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After a three day event to show off new games for Stadia, along with three special demos now live you would think Google was having a good time. Unfortunately, one developer derailed it all.

For a quick recap of the Stadia event you can see day 1 here with a PAC-MAN Mega Tunnel Battle demo, day 2 here with the HUMANKIND demo and as for day 3: you can now play a free demo of the upcoming Immortals Fenyx Rising free, a new exclusive 'First on Stadia' title Young Souls was announced and the strategy game Phoenix Point is coming to Stadia in 2021. Additionally, Stadia's invite system is expanding so that if you do invite a friend to Stadia, that friend will get two months of Stadia Pro free and if continued after the free months you then get a month free too. See the Stadia community post for all the info on that.

So that all sounds pretty reasonable, some nice games coming to Google's Linux-powered streaming service Stadia. Where did it go wrong then? Well, Google are currently enjoying a serious round of bad press and Stadia ended up trending all across Twitter, and not for positive reasons.

The problem was Alex Hutchinson, who according to their Twitter bio was the "Creative Director for Google Stadia" that tweeted out these thoughts:

Streamers worried about getting their content pulled because they used music they didn't pay for should be more worried by the fact that they're streaming games they didn't pay for as well. It's all gone as soon as publishers decide to enforce it.

As a bit of context here, Twitch has caused a lot of issues lately due to DMCA take-downs due to copyrighted music. You can see an overview on The Verge.

Hutchinson followed that tweet with:

The real truth is the streamers should be paying the developers and publishers of the games they stream. They should be buying a license like any real business and paying for the content they use. 

Hutchinson doubled down on these thoughts in another follow up tweet:

Amazing to me that people are upset at someone saying that the creators of content should be allowed to make some of the money from other people using their content for profit.

Not exactly a good look, coming from a person who works for a currently not exactly popular service streaming games. Even worse to post these up with a Twitter bio written like it was, doing more damage than intended to Stadia. However, Hutchinson is not the Creative Director of Stadia as their profile originally said. They actually worked for Typhoon Studios, which Google acquired and then became part of Stadia Games and Entertainment. So Hutchinson works for a smaller game studio that Google happens to now own to make games for Stadia. Hutchinson has since changed their Twitter bio to reflect that more clearly.

The problem though, is that Hutchinson's comments have been widely ridiculed and it caused Stadia to enjoy thousands of angry gamers, developers and publishers all calling out the comments. The original Twitter post has been quote-tweeted (where people quote it and make a direct comment above it) over four thousand times.

It's an easy argument to deconstruct for how ridiculous it is too. Showing off a game is nothing like playing music, or a movie. It's not static content, it's transformed by the person playing it and it's free advertising for the developer and publisher. You need only look at some of the most popular PC games around to see how livestreaming has caused massive surges in people buying those games like Among Us (source):

Care to guess when livestreamers picked it up? As another very quick example, here's what happened to Freehold Games with their roguelike Caves of Qud when a single video was done on it, to be clear this is their "whole sales history" (source):

There's plenty of other examples of this but you get the idea. There's a reason why so many developers have blanket statements up approving the use of their games in videos. Most understand it's important, and plenty directly pay streamers to take a look at their game. When talking about huge games from big publishers, most developers involved likely never see a penny from the games doing well anyway - only the people at the top do, which makes it even more ridiculous to want to see more money from people showing it off.

What Hutchinson said doesn't even match up with how Google are working with Stadia either. Google are building in streaming features to Stadia, gave out early access to livestreamers to show off Stadia and more. Google aren't dumb and they've distanced themselves very clearly from Hutchinson in a statement to 9to5Google:

The recent tweets by Alex Hutchinson, creative director at the Montreal Studio of Stadia Games and Entertainment, do not reflect those of Stadia, YouTube or Google.

As someone who personally purchased the Stadia Founders Edition, I have been watching in horror.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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50 comments
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gabber 23 Oct
If watching a game makes me not want to buy the game it's
a.) a bad game
b.) not a game (since the fun in a game is playing it myself)

Quoting: thoughtfulhippoWait, what? That Phoenix Point that dropped Linux because it "requires a large amount of specialised graphics programming" is now coming to Stadia? I'm guessing they still won't release for Linux. This makes me even more salty!

