May 19 2014 - 4:22 pm

Would YouTube's copyright police ruin Twitch?

If YouTube buys video game streaming company Twitch for $1 billion, a deal multiple reports suggest is imminent, the San Francisco startup has a lot to look forward to: Much more cash, a better global infrastructure, and the invaluable clout of being a Go
Patrick Howell O'Neill
Dot Esports

If YouTube buys video game streaming company Twitch for $1 billion, a deal multiple reports suggest is imminent, the San Francisco startup has a lot to look forward to: Much more cash, a better global infrastructure, and the invaluable clout of being a Google company.

However, when the deal was first reported yesterday, the hashtag #RIPTwitch trended on Twitter as the website’s fans worried about what fate awaited their favorite live streaming platform.

The biggest potential problem facing a newly Google-ized Twitch is YouTube’s infamous Content ID system, the tool YouTube uses to identify and block copyrighted material around the world.

Using copyrighted music is ostensibly against Twitch’s terms of service. But Twitch streamers have notoriously played whatever music they please in the background on their streams. Some of the most popular streamers in the site’s history, from League of Legends player Alex Ich to StarCraft 2 star Idra, have thousands of hours of archives that contain unlicensed copyrighted music, videos that may be at risk if this deal goes through.

If YouTube buys Twitch, the worst case scenario is that millions of videos are suddenly blocked and unwatchable because of the copyrighted material that is playing on them.

Worse, YouTube's algorithms have a history of making serious mistakes, flagging videos that contain no copyrighted material at all.  Late last year, for instance, it blocked a game-maker from uploading video of his own game. And, once flagged, uploaders can’t run their own ads, which causes them to lose out on their entire revenue stream.

The content ID system has also been fooled so that ad revenue is diverted to people who have no copyright claim over videos. In one case, a channel named 4GamerMovie claimed rights to all reviews, Let’s Plays, and walkthroughs for games such as Metro: Last Light and Saint’s Row. It took the publisher itself stepping up to support the original video makers and speak out against the copyright thief. Even when game makers such as Deep Silver and Capcom have publicly declared support and given explicit permission for for the YouTube video makers to use their games, the videos have still been taken down.

Some of YouTube’s biggest video game streamers say the copyright system is a real threat to their livelihood.

"Four fucking years of hard work, now in jeopardy, because of your new blanket system that completely favors big corporations and anybody with a lot of [money] whether it's right or wrong," gaming critic Joe Vargas said in a video last year.

YouTube’s copyright chaos affects entire countries. Germans know too well what it feels like to see blocked videos on YouTube: Google has repeatedly run into major issues when it comes to copyrights in Germany so that millions of major videos are blocked specifically in that country. If YouTube buys Twitch, will the live streaming company inherit those issues?

Twitch has repeatedly declined to comment on any story on this subject.

A copyright crusade would not shock many Twitch users. The service has been exploding in popularity for years and fans have known that the hammer would have to fall at some point, whether or not YouTube came into the picture.

How exactly Twitch handles the potential transitional period could define both the past and future of the company. At stake? Three years of videos made by tens of millions of users.

Illustration by Jason Reed

Jan 20 2017 - 5:28 pm

Combo Breaker announcement may imply the end of auto-qualifiers for Capcom Pro Tour

Capcom may be trying to simplify its 2017 Pro Tour.
Steve Jurek
Dot Esports
Image via Capcom

A big change is coming to the 2017 Capcom Pro Tour, but yesterday's announcement may have hinted at an even larger change—a possible end to players winning automatic qualification into the Capcom Cup through Premier events.

The Street Fighter V tournament at Combo Breaker is being upgraded to a Premier event for the 2017 Pro Tour, Capcom announced via Twitter. The event, which will take place in the Chicago area over Memorial Day weekend, served as a Ranking event in 2015 and 2016. Its spiritual predecessor, the Ultimate Fighting Game Tournament, filled the same role in 2014.

Premier events award more Capcom Pro Tour points to top performers compared to Ranking events. A yet-to-be-announced number of the season's top points earners will earn a spot in the Capcom Cup, the season's championship event. Premier events also offer a Capcom-provided pot bonus. The figure has not yet been confirmed by Capcom, but it is believed to be $15,000.

