By Joe Sigadel / April 4th, 2017
(Disclaimer: The opinion in this article is that of the author, and not that of Operation Rainfall as a whole.)
Atlus USA is coming under fire today from content creators over their published content creation guidelines they had posted earlier for Persona 5. They really hammer home the point that they don’t want anything spoiled, whether it be on Twitch, YouTube, Twitter, or some other form of social media where leaked plot points can get out. They say “Only talk about the game in broad strokes” when it comes to story, but when it comes to combat and dungeon gameplay, you’re pretty much alright. But it doesn’t stop there. They flat out say you need to stop before you hit 7/7 on the game calendar, and list off some other restrictions which really seem draconian when you put it all together:
- You can post however many additional videos you’d like, but please limit each to be at most 90 minutes long.
- No major story spoilers, and I’ll leave that up to your good judgment. If you need some guidelines, avoid showing/spoiling the ending segments of the first three palaces. While you can show initial interactions with Yusuke, avoid his awakening scene, and that whole deal about THE painting. Also, don’t post anything about a certain student investigator.
- I know I mentioned not showing the end of each palace, but you can grab footage from the Kamoshida boss fight. However, don’t capture video from the other major boss fights.
- Must not focus solely on cutscenes/animated scenes, should prominently feature dungeon crawling/spending time in Tokyo.
- You can post straight gameplay or have commentary.
To make matters worse, Atlus has also stated that not only is Share Play disabled (which most streamers can get around anyway, thanks to capture cards), if you dare to stream past the calendar date of 7/7, they’ll come after you with a Content ID claim, strike or suspension. Twitch Support has also made a DMCA warning statement here:
📣 Persona fans, keep Atlus' content rules in mind regarding broadcast of Persona 5 to avoid potential DMCA takedown.https://t.co/TcXWg13dUj
— Twitch Support (@TwitchSupport) April 4, 2017
I have strong reason to believe this is a consequence of Japanese publishers’ reservations and failure to understand what content creators on both YouTube and Twitch can do for their titles. On one hand, the argument can be made that yes, having the story spoiled for viewers will cause them to not want to buy the game if they saw someone else go through the whole thing, saving them the trouble of purchasing. You’ll recall that not long ago, Square Enix had a ridiculous restriction on Dragon Quest Heroes when it released, warning livestreamers against playing the in-game music. But they didn’t actively threaten DMCAs like Atlus is now for Persona 5. Many streamers I know expressed anger and discontent towards Atlus for doing this, and I feel that they are justified in doing so. Allow me to explain why.
I have the unique position of being both a content creator on Twitch, as well as being part of the traditional media. I was a streamer for two years before joining Operation Rainfall, and I still stream to this very day. I have a pretty good understanding of the scene, both in small and large communities, and have met a lot of interesting people through doing both. The games I typically play are JRPGs, as they are my favorite genre. I like to talk to people about the stories being told in these games, just as a book club meeting might have a group discussion about the selected book whenever they get together. I don’t carry much influence due to my small size, but I’ve shared many of these titles from companies we write about here on the site, including (but not limited to) Koei Tecmo, Marvelous/XSEED Games, Idea Factory International, NIS America, and yes, Atlus and SEGA. I’ve been told outright that someone watching me play a game was entertaining for them, and convinced them to buy it themselves. That’s the most rewarding part of it for me. Does it always happen like that? Not as much as I’d like, but as long as these companies keep publishing games I want to play, I won’t be stopping anytime soon. The big entertainers on Twitch, those who stream to audiences of thousands on viewers daily, are the ones that might really move some units if they praise the game and they happen to be figures with a good reputation and high level of trust. I have no doubt many of my peers both large and small had plans to go on today and play Persona 5 from beginning to end, without roadblocks like these.
As media, I’m used to seeing embargo restrictions from publishers I work with, and we have no problem obliging, even if it hurts me as a streamer sometimes. But this goes too far beyond that, and it will cause many of us to decide to drop our video and streaming plans for the game altogether, which is a shame. The lesson here is that some companies have yet to learn the power of new media and how it can benefit them. Trust is more easily built with traditional media, with video and livestreaming you really have to prove yourself to PR. Thankfully some companies do get it — when I decided to stream Nights of Azure, Koei Tecmo America gave me a shout out, which I really appreciated. Marvelous Games EU has a wonderful Discord community where they directly engage with fans about games like Senran Kagura and Fate/Extella. Publishers and PR should be actively devising strategies to engage influencers of all sizes and their communities, not with pre-emptive mistrust. Hopefully in the future Atlus will reevaluate how they approach content creators with their releases.