Last week, YouTube unveiled a set of new guidelines for creators who wanted to monetize their videos and some of those changes affect channels dedicated to gaming.
Those who use their YouTube channels for livestreaming purposes won’t face any monetization issues, a YouTube representative told Polygon, but those who create violent montages might. For example, if a user has put together a list of their best kills in a game like Call of Duty or Battlefield, YouTube reserves the right to not assign advertising to that specific video.
“There is understandable concern from creators about what they can and can’t do,” a representative told Polygon. “The biggest complaint from creators is that these five guidelines don’t give [them] enough context for producing videos. The new guidelines were designed to help with that.”
This isn’t anything new, but YouTube is trying to make it clearer to creators who do want to use their primary channel as a way of generating revenue. According to the company’s advertising policy, “Violence in the normal course of video gameplay is generally acceptable for advertising, but montages where gratuitous violence is the focal point is not.”
Monetization of gaming videos on YouTube has been an issue for quite some time. In 2015, popular YouTuber Hank Green penned a Medium post going over the conundrum that YouTube has found itself in. While the company wants to promote gaming videos and channels on its website, the issue at the time, was finding enough advertisers the company could spread out across top channels.
“Gaming content is exactly what YouTube wants (the videos are long, the audiences are engaged, and thus people stay on the site.) So YouTube does their best to build the gaming community, but monetizing it is a different story,” Green wrote. “There is so much popular gaming content on YouTube that for much of the year, the inventory far outstrips advertiser demands.”
In recent months, the issues facing creators on YouTube has changed slightly. Following the threat of a mass exodus from top advertisers due to hateful, offensive and violent content, YouTube has shifted how monetization works. In the most recent community guidelines update, the company specified what constitutes ineligible content for advertising content:
Hateful content: Content that promotes discrimination or disparages or humiliates an individual or group of people on the basis of the individual’s or group’s race, ethnicity, or ethnic origin, nationality, religion, disability, age, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or other characteristic associated with systematic discrimination or marginalization.
Inappropriate use of family entertainment characters: Content that depicts family entertainment characters engaged in violent, sexual, vile, or otherwise inappropriate behavior, even if done for comedic or satirical purposes.
Incendiary and demeaning content: Content that is gratuitously incendiary, inflammatory, or demeaning. For example, video content that uses gratuitously disrespectful language that shames or insults an individual or group.
YouTube is trying to make their ad-sponsored content more family friendly and welcoming to all viewers and, because of that, gaming has been left in the crosshairs of what constitutes being eligible for monetization and what doesn’t. YouTube’s rep told Polygon that they’re not trying to stifle creativity and they’re hoping that with the new guidelines, it will be easier for gaming channels to figure out what they need to do in order to remain monetized.
Due to the way some of the advertising works on YouTube, according to Green, game-dedicated channels have the potential to earn quite a bit of revenue. When YouTube launched YouTube Red, its subscription service, the company decided to distribute advertising based on minutes watched, not total views. If someone is uploading a lengthy let’s play video or livestreaming a popular game for a couple of hours, this could ultimately result in their favor.
YouTube has no intentions of demonetizing streams or let’s plays, and the company’s rep made that adamantly clear to Polygon. The only type of video that could potentially suffer are montages of gratuitous violence and death.
More information on advertising policies is expected to be released in the coming months.