YouTube updates its rules on video game violence

A new YouTube policy will enable video games with simulated violence to be classified and assessed in the same way as television and movies. The policy will effectively ensure that creators can upload gaming videos featuring simulated violence, without concerns about being restricted.
YouTube gaming
YouTube has become a hugely popular platform for video gaming content. Photo: Solomon203 via Wikimedia.

Age restriction

Previously, particularly violent video games could result in age restricted gating ensuring that many viewers were unable to access the content. But nowYouTube will ensure that it treats games in the way that other entertainment formats are currently handled.

The policy will allow for future gaming videos featuring scripted or simulated violence to be accessed directly without the aforementioned age-gating. This would mean that they would be made available to anyone with a YouTube account, and not merely those users who have stated that they are over the age of 18.

However, some restrictions will remain in place. YouTube has noted that extreme violence will still results in age-gating, and that this will also likely occur when a violent scene is the sole focus of a particular video.

Nonetheless, the policy will result in far fewer restrictions for violence in gaming, according to YouTube, with the site keen to emphasize that it will continue to “maintain our high bar to protect audiences from real-world violence,” according to a product update.

YouTube video games
YouTube attracts many creators who concentrate on gaming content. Photo: Marco Verch via Flickr.

Wojcicki concerns

However, there are still concerns among YouTube creators regarding the demonetis
zation of violent video game content. YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki has acknowledged that this is an issue for creators, and addressed the issue in a recent letter to the YouTube community.

“We’re working to identify advertisers who are interested in edgier content, like a marketer looking to promote an R-rated movie, so we can match them with creators whose content fits their ads,” Wojcicki wrote. “In its first month, this program resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars in ads on yellow icon videos”.

Many YouTube users have already expressed their frustrations with various restrictions associated with the platform, many of which can potentially impact on their earning potential. Indeed, some YouTube users have suggested that anything other than family-friendly gaming content is likely to be demonetized on the platform, which restricts a large swathe of popular games.

Twitch YouTube
YouTube is attempting to rival Amazon’s Twitch in the gaming niche. Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr.

Gaming summit

Moderator and well-known YouTube creator Matthew “MatPat” Patrick questioned Wojcicki about the monetization issue at a recent gaming summit, and the CEO of YouTube conceded that there are problems with some advertisers. Wojcicki noted that the company has “been trying to invest in advertisers understanding why this is an important vertical,” but clearly there still needs to be a paradigm shift in thinking on this subject.

YouTube launched its gaming platform in 2015, in an attempt to compete with the hugely popular Twitch streaming service. But many creators who produce gaming content for YouTube instead rely on the video platform, rather than streaming gameplay in real time.

Twitch was purchased by Amazon in a deal worth almost $1 billion in 2014, and has since gone for strength-to-strength as streaming has become something of a cultural phenomenon.

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