I know it's almost like Stadia is not good for Linux on the desktop.
Dunc 23 Oct
Streaming is advertising.

Now, I'm not suggesting that publishers should be paying streamers either, since the latter also benefits from the audience “draw” of a big title, but the idea that it should be vice-versa is absurd. (As, in my opinion, are music royalties, but that ship sailed decades ago.)
Liam Dawe 23 Oct
Quoting: gabberI know it's almost like Stadia is not good for Linux on the desktop.
I'm not entirely sure what you're trying to get at here. If you mean Stadia is bad for Linux on the desktop, it's the wrong way to look at it. Stadia doesn't mean anything really for any current system, since it works across pretty much any existing system. So it's not "good" for Linux on the desktop in the same way it's not "good" for Windows, macOS, Android, Chromecast or anything else.
Kyrottimus 23 Oct
It's almost like the real corporate mindset at Google (disregard people, acquire more currency) is starting to bleed at the seams.

If they were smart, they would roll all that "licensing" verbage in with the Stadia account ToS, and maybe just, you know, increase the monthly subscription price by a nominal amount (perhaps a stratified increase over time) to cover it and then just keep their freaking mouth shut about it instead of publicly stepping on their own dick with turf cleats like this.

Perhaps I'm a little salty from my week, but Google's practices have annoyed me for quite some time now, so this "fopah" with Stadia's Director of Chumming the Waters (or whatever) does not surprise me.

And as far as this?:
QuoteThe recent tweets by Alex Hutchinson, creative director at the Montreal Studio of Stadia Games and Entertainment, do not reflect those of Stadia, YouTube or Google.
I never buy that sort of hogwash, as typically companies don't hire and/or promote people that exhibit a pattern of opposing their internal mission statement. I would surmise they probably very well agree with him entirely in his statement, but are mad that he actually said that on a public platform.


Last edited by Kyrottimus on 23 October 2020 at 3:43 pm UTC
orochi_kyo 23 Oct
Quoting: X6205Honestly, i am suprised that all those gameplay/walkthrough videos are not ilegal. How many people decide to watch gameplay instead of pay for the game and streamer got money from it. WTF? This cannot in any way benefit the publisher/developer. YT and others should at least demonetize these types of videos if not remove them completelly. It's like uploading full a movie. But then.. i call YouTube the biggest warez source :) All those full lenght movies uploaed by random people, full lenght movie/game sountracks or other music albums. And the same appliest for full gameplay (not short reviews).

IMO YouTube deserves shutdown for years of tolerating ilegal content. But i guess.. DMCA and others are scared of giants like Google. It's easier to bully average joe for downloading movie torrent.

People like you loves to play the devil's advocate, coming with this ridiculous point of view, which has no proof or whatsoever.

Among Us came out in 2018-2019 and it wasnt popular at all, it was another abandonware gathering dust in Steam and Appstore, suddenly some streamers started to play these "full lenght movies" you talk about and the game is now one of the most popular games right now with 300k, if developers are doing nothing against streaming, even most of them are happy for the free publicity they are getting, who are you to complain about it?

Please if you are a developer, please retire, become a doctor, or something else.
Mal 23 Oct
You know guys for legal topics regarding gaming and entertainment in general there is this (imho very) interesting channel on youtube where an actual and competent US lawyer discuss and explains topics like this. At least for me it was enlightening regarding a lot of US legal disputes regarding videogame topics (like Epic vs Apple). I'd wish there was something like this for IT legal matters in general outside pure entertainment.

Anyway regarding this subject he explains how there is a lot of intellectual dishonesty from Google and publishers in general. Alex Hutchinson is correct when he says streamers don't have the rights to do what they do. And that they are the total mercy of publishers. The fact that publishers (so far) always decided to not enforce the terms of use they themselves conceived and imposed to their users (including streamers) doesn't change that a streamer today has 0 power to defend his job should a publisher decide that it don't like him anymore. The whole point of EULAs is that they can (eventually?) be enforced, that's why people take the hassle to write them.

