New Twitch Subscriber-Only Streams May Break The TOS Of The Biggest Game Companies, Including Riot, Blizzard And More

New Twitch Subscriber-Only Streams May Break The TOS Of The Biggest Game Companies, Including Riot, Blizzard And More
Credit: Twitch

The new Twitch subscriber-only stream mode was released a few days ago. Though viewership is low so far – you only need to take a quick look at the tagged selection of pay-to-watch streams on Twitch to see that – when one of the larger Streamers decides to host a subscriber-only stream it could break the TOS of some of the largest gaming companies.

Take this example from the Blizzard TOS:

Neither you nor the operator of any website where your Production(s) may be viewed can force a viewer to pay a “fee” to be able to view your Production(s).

Or this example from Valve:

Use of our content in videos must be non-commercial. By that we mean you can’t charge users to view or access your videos. You also can’t sell or license your videos to others for a payment of any kind.

Many companies have these sorts of clauses to protect their content from being monetized by third-parties. Advertising on video game content is still fine under these clauses, but getting people to pay to watch someone playing a game is not.

There has been a lot of complicated debate about the rights of video game content creators. Often, game creators are encouraged to play games, and studios often pay large streamers like Shroud or DrDisrepect to give their game coverage over a few hours of stream-time.

However, Twitch’s new subscriber-only mode goes against the TOS of the same companies. It looks like Twitch has completely ignored these TOS, or at least hopes the companies will not enforce them.

Twitch introduced these pay-to-watch streams a few days ago. As of yet, none of the larger streamers has hosted a subscriber-only stream, although Shroud has voiced his interest for occasional special streams.

This isn’t the first time streams have been monetized in such a way. Back when SC2 was the largest eSport on the scene, MLG paywalled the high-quality (above 240p) streams. Pay per view is nothing new in the world of entertainment either, with some of the biggest boxing matches behind hefty paywalls.

It’s hard to say whether the pay-to-view streams will affect Twitch (or these companies) in any way. The reception has been mixed so far. Some like the idea of having special streams for paying viewers, whereas others see it as a worrying precedent for the future of content creation on the platform.