of the game itself, advertising that comes at no cost to the devs/pubs and brings them additional sales. I myself have made game purchases based on watching streamers play them, purchases I would have otherwise never made.

Mr. Hutchinson expressed a VERY, pathetically, narrowminded point of view that has absolutely no merit in the real world. He and people like him need to pull their head out of their bum and see the bigger picture. Things are perfectly fine exactly the way they are.
lynx29can't play the original anymore. really sucks.
It really does.
lynx29wish I had kept those original download somewhere.
This is why backups are so important.
lynx29i still have my original keys, just need the original downloads.
I'm sure if you went looking you could find them. The keys you paid for are what make the use of the game legit, not the installer.
UskompufAlex Hutchinson's Twitter bio has also been updated to reflect that all opinions are his own.
Yes, opinions he should keep to himself.
Posted on Reply
#12
Chaitanya
Caring1He's right though.
Streamers are using content to create revenue.
If they can get away with it, then music also should be royalty free.
Going on a tangent but there are lot of musicians who support piracy of their music as they dont get any revenue from sale of said music and its record labels who get rich from. I remember Joss Stone saying she doesnt care about piracy as long as fans attend concerts.
www.goliath.com/music/10-musicians-who-are-pro-music-piracy/
Posted on Reply
#13
ebivan
They use the content to generate revenue. Just like radio stations do. Just Like tv stations do. Just lake streaming services do. Just like arcades do. But those don't pay the same price as a consumer would pay for the same media, they pay much, much more for commercial licenses of the same content. Streamer pay nothing, the don't even buy consumer licenses.

Anyways, I've never seen a single gaming stream in my life so I don't really care. I am too old for that I guess, I read about these things like game streamers on Twich and other people earning their income via their YouTube channels. But I really have no time nor intrest in that kind of stuff. I don't watch tv either.
Posted on Reply
#14
lexluthermiester
ebivanThey use the content to generate revenue. Just like radio stations do. Just Like tv stations do. Just lake streaming services do. Just like arcades do. But those don't pay the same price as a consumer would pay for the same media, they pay much, much more for commercial licenses of the same content.
Maybe, but the streams provide free advertising of the games being played for the devs/pubs, which they do not pay for. So if devs/pubs want to be paid more for the titles being streamed, then the devs/pubs can pay for the advertising they are provided. I think the streamers would come out on top in that deal...
ebivanStreamer pay nothing, the don't even buy consumer licenses.
Total BS myth. Streamers still buy the games they play/stream. However...
ebivanAnyways, I've never seen a single gaming stream in my life so I don't really care.
...if you've never watched any, how would you know anything about it? And if you don't care why make such a comment? Seriously...
Posted on Reply
#15
ebivan
Playing music on the radio provides free advertising, but radio station still have to pay royalties. Same for TV, arcades, etc....

As I said, I read about this stuff. I do find it interesting from a meta point of view. I don't care about streamers, neither about who they are and what they do. But I really find it interesting how media is changing and what the impacts of these changes on society are.
Posted on Reply
#16
DrCR
Given different variables, I would have expected that tweeter to be facing job termination. Creative Director =/= competence in IP law. "do not reflect those of Stadia, YouTube or Google" -- I would so love to see her take that an run with it since her employer explicitly stated her posts do not reflect up on the company.

When we watch someone use software, we're not using something, we're watching someone use something they own. Does a drummer have to play the amp manufacture when they stream a drum solo? And a channel like The Lockpicking Lawer is not too dissimilar from a gameplay video. Imagine Alex's arguement with the 'gameplay' being a software tutorial.

One way I can see the IP holder having a potentially binding argument is if they put it in the terms and conditions of their license. But they would have too be careful in how tight they squeeze, as it could be like a non-compete agreement i.e. hard to win in court. And there's big money on the opposing side in this situation, not just some terminated invividual. Hum, in thinking further, setting aside copyright, perhaps they may have an argument on the trademark side. That could be interesting. I'd get the popcorn out for that sort of civil suit.

