This letter is in response to a video that was released by Ryan ‘Gootecks’ on August 8th, 2013. It is assumed to be entirely factual and accurate statement given that no response has been issued by Capcom at the time of this writing. In the video, Gootecks explains that Capcom sent him a Cease and Desist letter for selling his well received strategy DVDs on his website Cross Counter TV claiming that Capcom has licensed exclusive strategy rights to Prima and BradyGames. Gootecks goes on to say that this only became an issue after the release of his guide featuring Tokido, the best Akuma player in Japan and EVO 2013 runner up. Ryan speculates that this is when Capcom Japan first took notice of his work and decided to shut it down. The full video is below. These words are my own and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ESFI or its partners.
This message goes out to you in hopes that you will come to understand the gravity of your misstep in your recent legal action against the well-known content creator Ryan “Gootecks” Gutierrez of Cross Counter TV. It’s important to note that I have absolutely no affiliation with Ryan in any sense of the word. I have no vested interest in Cross Counter TV, the success of his website, YouTube channel, his guides, or gaming aspirations. I am deeply disturbed by the recent legal actions taken by Capcom, but even still, I want you at Capcom to know that this letter is, in reality, written out of love for you and I firmly believe you can still make this right.
I have been involved as a player and editorialist in the professional gaming community in some capacity since 2002 when I attended my first QuakeCon in Dallas, Texas at the tender age of 15. The thousand person LAN, the inspired play of the tournament matches and the spontaneous friendships that developed out of that experience put me on a path that ultimately led to the creation of ESFI with Brent Ruiz in 2008. In addition to being a gaming media site, one of the founding tenets of ESFI is to support the development and growth of the professional gaming community through responsible and sustainable means. Occasionally, that means addressing the injustices done to our community members.
Making a living in the professional gaming industry is a notoriously difficult job. The cards are stacked against you in almost every conceivable way. The amount of time, passion, energy and skill required to compete at a high enough level to win money at a major tournament is unfathomable to those who have never tried it.The amount of time, passion, energy and skill required to compete at a high enough level to win money at a major tournament is unfathomable to those who have never tried it.Let’s assume you want to be a professional gamer. You love the game, you love the community and your drive to fulfill your dream is your singular focus in life (as it must be to be even remotely competitive). You dedicate a year of your life playing 8-10 hours a day, since any less would be a waste of time. Let’s say that all of your practice and dedication has paid off and inspired by your love of competition and the community that fosters it, you become one of the top 32 players in the world at the game of your choice. Feelings of joy will soon be replaced by the abject horror of the realization that all of your sacrifices (the outings with friends you skipped, the education you put on hold, the job you quit, the family tensions you endured) will not support you since the tournaments will only pay out to the top eight competitors.
If you’re lucky you might place in the money, but even then, when you do the math of the time spent versus the money you made, you’ll find that you made significantly less than poverty wages. Taking a minimum wage job at this point begins to look like a legitimate career advancement.
And thus was the cycle. Leagues and tournaments bait young players with a passion for these games and a dream of making it their lives. For the lucky ones the dream does happen, but the majority of extremely talented, dedicated players are kicked to the curb and abandoned. This is assuming that your game of choice is even still around to play next tournament. In some cases the leagues themselves dissolve into the past.
One of the best aspects of the professional gaming community today is the multiple avenues of revenue that are now available to those with an expertise in gaming. Streaming sites like Twitch and YouTube give cash-strapped gamers the ability to show off their talent. This new style of monetization in e-sports is absolutely crucial for the stability of the industry and is a step in the right direction. But it’s not enough. Gaming companies like Valve have recognized the plight of the pro gamer and have added monetization tools inside of Dota 2 to help mitigate the financial risk for pros by allowing the sale of custom items through their popular Steamworks catalogue. They do this because they know that, without a stable and healthy feedback loop between professional gamers, content creators and normal players, their game will die. All three are necessary for a vibrant community to exist.The fact that Ryan took the enormous risk of creating high quality content to service the FGC should be applauded, not threatened.
So what does this all have to do with Gootecks? It’s clear that Ryan had a goal of making his name in the FGC as a premier content creator, because despite being a talented Balrog player, he just couldn’t keep the dream alive without supplementing his income through content creation. In the quest do so, he partnered with some of the best players in the world and put together high quality, comprehensive fighting game tutorials – tutorials which no other person on the planet had the passion or inclination to create due to their upfront costs. To mitigate these costs, CCTV charged an upfront fee to access this material. Instead of using the CPM model, he chose to go the storefront model. As a content creator, I know that the storefront model carries significantly more risk than the CPM model, especially in the days of rampant piracy (something with which I’m sure Capcom can relate to). The fact that Ryan took the enormous risk of creating high quality content to service the FGC should be applauded, not threatened. In all honesty, Capcom should really be lining up to offer him a job or at the very least to thank him.
And why is it that Capcom has decided to go after Gootecks and not the endless number of gaming magazines that have published strategies for Capcom games over the years? Do they not also conflict with the contract between Prima and Capcom? Should GameFaqs be worried next? How about the pro players who sell lessons online? This whole situation stinks of greed and profiteering. Is this all Prima trying to protect their dead industry of game guides that no one buys anymore? They do know about the internet, right? The fact is that no company owns the skill and knowledge that pro players have. You may own the assets of the game, but the game is only the medium through which players express their skill, but a player’s skill is their own and they can share or sell that information as they please.
I’ve seen enough gamers living in poverty trying to make this thing work for them and I promise you that it’s not a desirable way to go. Capcom needs to be encouraging and actively developing the feedback loop that allows high skilled players and content creators to thrive and sustain themselves, not actively work to protect the interest of a dying games guide industry whose only competitive advantage is early access to the games and high pressure sales at GameStop. It’s only then that the games will thrive too. Otherwise, we should all just hang up our hats and forget about this whole thing. We have enough trouble making this industry viable without battling the game developers every step of the way too.
Do the right thing here, Capcom. Publicly apologize to Gootecks and commit that you will support the entire pro gaming ecosystem because we are your lifeblood. We all have to work together to make this thing work.