There would be a healthier and more honest relationship between streamers and publishers if EULAs explicitly allowed for streaming.
ObsidianBlk 23 Oct
Quoting: MalYou know guys for legal topics regarding gaming and entertainment in general there is this (imho very) interesting channel on youtube where an actual and competent US lawyer discuss and explains topics like this. At least for me it was enlightening regarding a lot of US legal disputes regarding videogame topics (like Epic vs Apple). I'd wish there was something like this for IT legal matters in general outside pure entertainment.

Anyway regarding this subject he explains how there is a lot of intellectual dishonesty from Google and publishers in general. Alex Hutchinson is correct when he says streamers don't have the rights to do what they do. And that they are the total mercy of publishers. The fact that publishers (so far) always decided to not enforce the terms of use they themselves conceived and imposed to their users (including streamers) doesn't change that a streamer today has 0 power to defend his job should a publisher decide that it don't like him anymore. The whole point of EULAs is that they can (eventually?) be enforced, that's why people take the hassle to write them.

There would be a healthier and more honest relationship between streamers and publishers if EULAs explicitly allowed for streaming.

I'm stating up front, I did not watch the video you linked, nor am I a lawyer, that said...

I don't think it's nearly as cut and dry as "streamers don't have the rights to do what they do". Even for media such as movies and books and even music, fair use laws allow for parody, criticism, review, and the ability to display segments of that work in the process, as long as the work is "transformative" in nature. On that notion, most streamers transform the game their are playing by the sheer fact they, the streamer, are interacting with it. Their narration is their performance overlapped with the backdrop of the game. The ultimate outcome is a transformed work.

In regards to EULAs... their enforceability is... questionable, and random ( EULA Wiki, Enforceability ). Some courts uphold them. Some courts have not upheld them. In general it boils down to the specific "infringement" and how it's worded. In fact, reading beyond the section about enforceability, it seems the question over how strong a EULA is has been mocked WITHIN EULAs... seriously, how enforceable is a EULA that bothers to put in a provision about giving up your soul to the company, even if it was added in jest?

I'm not saying basing a career on streaming games is a stable choice, but I think streamers have more ground to stand on than you make it sound. They're not "quite" at the whim of developers/publishers (I say this in that, realistically, if a dev/pub came after a streamer in a legal fight, the streamer would more or less back down due more to financial reasons than true legal ones. If, somehow, you has a legal fight where both the dev/pub AND the streamer were on the same financial footing, I definitely feel the streamer would have some good footing to fight from.)
Google: Makes their money by using the content produced by the entire internet; has not shown signs of being big on sharing with the content creators.

Also Google:
QuoteAmazing to me that people are upset at someone saying that the creators of content should be allowed to make some of the money from other people using their content for profit.

Uh huh. And when you consider that in the specific instance, the streamers could make a serious case for the idea that the publishers should be paying them for the advertising, well, good lord.
(this is my before-reading-the-discussion take)
Quoting: LinasI am not sure I understand it correctly. Is he implying that the streamers did not pay for the game they are streaming? As in piracy? Or does he want people to pay extra to be able to stream?
In terms of practicality it's moronic (sure, throw away all that free publicity the streamers are handing you!), but legally he's on fairly solid ground. Streamers are publishing streams of the game being played, the game is copyrighted, so it's arguably like you buy the DVD of a movie and then post it up on Youtube. Their possession of the game is perfectly legal, their broadcasting of it is not.
Of course there's an exception for, for instance, music sampling, parody and such. One might argue that since it's not just a movie recording but in fact new content is being created by the act of playing the game, arguably differently from the play of anyone else (even before you start adding in the voice over with reactions and other bits of creation by the streamers themselves), that should also be an exception. Dunno how that would play in court though.
Quoting: einherjarAnd there the typical Internet Drama of these days is seen again (Twitter "outrage" etc.)

Calm down, he has an opinion and it is different from what the most people think about that topic. So what?
So what is that he's not just some random dude, he's in a position to potentially do something about it. If some random person tweeted that, say, you shouldn't be afraid of the Coronavirus, that wouldn't be a huge deal. But what if, and I know this is a ludicrous example, the president of the United States was saying that kind of thing? It could lead to mass death.
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