When it comes down to it, ultimately we are at the mercy of Google, Facebook, Twitch, et al. in that whatever they decide to do will stomp on the content creators e.g. like Youtube approach to China Uncensored.
Posted on Reply
#17
Valantar
lynx29Gaming is a different beast than music imo. The amount of time invested really does make a difference. I listen to a few songs it takes 12 minutes, I play a game for 2-150 hours. Also, if your a music person, you would be smart to contact the popular game streamers to play your music for free - they would buy it. That is the nature of everything now, influencers. I mean I have bought headphones because of ZEOS reviews in past, he doesn't pay companies to send him headphones, they send them because they know they will sell more.
But that goes both ways. If a song plays on the radio for ~3 minutes, you listen to it for free for the same time, and the station pays a royalty to the rightsholder for the right to distribute the music. This might lead you to buy the music or go to a concert, but more than likely not - hence why royalties like these matter. If a streamer plays a game for 100+ hours, you still get to watch that game being played for that amount of time if you want to. Whether or not you buy the game and how much time you spend playing it has little if any bearing on the relation between the streamer and the rightsholder. The argument that "but it's free advertising" is the same argument that says that artists don't deserve to get paid when other people profit from their work - like when T-shirt stores steal artworks and print them for sale, or when advertising companies (so many times!) steal people's work off the internet and re-use it in ad campaigns. One thing is if this is voluntary on the part of the creator, but your argument makes no distinction between the creator initiating this themselves or the streamer doing so, so it essentially saying that creators need to accept that people make for-profit use of their products whether they like it or not. That is a deeply problematic argument.

The only real difference I see from traditionally licenced media - which admittedly is a major one - is that unlike a piece of music, literature, film, TV, etc., each playthrough of a game is a specific realization of the (near infinite) possible playings of that game. Or put more simply, the game we see played on a stream isn't the product of the developer alone, but rather a collaborative effort between (among others) the developer and the streamer, and removing either from the relation would make the thing in question (a game stream) impossible. Traditional media are open for interpretation, can be presented and realized in many ways, and are of course affected by the medium through which they are experienced, but they still have a somewhat fixed form, while claiming the same for a game is much more difficult. This could at least be an argument for lower royalties compared to more fixed media like music where the effort is more centered around the creator.

(Of course music royalties are massively skewed towards record labels, and artists get far less than they should, but that's another debate entirely.)

IMO, game developers should form a rightsholder organization similar to what record labels have and start demanding royalties from streaming platforms. But these need to be reasonable, and they need to differentiate between ... let's call it commercial and hobbyist streaming (as well as similar distinctions for other fair use exemptions such as analysis or criticism). Hobbyists making little to no money off their work should obviously not need to pay royalties for streaming games, nor should reviewers, critics, people doing content analysis, or anyone else whose use of the game falls outside of what could be termed "professional streaming". And this would obviously need to not be policed by bots, as we all know what a recipe for disaster that kind of system is.
Posted on Reply
#18
Dredi
Caring1He's right though.
Streamers are using content to create revenue.
If they can get away with it, then music also should be royalty free.
Let’s plays and sreaming gameplay with commentary are transformative content and thus no royalties are to be payed.
Posted on Reply
#19
lexluthermiester
ebivanPlaying music on the radio provides free advertising, but radio station still have to pay royalties. Same for TV, arcades, etc....

As I said, I read about this stuff. I do find it interesting from a meta point of view. I don't care about streamers, neither about who they are and what they do. But I really find it interesting how media is changing and what the impacts of these changes on society are.
Perhaps, but that business model was created in a time when consumer content consumption was TV and Radio exclusively. Prerecorded media was barely a thing and that business model didn't fall away even when vinyl, tape and laser based media became sustainable and popular. This is now the age of the internet. Like it or lump it, things have changed and the old way of thinking is gone and the old business model is dead. Mr Hutchinson is clearly a subscriber to that once valid but now antiquated school of thought. He, and people like him, need to put a cork in it and be grateful that people play and stream games providing the makers of such a great deal of free advertising.
Posted on Reply
#20
R0H1T
lynx29I listen to a few songs it takes 12 minutes
I take it you've never listened to the same song more than twice? I've played a few of Sia's songs probably thousands of times combined. Though admittedly I play less games than your avg TPU user, but even then the argument doesn't seem sound to me.

