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Phil Fish says YouTubers are essentially pirates

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Fez designer Phil Fish is no stranger to controversy. Last year, after a visit from the Drama Llama, he exploded after somebody on the internet called him a whiny moaner, and he proved just how whiny he was by cancelling the development of Fez 2. Now he’s making waves again, by saying that YouTubers owe him money.

Say what you will about the YouTube phenomenon, but they’re the new prima form of entertainment. Young people would rather watch a bunch of idiots talk rubbish on YouTube than watch TV, and in many ways they’re replacing traditional media – even games media as the go-to sources of information. 

Many developers and publishers have embraced this, realising that these YouTubers account for increased sales. When a large YouTube personality, such as PewDiePie play a game, people pay attention, and then actually go out and buy that game. PewDiePie makes $4m from his videos per year, without any sponsorship being taken in account, so a lot of people are watching his rambling. And Phil Fish thinks that PewDiePie owes him money.

In a series of now-deleted tweets captured by Gamespot, Fish likened YouTubers to pirates.

"YouTubers should have to pay out a huge portion of their revenue to the developers from which they steal all their content. [Ad] revenue should be shared with developers. This should be built into YouTube. Anything else is basically piracy."

He went on to say:

"If you generate money from putting my content on your channel, you owe me money. Simple as that. If you buy a movie, are you then allowed to stream the entirety of it publicly for people to watch for free? No, because that’s illegal.

"Systems are in place to prevent that. But buy Fez, put ALL of it on YouTube, turn on ads, make money from it and that’s TOTALLY FINE. And the developer should in NO WAY be compensated for their work being freely distributed to the world. Right. Makes sense."

The difference between games and movies, obviously, is that there’s no player agency in film; it’s entirely passive. With games, people get to experience the joys of playing things themselves afterwards. The other thing that I think Fish fails to realise is that that people aren’t watching people like PewDiePie for the games that he plays; they’re watching for his reaction to those games.

Last Updated: June 19, 2014

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