Will the PlayStation 4 legitimize Let’s Play youtube videos (Walkthroughs, WatchMePlay, clips, etc.) due to the system’s built-in “Sharing” feature and mainstream focus on recording video of your gameplay footage?
I think it will. There was a time where Let’s Play’s on youtube straddled the line between what was legal and what was illegal (or at least, frowned upon) to do. Even today, publisher’s can request that Let’s Plays be taken offline by google (who owns youtube) and it’s hard to argue against the game companies and publishers when their position points to the fact that showing others the entire game violates their copyright.
That’s a perfectly understandable position. However, as youtube has grown and videos of videogames and videos of people playing videogames have increased and reached near mainstream status, at the very least normalcy, it has become more and more accepted and less likely that game companies will request that your Let’s Play’s be taken offline. As long as they are not released during the early embargo period issued for said game or show say, that game’s ending.
I believe the fact that the PS4 is focusing so heavily on integrating user-made recorded videos and Let’s Plays of videogames directly into the system, and making it very easy for even a casual gamer to upload their gameplay footage and create videos with it and share them online; Will completely mainstream and legitimize Let’s Plays and user-created video walkthroughs of videogames.
Sony will literally be elevating Let’s Plays to it’s proper place as a true way to increase the awareness of their games which in turn increases the marketing and promotion and encourages others to pick the game up (increasing the community and hype for said games). Let’s Plays already serve that purpose for many gamers who cannot (yet) afford game but will live vicariously through others who have played the game as they anxiously await and count down the days until they too can dive into it themselves.
I think this is an extremely smart play by Sony and could be a real game changer in the videogame scene. Because Sony has publicly and majorly endorsed Let’s Plays as part of videogame culture, it will become much harder for videogame companies and copyright holders to argue that these Let’s Plays, video walkthroughs, clips of gaming moments and other user-created videos using their videogame products, is somehow a violation of their rights or copyright to the game. Especially if sales of PS4 games remain high. At that point, it will be nearly impossible to argue that Let’s Plays hurt sales.
In fact, and I believe that argument has already been won, it will be ridiculous to argue that people won’t still buy videogames just because they can view a video that someone else made of the entire game online.
As gamers themselves can already attest to, watching a friend, roommate, sibling, family member or stranger play through a videogame, is NOT the same as playing through the game yourself. Games take a certain amount of user-control, and every gamer will play the game slighly differently. The experience of watching someone play and playing yourself, is akin to the difference between the interactive nature of videogames compared to movies. Passive entertainment versus interactive entertainment.
I applaud Sony and I am glad that they are taking this step to legitimze and popularize Let’s Plays.
I only hope that Microsoft, Nintendo and other videogame companies (like Valve or Good Old Games/Gog.com) follow suit. And I have faith that they, eventually and soon, will.