It appears that using Twitch’s new Subscriber Streams feature could be against the terms of service of many of the most popular games on the platform.
Twitch announced on June 26 that a new ‘Subscriber Stream’ feature would be coming to the website, which will allow creators to broadcast exclusively to viewers with a paid subscription to their channel.
The announcement has been met with a considerable amount of backlash, with many fans decrying the ability for streamers to put their content behind a paywall. Some popular streamers themselves even expressed uncertainty about the new option, with xQc stating that he has “a lot of concerns with it.”
It appears, however, that fans might not have to worry too much, as many of Twitch’s biggest games have rules in their terms of service that seem to prohibit streamers from using Subscriber Streams while playing them.
While most games allow players to monetize content around them through partnerships, sponsors, or advertising, such as on YouTube videos or Twitch streams, many have clauses that prohibit content creators from requiring viewers to pay in order to see it.
As identified by League of Legends streamer Gross Gore, Riot’s popular MOBA has a stipulation that players streaming the game can “offer subscription-based content while live-streaming games, so long as non-subscribers can still watch the games concurrently”, which Subscriber Streams would appear to be in breach of.
I need help please @RiotSupport @twitch made a "Sub only can view streams"— Gross Gore (@GrossieGore) June 30, 2019
Does this mean I cannot stream your games with this mode on under your legal section?
Please get back to me. pic.twitter.com/OdB5F4GbqD
Likewise, Valve’s video policy, which applies to games like DotA 2 and CS:GO, states that “you can’t charge uses to view or access your videos.” Blizzard also have a rule stating that “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).”
It’s not just streamers in the big competitive games that could fall foul of such rules, if they use Subscriber Streams. CD Projekt Red, developers of The Witcher series and upcoming Cyberpunk 2077, also states that content must be non-commercial, which means that “you can neither charge users to view your work nor sell or license it to others in exchange for any kind of payment.”
With such rules featuring in the terms of service for so many of the biggest titles on Twitch, it seems likely that, in their current form at least, Subscriber Streams will be limited almost exclusively to the non-gaming sections of Twitch such as “Just Chatting” or “IRL”.
The following major games appear to have terms of service prohibiting the use of Subscriber Streams or similar pay-walls:
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