I read over at TAGN about a controversy regarding comments by a developer that streamers should pay for the game services they play and/or for the rights to use the music they use to create their streams. As Wilhelm puts it in the post “I can think of no quicker way to put an end to video game streaming that trying to extract a license tax from streamers”. This made me immediately think of the struggles of many of the creative industries’ people that I know.
Making a comparison with the lot of actors, I know quite a few here in the UK, mostly depend on other income streams to live – according to one relatively recent newspaper article some 98% of them do not live off acting income alone. I imagine since the COVID pandemic started that’s even nearer 100% now. It’s a similar situation for other friends in other arts: poets, musicians, comic artists, etc. The vast majority of these talented folks cannot make a living out of what they love to do because the money isn’t there for the majority of them – some few stars get lifted up into a profitable stratospheric layer but that is nigh on impossible to achieve without powerful sponsors within the industry. To see a developer lashing out, in frustration or whatever other reason, at those lower down the earning ladder is pretty galling. He’s targetting the wrong people if he’s frustrated over the nightmarish state of monetisation in the gaming industry.
Although I had no intention to return to the topic of my last post on content trends, there is an overlap here. Streaming has been big for a few years now, and I suspect it is very slightly more likely to turn into some kind of regular income stream than blogging nowadays. I guess the earning potential is probably higher than the published tabletop rpg adventure writing that I’ve spent some time on over the last 12 months. That’s been a learning experience and enjoyable despite the many, many hours invested in it. But, if the DMs Guild platform or Wizards of the Coast were to change the terms to require me to pay up-front to use the D&D and Eberron intellectual properties, as opposed to the current 50% royalty cut on sales made, I’d immediately stop any future plans for further publications. I have no plans to become a MMO streamer, myself: I’m too used to a regular and comfortable salary to give that up for work that requires, I imagine, a lot more effort on self-promotion and marketing than it does actual creative work. Besides I hate the sound of my own voice and am not anywhere near comfortable enough with social media to make a success of it.
Just because it isn’t for me, however, I know enough creatives to sympathise greatly with their travails and just how stacked against the vast majority of them the monetisation of the gaming industry is. The idea that streamers should pay licenses to make their content, work that is basically ‘free’ promotional work for the companies and their games, strikes me as ridiculous. It is also typical of the manipulative language that surrounds the creative industries and just how exploitative these industries are of the creative people they depend upon. I’m only glad, as Wilhelm reports in his blog post, that industry leaders have so far distanced themselves from the opinions of this particular developer.