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[Update] Riot Comments Again On LCS Streaming Policy

by Mike Futter on Dec 06, 2013 at 12:37 PM

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Update #2: Following outcry from players and fans, along with a strong reaction from some of the developers whose titles were on the banned list, Riot will be amending its approach to streaming. The news comes by way of another comment on Reddit from Riot director of eSports Whalen Roselle.

Hey everyone,

There’s been a ton of discussion around our LCS team contracts, which stipulated active LCS players couldn’t stream a variety of other games.

First, background on why we did this: there’ve been instances of other game studios trying to buy access to League fans by using (or trying to use) LCS teams/players to promote their competing games on stream.

The way we chose to deal with this was clearly an overreach. It hit our goal of preventing companies from advertising through LCS players, but it also encroached on pros’ ability to have fun and entertain viewers during long Challenger queues – and we realize that’s not cool.

After reading all of your comments and having a LOT of internal debate over the last 24 hours, we’re going to be changing the LCS team requirement to something that more closely matches our intent. While under contract to the LCS, teams and players can’t accept sponsorship from other game companies to promote other titles. Besides that, they are free to stream any games they want.

I'll be hanging around to answer questions if you guys have any. Thanks for helping us make a better decision on this.

You can follow that ongoing conversation in the Reddit thread.


Update #1: Riot Games' director of eSports has commented on the issue of streaming restrictions.

Whalen Rozelle took to Reddit (as spotted by OnGamers) to address the controversy.

We say this all the time: we want League of Legends to be a legitimate sport. There are some cool things that come from that (salaried professional athletes, legitimate revenue streams, visas, Staples Center), but there’s also a lot of structural work that needs to be done to ensure a true professional setting.

We recognize there may be some differences of opinion in the perception of pro players’ streams. In the past, pro gamers only had to worry about their personal brands when streaming and, at most, may have had to worry about not using the wrong brand of keyboard to keep their sponsor happy. Now, however, these guys are professionals contracted to a professional sports league. When they’re streaming to 50,000 fans, they’re also representing the sport itself.

I can’t stress enough how these guys in the LCS are on the road to being real, legitimate athletes. This is new territory for a lot of teams (especially in esports), because the transition goes from being a group of talented individuals to being real icons of a sport and a league. Similarly, you probably wouldn’t see an NFL player promoting Arena Football or a Nike-sponsored player wearing Reebok on camera. Pro players are free to play whatever games they want – we’re simply asking them to keep in mind that, on-stream, they’re the face of competitive League of Legends.


Original Story:

Riot Games is about ready to get Season 4 of the League Championship Series underway. With that comes new contracts for competing League of Legends teams. This time our, Riot is taking steps to protect its brand by limiting what its contracted players can stream.

The agreement document obtained by OnGamers has two separate clauses that apply to the streaming of competing games, including all of Blizzard's titles, Valve's Dota 2, and World of Tanks. The first deals with "adjacent" streaming. At times, players will stream other games while waiting in a queue for the next match. The new agreement includes a list of titles expressly forbidden, including many MOBAs, gambling sites, and websites displaying pornography.

Not shown as part of the OnGamer story (but referenced in an update) is another clause that expressly prohibits streaming gameplay of the titles listed in the OnGamers-acquired document. We reached out to Riot for comment on the matter, but the company declined to comment.

[Source: OnGamers]


Our Take
While this might seem like a draconian move, Riot Games is well within its rights to ask contracted and sponsored players not to stream competing products. Likewise, players are within their right to decline (and simultaneously sever ties). Riot is working to protect its brand in an increasingly competitive environment, and this is a smart move for the company.

Players might not like this, but the prohibition only covers streaming. They can still play those titles in a non-public way (just as many publishers and developers play each others games in the privacy of their own homes). There's big money in eSports, and if the players want it to keep flowing, they'll need to realize that Riot (and Valve and Blizzard) needs to protect its interests.