This is big news to a degree that I'd call a potential paradigm shift. You may ask why I'm making a big deal out of this.
Well, up until now the video game industry hasn't really enforced its copyrights to the point of blocking content which, in my opinion, was a great idea. When a gamer creates a video with a game's footage in it, it becomes free advertising for the game company. I can't tell you how many times I myself have watched game videos and have either been lured back to playing it or bought it when I hadn't planned to do so. No game trailer can give you the insight into a game that seeing actual gameplay can. Renting a game and trying it out is even better, but that costs money and can't be done at your whim. You also don't get the opportunity to see very far into the game, generally speaking, and that's a factor in a purchase.
Seeing that gamers enjoyed watching gameplay videos, a community was born that put them up...and eventually started making money in the form of ad revenue and/or from joining companies like Machinima that also sprouted up to take advantage of the same niche.
Now there are YouTube partners like me who won't really care. I'll be honest with you and say that I had originally intended to try to make some cash from my hobby - most of my videos were monetized - but that brought in the tiniest of trickles of money and in the end I saw myself worrying more about what to put out there to attract the viewers for cash than having a good time putting out content that shared with my viewers what I loved. You'll notice my videos aren't monetized anymore, that I've continued on, and even expanded my hobby with this blog and am much happier for it. So if my video viewers can stand the possible ads that may be placed there by the gaming companies sometime in the future, I'll be happy and will continue to put out videos and other content.
There are others out there, though, that put their heart, soul, and pretty much all of their time into turning out videos that are largely made up of gameplay for their large audiences. And views of those videos (or more importantly views of the ad content) pay their bills, at least to a point. Add that income to a partnership with one of the bigger gaming news companies out there and that's their living we're talking about. If game companies start claiming ad revenue from any video that has their game's gameplay in it, these individuals and companies have little reason to expend the effort and resources to put out their content. They'll likely cease to exist for the most part.
So a great part of this community and the businesses thereof may just fade away IF other game companies follow suit and start enforcing their copyrights and claim ad revenue from videos.
The thing is that these companies have every right to enforce their copyrights. And maybe they all should. But, in the end, will they be making more money from the ads or would they have made more from the free advertising that the user-made videos created?
Really, though, we may be putting the cart in front of the horse. A slippery slope is not a logical argument. Just because one gaming company does this doesn't mean that they'll all follow suit. Instead of the entire industry adopting this policy and taking down the gameplay video community, we may just see Nintendo do it and then see a glaring lack of their games' gameplay videos out there (for good or for bad for Nintendo).
I'd be interested to hear the thoughts from those who do (at least appear to) make a living from putting out YouTube videos. I'd hate to see guys like Force and Woody, as well as companies like Machinima fade away. I enjoy their work.
Update: Thanks to Woody for a reply to my tweet. It makes me feel a little better that the industry has ways to take care of their own.
@tachigray @forcestrategy @machinima_com cod guys under ign have contracts in place to protect us. I'm fine.
— WoodysGamertag (@WoodysGamertag) May 17, 2013