12th August: I’m leaving this post up so you can see what happened, but thanks to a contact within Sony UK I’ve been able to get the Youtube channel back! We still can’t stream but the videos are back online!
So this post is really for the four thousand people that tuned in to watch us play No Man’s Sky over the weekend. I wanted to let you know what happened, what I think went wrong, and what I’m hoping will happen now. As a disclaimer, I don’t think this really had anything to do with Hello Games or Youtube. Youtube’s system is clearly flawed, but everything that happened on their part was automated. Sony Interactive Entertainment of America are the real bad guys here as far as I’m concerned. Or possibly their lawyers.
So on Saturday morning my copy of No Man’s Sky arrived. I didn’t get a review copy, I didn’t sign any embargoes to get it early, I just bought it from Simply Games and happened to get lucky when they sent it out on Friday and my post arrived quickly. I immediately put it in the PS4 and started using the PS4’s streaming features to stream to my Youtube channel. Up until then, my Youtube channel had plenty of content, hours of videos of me playing games as I reviewed them, and just messing around with theme park games, but it only had sixty six subscribers and on streams I rarely got more than twelve people watching. This all changed with No Man’s Sky.
Almost immediately my views starting shooting up, through the hundreds, then into the thousands. Spurred on by the awesome community that was evolving in my chat, we starting egging people on to Subscribe. In the first day we went from 66 to 1000 subscribers. There were 1500 people in the chat, there were volunteer moderators, I was streaming for something like 12 hours in a day, with very few breaks. It was awesome. PSN kept crashing and making me sign in again, so the video was split up into chunks (this is important later) but it was fine because people kept coming back and we explored the game together, hyping it up and trying things out. So many people commented saying they were persuaded to buy the game after watching me play.
On Sunday the same happened again, I woke up at 8am and started streaming. I carried on through the whole day, starting a journey to get to the centre. By the evening we had four thousand subscribers and over two thousand people watching at once. The community was real and familiar faces started showing up, there were in-jokes, it was chilled and relaxed and amazing. Then one time the stream went down (as it had something like twenty six times over the weekend) and I couldn’t start it again. I started getting a new error. People in the chat got restless and eventually started to leave. I saw that Sony had issued a copyright strike against one video, and by this time we were all so tired we decided to call it a night.
On Monday morning I woke up at 7am and my wife told me my Youtube channel had gone. I woke up to find I couldn’t sign in to Youtube at all, my channel no longer existed. Checking my e-mails I saw that Sony had submitted a series of copyright strikes in close succession, meaning my channel was automatically banned and the videos were removed. I now can’t sign in to the channel, cannot communicate with those subscribers what happened, can’t access my own videos, it’s all gone. At no point did anyone from Sony, Hello Games or Youtube contact me to say that they thought I was doing something wrong, I still haven’t had any contact from the people responsible for the strikes. All of them had an e-mail address called PiracyRIA@… which is strange as I haven’t pirated anything.
This morning I started the stream up again at https://www.stream.me/tpreview and that was a moderate success with 150 viewers as we finally reached the centre of the galaxy. As exciting as it was, I can’t help but feel that it would have been better with the thousands of people who’d seen the journey to get there. Eventually StreamMe broke down and we moved to https://www.twitch.tv/tpreview where we are still streaming now.
Sean Murray has tweeted to a couple of Youtubers that he is sorry their channels got banned and he’s working to try and get it sorted, he hasn’t said anything like that to me yet, probably because we’re little fish in the Youtube Ocean. We hope someone sees this because it seems remarkably unfair to take down a whole channel over a stream of a legitimately obtained game. We spent two days and around twenty five hours building hype for the game, discussing the patch, exploring, and trying things out. We rained down positivity on the game and built up more excitement for what is already a much-anticipated game. And Sony’s way of thanking us was to completely shut down the Youtube part of our site with no communication at all.
As it stands, we can’t access Youtube. We have e-mailed everyone we can, we’ve tweeted and called everyone we can, but we’re not sure if we’ll ever get that channel back. We have videos of the center of the universe that we’ll upload somewhere when we can, and we’re happy to get suggestions as to where, but for now we’re locked out. We really hope Sony will rectify the mistake, allow us to put the videos back up, and we can go back to an awesome stream on Youtube exploring the game all over again with the new patch. Until that happens we’ll try to do the same on Twitch, but I miss those subscribers, that community. Please let us have it back.
Update: 19:20PM GMT 8th August
So this is the Twitter conversation me and Sony have just had, verbatim.
TPReview: Any help with restoring my Youtube channel that was taken down last night for playing a legit copy of No Man’s Sky?
Sony: Unfortunately there is nothing that we can do about this, as the game is released on 10th of August. Please try again on 10th ^SN
TPReview: Try again to do what? get access to the rest of my Youtube videos and subscribers? I can hide the videos now if you remove strikes
Sony: As stated before, we can’t help you with this. Please contact Youtube for more information ^SN
TPReview: Youtube said to get the channel back Sony needs to remove the strikes. Otherwise I can’t speak to my 4000 subscribers
TPReview: The 4000 subscribers who loved joining me watching No Man’s Sky, ones who got hyped and many of whom said it inspired them to buy
TPReview: Here’s a help page on how to retract a copyright strike https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/2807691 …
Sony: As the game is released in PSN 10th of august, you might get banned from platforms for playing this content earlier ^SN
TPReview: You should ship that out in the game boxes and maybe go after the retailer who sent it to me rather than a fan’s YT channel :(
TPReview: I had zero warning or communication before my entire channel was banned by Sony for playing a game I’ve been waiting two years for
TPReview: I lost hundreds of hours of video and 4000 subscribers, retract the strikes and I will remove the videos
Personally, I feel like Sony are in the wrong here. They could have told me to take the videos down, and I would. They could have given me one strike and done that, they could have even done it then admitted it was heavy handed, but here they are saying I shouldn’t play the game early and I could be punished more if I play it. Because who would want to play a game they’ve been waiting for?