Popular streaming site Twitch is banning users from streaming games rated Adults Only, or AO, by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB).
Twitch’s PR director told the Daily Dot this was simply a clarification of existing policy, rather than an outright change of policy.“The decision was made to bring more clarity to our Rules of Conduct,” he wrote via email. “Generally, games that fall in the AO-rated spectrum have always been out of bounds on Twitch due to the standard language of both the RoC and ToS. Instead of dealing with this on a per-game basis, we wanted to make a very clear standard rule set.”
ESRB ratings apply only to games released in the United States. Twitch has specified that any version of a game, released for any market, with an American version rated AO may not be streamed.
“Previously, we made game-specific decisions about which games would and would not be available for broadcast,” the site noted in an official update, “sometimes due to overtly sexual content, sometimes due to gratuitous violence. This is unsustainable and unclear, generating only further confusion among Twitch broadcasters. We would like to make this policy as transparent as possible.”
Since the announcement, redditors have speculated that the imminent release of the isometric shooter Hatred, a game about a “genocide crusade” in the words of the game’s protagonist, also described as a mass shooting simulator, motivated the timing of this announcement. Hatred was rated Adults Only by the ESRB in January, and will be released June 1 on Steam.
Popular PC-centric pundit and Twitch streamer TotalBiscuit summed up on Twitter this sentiment in the gaming community:
Twitch’s latest ban on AO rated game streaming is essentially a “Don’t stream Hatred” rule – http://t.co/1AkeIS8C6V
— John Bain (@Totalbiscuit) May 28, 2015
Twitch did not respond in time for publication to request for comment as to whether the release of Hatred had anything to do with its decision to institute the blanket ban on AO-rated games.