UPDATE: Riot has reversed their decision in response to player and fan outrage. Their Director of Esports, Whalen Rozelle, released the following statement: “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.” It’s basically a compromise: rival games are locked out of using LCS players to advertise to LoL players (something Riot claims is a thing), but pro players are still allowed to stream what they want. More over on IGN.
Riot has invoked the ire of its top players and fans of pro streamers alike with a restrictive contract that prevents participants in their League of Legends Championship Series from streaming any of Riot’s direct and indirect competitors’ games… ever.
The contract, recently leaked to onGamers, stipulates that teams and their players registering for the series may not stream or advertise Riot’s competitors’ products. The offending items are contained in a list that covers obvious titles such as Dota 2 and Heroes of Newerth, as well as more bizarre items such as Fat Princess and almost the entire Blizzard catalogue (though, mercifully, Blackthorne remains exempt.). Promotion of gambling sites, drugs, weapons, pornography and tobacco products are also included in the list for more obvious reasons.
According to Riot’s Director of Esports, Whalen Rozelle, in a Reddit thread on the topic, “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.”
Gaming companies are increasingly testing the limits on how and when gamer’s can stream or produce video content for their games – most notably in recent months, Nintendo’s claim on Let’s Play videos on YouTube and the restrictions placed on Xbox One owners uploaded content.