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When should you pay YouTubers to play your game, and when should they pay you?

When should you pay YouTubers to play your game, and when should they pay you?

July 3, 2014 | By Alex Wawro

"Getting airtime with Twitch streamers and YouTubers is VITAL. And I’m going to ask THEM for money?"
- Developer Ian Stocker questions the notion that people creating video content around games will ever pay publishers or developers for the privilege.

Escape Goat 2 developer Ian Stocker published an excellent editorial on N4G today about the value of visibility in the increasingly crowded game market. The piece seeks to explore when it might be appropriate for developers to expect payment from video content creators and vice versa, as more developers consider paying prominent broadcasters to play their games.

Should you get paid when someone produces videos that prominently feature your game, or is it the other way around? Nintendo seems to think it at least deserves a cut of the ad revenue generated by such videos, given its recent announcement of a planned affiliate program for YouTubers; Squad is doing the opposite by allowing Kerbal Space Program streamers and YouTubers to earn money by placing a referral link to buy the game in any video content they create.

Meanwhile, some developers are paying companies like Polaris Media to produce videos about their games featuring prominent YouTube personalities in an effort to juice sales.

"New artists looking to book gigs eventually have to answer a tough question: should I pay to perform?" wrote Stocker. "I’m the one providing the show for the venue. They even get to sell drinks thanks to me. Am I going to be part of this race to the bottom?"

Comparisons to the music industry feature heavily in Stocker's analysis, which touches on some common concerns about how YouTubers should ethically disclose information about their financial arrangements.

For example, Stocker's piece cites statements made by prominent YouTuber EpicNameBro about his decision to turn down offers to pay him in exchange for promoting specific games in his videos, something he claims to have done with some reluctance.

"I wonder what I would really do if I found myself on the other side of ENB's offer," wrote Stocker. "I mean, when GameGrumps showcased Escape Goat 2 on Steam Train, sales doubled for five straight days. Tell me you wouldn’t consider the deal, if you were in my shoes!"

Stocker delves into much greater detail on the topic from a developer's perspective in his editorial, which is worth reading in full over on the N4G blog.

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