Phil Fish, creator of “Fez,” stirred up another social media firestorm after accusing YouTube users of stealing revenue from video game developers via his now deleted Twitter account.
In a series of tweets captured by GameSpot, Fish said, “YouTubers should have to pay out a huge portion of their revenue to the developers from which they steal all their content.” He followed that up by saying, “(Ad) revenue should be shared with developers. This should be built into YouTube. Anything else is basically piracy.”
These comments came on the heels of the revelation that YouTube superstar Felix Kjellberg, better known as PewDiePie, generates close to $4 million a year in ad revenue with most of that being pure profit.
How does this relate to Fish’s complaints about YouTubers? Before deleting his Twitter account, Fish said, “If you generate money from putting my content on your channel, you owe me money. Simple as that. If you buy a movie, are you then allowed to stream the entirety of it publicly for people to watch for free? No, because that’s illegal. Systems are in place to prevent that. But buy Fez, put ALL of it on YouTube, turn on ads, make money from it and that’s TOTALLY FINE. And the developer should in NO WAY be compensated for their work being freely distributed to the world. Right. Makes sense.”
In fairness, Fish has a point. It is not legal to publicly broadcast a movie, especially in an online setting where the broadcaster could generate ad revenue. Video games fall under the same guidelines. The problem with video games is that the movie industry has a one-stop-shop for acquiring rights to public performances of movies. The video game industry does not and it ultimately puts the onus on the owner of the copyright to exert control over its work, something that has been a point of contention for years with YouTube and video game publishers.
The problem with Fish is his prickly attitude and his propensity to set off fireworks in social media. “Fez 2” was canceled because he was sick of the “abuse” he was taking from people online and in social media. But he brought much of that on himself as he antagonized people and fought back, fueling the flame war between himself and the Internet mob. Fish chose to leave gaming development in an announcement stating, “Fez 2 is cancelled. I am done. I take the money and I run. This is as much as I can stomach. This is isn’t the result of any one thing, but the end of a long, bloody campaign. You win.”
Obviously Fish is a passionate individual. He’s also extremely outspoken and doesn’t seem to care about burning bridges. He comes off as a bitter, resentful old man shooing children off of his lawn.
He could serve as a strong voice to champion for the rights of developers when it comes to generating revenue from their work if he were able to find a tactful way to broach the topic, but that doesn’t seem to be his way and you can’t change someone who isn’t willing to be changed, for better or worse.
He took his ball and went home when he canceled “Fez 2” and quit video game development almost a year ago. He stoked the flames of social media again and has since retreated from Twitter. Who knows what will bring him out of hiding in the future. When he does resurface, watch for burning bridges.
Reach the reporter at Michael.Jerome.Martin@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter at @Bizarro_Mike