Visual novel fan becomes first to be arrested in Japan for uploading gameplay videos to YouTube

Steins;Gate: My Darling's Embrace
(Image credit: Spike Chunsoft Co. Ltd)

A 52-year-old from Nagoya, Japan is facing charges of illegally uploading and monetizing gameplay videos to a public YouTube channel.

As Japan Today reports (via GamesIndustry), the charges stem from Shinobu Yoshida's alleged uploading of three gameplay videos from the Japanese visual novel Steins;Gate: My Darling's Embrace. The game was originally released on Xbox 360 back in 2011 and most recently re-released Nintendo Switch, PS4, and Windows in 2019. Police say the videos uploaded to Yoshida's YouTube account were monetized and had been collecting ad revenue. Perhaps also related, one of the videos is purported to have revealed the game's ending.

Yoshida is said to have also uploaded videos from the Steins;Gate anime adaptation as well as the Spy x Family anime, but those don't appear to be related to the charges being brought.

As Japan Today explains, non-monetized gameplay videos from Japanese YouTube accounts are commonplace and so far have yet to be subject to legal action, but Steins;Gate rights holder Kadokawa felt this case warranted charges because it's related to a visual novel, designed to be watched without interaction from the player. In theory, that would make any YouTube upload, particularly one containing the ending to the story, a "far more viable substitute" to actually buying the game. 

Yoshida has since said that he "knew it was illegal, even as I was doing it," and Japan's Content Overseas Distribution Promotion Organization (CODA) said in a separate statement that, "in principle," any use of gameplay videos should require permission from the rights holder.

Jordan Gerblick

After scoring a degree in English from ASU, I worked as a copy editor while freelancing for places like SFX Magazine, Screen Rant, Game Revolution, and MMORPG on the side. Now, as GamesRadar's west coast Staff Writer, I'm responsible for managing the site's western regional executive branch, AKA my apartment, and writing about whatever horror game I'm too afraid to finish.