The flip side to this argument though is that companies should pay us (consumers) for mining our data & selling it like a commodity!
Posted on Reply
#21
Valantar
lexluthermiesterPerhaps, but that business model was created in a time when consumer content consumption was TV and Radio exclusively. Prerecorded media was barely a thing and that business model didn't fall away even when vinyl, tape and laser based media became sustainable and popular. This is now the age of the internet. Like it or lump it, things have changed and the old way of thinking is gone and the old business model is dead. Mr Hutchinson is clearly a subscriber to that once valid but now antiquated school of thought. He, and people like him, need to put a cork in it and be grateful that people play and stream games providing the makers of such a great deal of free advertising.
I think you're right that that system is out of date and is a poor fit for today's media, but your stance is essentially saying "f**k it, let them do whatever they like", which is a cop-out at best. Creative work deserves recognition and payment, and "free advertising" doesn't put food on your table or pay your rent. "Free advertising" is a convenient excuse people have made up to ease their conscience over unscrupulously profiting off the work of others. There are so many examples of creators - from musicians to game developers - who end up not making money because people get access to their products in some form for free. There have been quite a few indie developers who have spoken up about their games having more cumulative view time on streams on Twitch and YouTube than playtime on any platform, and that (especially for shorter and more story-driven games) streaming effectively replaces playing, leading to lower sales as the vast majority of people who have seen the game streamed then don't see a reason to buy it and play it for themselves.
Posted on Reply
#22
lexluthermiester
Valantarbut your stance is essentially saying "f**k it, let them do whatever they like", which is a cop-out at best.
Not at all. The devs/pubs are not the ones playing the games, they are not buying the equipment to do such nor buying the equipment to stream such.
Valantar"Free advertising" is a convenient excuse people have made up to ease their conscience over unscrupulously profiting off the work of others.
Streamers buy the games they play. Morally, ethically AND legally, their obligation to the devs/pubs ends with that purchase.

Devs/pubs don't get to have their cake and eat it too. If they want royalties, then they also have the obligation to pay for the advertising they get, on a per user/viewer basis, that results from streaming sessions. But as @Dredi stated above, streaming is a transformative activity and falls under the umbrella of fair use. Claims of royalties are therefore not applicable.
Posted on Reply
#23
R0H1T
Fair use, as LTT says, is not so much as cut & dry. Now if you're going to argue this outside the US, well good luck trying to argue "Fair Use" ~

Posted on Reply
#24
Valantar
lexluthermiesterNot at all. The devs/pubs are not the ones playing the games, they are not buying the equipment to do such nor buying the equipment to stream such.

Streamers buy the games they play. Morally, ethically AND legally, their obligation to the devs/pubs ends with that purchase.

Devs/pubs don't get to have their cake and eat it too. If they want royalties, them they also have the obligation to pay for the advertising they get, on a per user/viewer basis, that results from streaming sessions. But as @Dredi stated above, streaming is a transformative activity and falls under the umbrella of fair use. Claims of royalties are therefore not applicable.
It's a bit more complicated than that - all gameplay is transformative, as there is no way of experiencing a game without playing it. Before play, a game only exists as a potential (much like a piece of sheet music theoretically is music, but needs to be realized by the musician to be actually perceptible as such). But is it transformative in the same manner as, say, a video essay about the contents of a game, or a review? I would argue no. It is transformative, but to a much lesser degree, and with an entirely different intent.

As for whether their obligation ends at the point of purchase: again, that depends on the nature of the purchase. Any game purchase - just like the purchase of any media product - gives you a licence to use it for private, non-profit uses. The same goes if you buy a CD, LP or FLAC file (or movie, TV show, etc.). If you want to play it in public (including on a stream), you need to pay a different license fee for public presentations, which are not covered by the standard private license.

That license is what fair use grants exemptions from for critical, educational, analytical and artistic uses. One could argue that the streamer is a performer that simply uses the game as a prop in their performance, and that is true to some extent, but it is the central prop without which the activity in question would be impossible (you can't stream a game without a game to stream), and that nonetheless doesn't grant exemption from the need to license the work for public presentation. If you use a piece of music in your theatre production, you still need to license it for public presentation, even if the context dramatically alters the perception of the music, if you remix it, if you only play parts of it, etc.

As I said: there are many good arguments for reforming our current licensing system for media, but scrapping it outright and making everything a free-for-all under the umbrella of "but it's free advertising!" is a cop-out that is ultimatiely nothing more than a raised middle finger towards artists everywhere.
Posted on Reply
#25
lexluthermiester
R0H1TFair use, as LTT says, is not so much as cut & dry.
Yes it is. There is literally a mountain of legal code and case law that supports "fair-use". The boys at LTT are not legal experts.
Posted on Reply
Add your own comment
Copyright © 2004-2021 www.techpowerup.com. All rights reserved.
All trademarks used are properties of their respective owners.