Two days ago, the highly anticipated Persona 5 launched in the West. While this was cause for great celebration for Atlus fans, the company also ticked a lot of people off with its policy about streaming the JRPG. This policy, which can be found in its entirety here, basically boils down to "Be careful not to spoil the game for people. If you do, we may try to shut down your channel." As the makers of the game, Atlus has a right to make suggestions on how to best experience it, but outright threatening to take down accounts is an abuse of power.
To give Atlus some credit, Persona 5 is a very story-driven game. You don't play for the combat or the dungeon crawling; you play for the character development and plot. Thus, it makes sense that Atlus would want to protect this critical component. But the way they're going about this is so restrictive that they can't really enforce it without some major backlash.
From a creator's perspective, YouTubers and livestreamers have become a huge part of the industry and continue to have a big impact. These personalities can draw in views not only from fans, but from people who might not otherwise know what the game is. Some people may even want to experience the story without the hassle of gameplay.
While they might be doing it with the best of intentions, Atlus is limiting creators' ability to produce their content, some of whom do this as a full-time gig. If streamers follow these guidelines, Atlus is killing the possibility of making Let's Plays or other video content around Persona 5. And yet, not following these guidelines could result in a channel suspension, which could literally mean the loss of the sole means of income for some of these people.
This is affecting more than just content creators though—it's affecting consumers as well. As part of enacting this policy, Atlus has disabled the PlayStation 4's native ability to share footage. This includes taking in-game screenshots (a feature I'd make heavy use of) and even screenshots of the trophies. Of course, there are ways to get around this. There are various capture cards for videos and even cell phone cameras for screenshots. But we shouldn't be required to resort to these methods to get around some arbitrary, overbearing policies. With Atlus dictating what streamers can and can't show off, they're essentially mandating what we can and can't see. These policies are saying that we as a gaming community aren't responsible enough to keep a game spoiler-free for ourselves. It's a huge slap in the face.
A game developer's job isn't to police the Internet for spoilers. They make games, we play them. It falls on us as consumers to ultimately choose how we want to play the game and how much information we want going into it. If you as a gamer are purposefully going out and searching for footage of the game, you should expect there to be spoilers. For those of us who want to go in with a clean slate, you can simply avoid streams. We've been doing it since September, 2016, when the game launched in Japan. What makes now any different?
As much as I love them, Atlus has really ticked me off with this policy. And while it won't stop me from sinking hundreds of hours into Persona 5 over the next few months, it bothers me that I won't be able to document my playthroughs with ease.
I understand the desire to protect your art, but this is not the way to do it, Atlus.