Practically every social media platform is struggling with content policing. Facebook’s recent crusade on ‘false news’ is a good example, as is Twitter’s perennial struggle with harassment. YouTube is no different, and it’s just launched a new initiative against “inappropriate” content that’s having a dramatic impact on content creators, especially in gaming.
How to get demonetised in YouTube's new regime? Make a video about one of the best sex games on PC.
With YouTube's new policies targeting violent content and "subjects related to war", the once-thriving Call of Duty community are reporting that hundreds of their videos are making little or no money. ThunderS7ruck says "my views were up 53% last month but my revenue was down 49%." Elsewhere, PrestigeIsKey made a video sharing his experience:
“My WWII zombie-related videos have been taken down,” he says. “I’ve had videos demonetized because of ‘depictions of war,’ even though it’s Advanced Warfare and I’m talking about WWII, or I’m showing gameplay of COD: WWII. It’s like, are games really lookin’ that good nowadays?”
For more on this, check out Kotaku's report, which features further commentary by YouTubers.
YouTube’s new policies follow the Wall Street Journal’s investigation into the platform's most-subscribed creator, PewDiePie. Their review of his content highlighted a number of controversial stunts, which caused Disney and Google (who own YouTube) to sever commercial relationships with him. It also inspired dozens of major brands to pull their ads from the platform, for fear of appearing to endorse controversial content.
In March, YouTube responded by giving advertisers more control over the videos on which their ads appear. One of the ways this is done is by categorising content and allowing advertisers to pull ads according to those categories, which include “subjects related to war” as mentioned above, but also “vulgar language”, “disasters and tragedies”, and “sexually suggestive content”.
Videos captured by these categories stand to make much less money, or to be demonetised altogether, and both YouTube and Twitter are abuzz with anecdotal evidence suggesting that content creators are hurting.
Ethan Klein of H3H3 productions says he’s had hundreds of videos demonetised without warning “and no option to appeal”:
YouTube has demonetized everything from "Vape Nation" to "Thank You for 3 million" with no notification and no option to appeal @TeamYouTube— Ethan Klein (@h3h3productions) March 29, 2017
For Klein, the problems have got bad enough that he feels forced to diversify into other platforms, such as Twitch.
If you follow any gaming YouTubers at all, there's a fair chance you already have an idea of how serious the problem is; speaking from personal experience, most of the channels I follow have made a video on the subject, with pretty bleak prognoses. Perhaps some are overstating the problem to make a 'drama' video, but if YouTube doesn't change course, we could be looking at a major shift in the ecosystem for games content.