In a fairly surprising take, Alex Hutchinson, the creative director at Google Stadia, has stated that streamers should be paying video game publishers for the games that they stream. The statement seems to have been prompted by the recent DMCA takedown notices that streamers received regarding music used during streams. While streamers are clearly looking to avoid any further claims of copyright infringement, it seems like a safe bet that streamers won't have to worry about this from game publishers anytime soon. Hutchinson does not see it that way, however, arguing that publishers could choose to start enforcing copyrights, as well. The tweets from Hutchinson can be found below.
The real truth is the streamers should be paying the developers and publishers of the games they stream. They should be buying a license like any real business and paying for the content they use.— Alex Hutchinson (@BangBangClick) October 22, 2020
Hutchinson is correct that many streamers are profiting off of the games that are being streamed, but the benefits are far from one-sided. It's unlikely that a stream will convince viewers to buy a certain music track upon hearing it, but streaming has had a massive impact on video game sales. Take, for example, Among Us. The game had struggled since its release in 2018, but exploded in popularity after Twitch streamers discovered the game earlier this year. Among Us is not an outlier; several games have found much larger audiences thanks to streamers, and will continue to do so.
It's clear that most publishers understand that benefit. Several publishers have embraced streaming in a big way, even going so far as to incorporate popular figures like Dr Disrespect into their games as playable characters. The idea that streamers should be paying publishers for, essentially, advertising their games for free, completely ignores the realities of streaming, and how much publishers currently benefit from this type of publicity. If publishers started charging streamers to play those games, only the biggest would be able to afford to do so, making it impossible for smaller names to establish themselves. It would also cause streamers to move towards publishers that weren't "enforcing copyrights," hugely benefiting smaller publishers.
The reality is that the DMCA takedowns that have been happening to streamers are a big problem. Twitch has not informed streamers what content violated copyright, and some of the removed content could have been years in the past. Artists like T-Pain have made music available for streamers to use copyright free, which could help moving forward, but that doesn't resolve the issues with older content. Fortunately, it seems like a safe bet that streamers won't have to worry about similar issues with the games themselves anytime soon.
Do you think streamers should pay to stream certain games? Are publishers the ones that truly benefit? Let us know in the comments or share your thoughts directly on Twitter at @Marcdachamp to talk all things gaming!