In previous years, a player who won a Premier event received an automatic berth in that season's Capcom Cup. Thursday's announcement, however, may have implied that this is no longer the case.

An update on Combo Breaker's website stated that placing well at the event "will earn you valuable ranking points that put you well on your way to qualifying for the Capcom Cup!"

Notably, the statement makes no mention of an automatic berth into the Capcom Cup, something that every Premier event winner has been awarded since the Pro Tour's founding in 2014.

The statement does not necessarily confirm that auto-qualification into the Capcom Cup has been eliminated. It does, however, fall in line with statements made by Capcom esports director Neidel Crisan. In conversations with both Yahoo! Esports and EventHubs late last year, Crisan mentioned the possibility of eliminating auto-qualification berths in order to simplify the qualifying process.

A player had three ways to qualify for the Capcom Cup in 2016; winning a Premier event, placing high in the global Pro Tour points standings, or placing high in each region's Pro Tour points standings. The system confused fans, commentators, and players alike.

We may not know how qualification for the Capcom Cup will work in 2017, but we do know that the tour itself will look a bit different than it has in previous years.

Combo Breaker will presumably fill a gap left by Stunfest, a French gaming convention that that served as a Premier event on the Pro Tour in each of the last two years. Organizers of that event announced a "pause" for the convention late last year with plans to return in 2018.

The tour will also be without Cannes Winter Clash, the other French event that was part of the 2016 tour. Organizers of that event, which will take place during the last weekend in February, announced the change last week in a Reddit post. The event had served as the Pro Tour's season opener in both 2015 and 2016.

"Obviously with Cannes and Stunfest out there will need to be at least one French replacement event," Samad "Damascus" Abdessadki, a competitor and commentator who is involved in the organization of the Cannes Winter Clash, told Dot Esports. "[Capcom] can't leave France out of [the Capcom Pro Tour] when it's arguably the biggest community in Europe - and maybe [the] strongest."

France is the only European country that has sent two players to the Capcom Cup in each of the last two years. It is also home to Olivier "Luffy" Hay, the only player from outside of Asia to win a Street Fighter IV Evo title.

One event that will return is Final Round. On Wednesday, Capcom announced that Final Round will serve as the first Premier event of the season for the fourth straight year. That event, now in its 20th year, will take place in Atlanta during the second weekend of March.

Capcom will announce full details of the 2017 Pro Tour in late February.

Disclaimer: The author of this article has worked as part of the volunteer staff at Combo Breaker/Ultimate Fighting Game Tournament since 2014.

Jan 20 2017 - 9:49 pm

IEM Katowice’s CS:GO tournament is going to be awesome

The final two invites went out today, and the tournament's guaranteed to be exciting.
Sam Nordmark
Writer at @dotesports
Photo via Fragbite

The final two teams to be invited to one of the year's biggest events have been announced.

FaZe Clan and Danish soccer club FC Copenhagen's esports venture, North, will be attending IEM Katowice's Counter-Strike: Global Offensive finals from Mar. 1-5, ESL announced today. The teams, which showed impressive form towards the end of 2016 at multiple international LAN events, will be competing against some of the best teams in the world.

The two teams are also the last to receive invitations to the event, as four teams will be added after a series of online qualifiers. In total, three more European teams will be attending IEM Katowice, as well as one North American team. With an already-stacked ensemble of teams ready to attend, such as Brazil's SK Gaming, Polish hometown heroes Virtus Pro, and Denmark's top team Astralis, the four teams that will be advancing through the online qualifiers will be making an already-competitive event all the more fierce.

In October 2016, the current North roster, which was signed to Dignitas at the time, took home the $500,000 EPICENTER event in Moscow. Aside from being one of the biggest events of the year, it had all the top teams in the world in attendance. Since then, however, North has struggled to live up to the expectations placed upon them, and have recently fallen short at nearly all events they have attended since.

The opposite can be said about FaZe, since the team picked up former Astralis in-game leader Finn "Karrigan" Andersen. Since Karrigan's arrival, FaZe have had their best results since the team's inception, and have looked stronger at each event they have attended.

Taking place roughly one month after the ELEAGUE Major, which begins on Jan. 22, IEM Katowice will likely be the debut tournament of several new rosters—so make sure to keep an eye on what could be one of the biggest CS:GO events of the year.