[OPINION] Persona 5’s Video Restrictions Puts a Ball and Chain on Content Creators

Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

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Persona 5 | Ball and Chain

(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:

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.

About Joe Sigadel

Joe is the reporting manager for oprainfall, he is also a broadcaster on Twitch and loves showing off many of the games we report about on his channel. He has also been known to defended Senran Kagura from those who only want to accept it at face value.

  • Mr0303

    I don’t know what Atlus is thinking with this one. These draconian restrictions can only hurt the game in the long run. I don’t think spoilers are much of an issue here – it’s going to be a 60+ hours long JRPG, so seeing a scene out of context won’t be much of a spoiler. Going as far as to restrict screenshots is lunacy.

    Streaming games is essentially free marketing and people who don’t want to be spoiled won’t watch playthroughs.

    • Landale

      The screenshot restriction pisses me off the most. Every time a trophy is gained it comes with a notification that screenshots are disabled, since it always tries to take one automatically when that happens.

      Thank you for reminding me over and over and over and over that I can’t use the Share button game. I’m not trying to use it but thanks, really needed those constant reminders.

    • KagatoAsuka

      What pisses me off the most is threatening with banning your channel if you upload footage past a certain point in game.

    • Panpopo

      I understand what you are saying, but this is their biggest release. They just don’t want people to watch the entire game, or most of it. Why buy an RPG (keyword RPG) when you can watch someone else do it for free?

    • Mr0303

      Well if you watch someone else play a game, especially and RPG, the role play part of it is completely out of your control. I can see the reasoning if it was a single playthrough visual novel, but not with this.

  • azariosays

    I see your take, but coming from someone who just plays games, I think it’s up to the publisher to decide whether they want their product shared like this. I’m sure by now they understand the risks and rewards and still came to this conslusion. It doesn’t hurt them at all tbh, they relieved they don’t need streamers for this game to sell. Ultimately, it only hurts streamers. So now everyone can sit back and enjoy the game alone with everyone else lol. Again, I see your points, but it just doesn’t convince me Atlus or Sega is in the wrong.

    • Mr0303

      “It doesn’t hurt them at all tbh” – that’s not quite true. Popular streamers can boost the sales of a niche game. As far as I know there are no negative effects of that. Even if we ignore the sales aspect the bad PR from the articles discussing this is a black spot on them.

      “it just doesn’t convince me Atlus or Sega is in the wrong.” – they are. At the very least they are restricting features available is every other game on the system. They could’ve just blocked some key story segments, or even all the dialogue, but why do so with the gameplay parts? What’s the reason to limit the ability to take screenshots? Going after channels that may stream the game is a show of authoritarian mindset.

    • Steve Baltimore

      I dunno, I’ve seen a bunch of ppl say they are gonna watch a let’s play rather than buy the game.

      Though I do see you point to a point, with a release this big I think the impact of streamers on sales either way would be very little. Though on a smaller title I would have to say it would be a gamble on if it would hurt or help the game out in the end.

    • Mr0303

      I think that the people who said that weren’t too interested in the game in the first place. I doubt the ban would convince them to spend money on it.

      I think that if you are confident in your game, you should allow it to be streamed. The more people play it, the more exposure it’s going to get. How much it affects sales is a whole different matter, but more publicity is always good in my eyes.

    • Steve Baltimore

      Your probably right, and in most cases I would tend to agree with you. Unless it’s a visual novel or something completely story driven.

    • azariosays

      Let’s remember that Atlus left unlocalized text in the last SMT and people were mad for a day and the game still sold decently. That is something way worse than blocking streaming, but people moved on.

    • Mr0303

      So are you saying that this is a bad practice, but the game will still sell well despite that? If so, then I tend to agree.

    • Steve Baltimore

      I see both sides of this one. I could totally see why a publisher wouldn’t want a story driven game spoiled, it could really hinder sales.

      On the other hand, streamers that do this for a living want to be able stream and share the hottest and latest games. This also falls into that territory I bought this game I should be able to do whatever I want with it.

      I don’t see any easy fix here, but I think both sides on this one need come together and find some middle ground.

  • Atlus is as bad as Nintendo.

    • bomblord

      This is actually considerably worse than what Nintendo’s been doing. They have a partnership program and will allow videos with their content to stay up (they just slap ads on them).

      Atlus is attempting to block all streaming after a certain point in the game and threatening video and channel takedowns.

  • ProfessorFluffy

    Just a thought, but Atlus is owned by Sega, and Sega Japan are known for this kind of stuff. Even though Atlus has been kind of independent, I imagine something like this could be a direct order by Sega.

    On the other hand they did have the region locking on the Persona 4 Arena for PS3 to get as much profit as possible from their markets, so could just be their own decision. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

    • Miqubi

      Sega didn’t restrict Yakuza 0, they scoured the internet of anything shining force when they thought they had to protect their latest game, but their approach with yakuza 0 has been different, so I wouldn’t pin it on Sega this time.

    • Narmy

      Sharing is blocked in the Japanese version of Yakuza 0.

    • Miqubi

      Then I take that back, puzzling they didn’t block it in the west though.

  • Landale

    Kamoshida fight isn’t off limits. Atlus clearly forgot about a line in the Kamoshida fight.

  • I was planning to buy this game (import the Japanese version, anyway), but Atlus deciding to treat the customer like shit (or a child) made me change my mind.