Twitch’s new feature that allows streamers to choose to go live only to their subscribers is an infringement of the Terms of Service of Riot Games, Blizzard Entertainment, Steam, and several other game companies.
If streamers go live exclusively to subscribers while playing Overwatch, League of Legends, CS:GO, and other games from these companies or platforms, they’ll be liable to having their game accounts punished.
On Twitch, the term “subscriber” is used for people who pay a fee to a creator so they can support them and have small privileges on that creator’s channel.
In Riot’s legal page, the company says that anyone is allowed to do gameplay streaming of its games and accept donations “so long as non-subscribers can still watch the games concurrently.” Valve says that “you can’t charge users to view or access your videos,” while Blizzard writes that video creators can’t “force a viewer to pay a ‘fee’ to be able to view your Production(s).”
Other game companies like Epic Games, Nintendo, and Bethesda have also forbidden creators from selling content they’ve created or restricting fans’ access to it through a paywall like Twitch’s sub-only mode.
Such a rule from game companies will limit how Twitch creators will use their sub-only streams. Despite the platform having several categories that include non-gaming content, such as IRL and Just Chatting, gameplay streamers will probably be forbidden from playing live during these exclusive broadcasts.
Twitch’s Terms of Service say that creators are subject to the policies of companies that own the content they’re streaming. If someone plays a game from these developers live in a sub-only Twitch stream, the platform could choose to punish them.
Putting gameplay content behind a paywall is using another company’s intellectual property for direct profit, which is an illegal use of a brand. That’s also different from the conditional profit of running ads or receiving donations. Twitch creators can expect the same rules to apply for other games that they play.
Twitch has yet to provide a statement about the rules of game streaming in sub-only mode.