If you’d said a decade ago that there would be not only gamers like Fatal1ty making the big bucks by being a professional at it, but that teams of people would be able to do it for a living too – some pulling in as much as a million a year – people would have called you crazy. But that’s the situation we’re in today, with LoL players, DotA players, Starcraft players, they’re all making nice wages, some of it, simply by being a registered pro team. A lot of it though comes from streaming, but that might be about to change.
League of Legends developer, Riot Games, has angered fans of the game by including a new clause in its terms and conditions for pro-gamers, banning them from streaming any rival games. That means that if you’re one of the ranked and registered LoL pro teams, competing on the world championship circuit, you can’t stream any of the following in your down time: Heroes of Newerth, DotA, DotA 2, Smite, Infinite Crisis alongside a huge list of non-MOBA games too, like: Hearthstone, World of Warcraft, Rise of Immortals, Dawngate, Sins of a Dark Age, Awesomenauts, Land of Chaos Online, Pokerstars, Warlocks, World of Tanks and so many more.
Essentially, Riot is banning the streaming of anything from Blizzard, most gambling sites, anything that could remotely be considered a MOBA – and they aren’t allowed to endorse tobacco, pornography, firearms or any over-the-counter drugs either.
Despite fans and pros being somewhat annoyed at this change in terms though, Riot is sticking to its guns. Esports director at the company, Whalen Rozelle, said via a Reddit post: “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.”
He went on to suggest that while pro-gamers have previously only had to worry about their own “personal brands,” now they’re contracted professionals linked with a legitimate sports league; they represent the sport itself. As he sees it, playing another game is the same as playing a different sport. He emphasised that Riot didn’t want to stop them playing other games, it just wants them to not stream it, highlighting that you wouldn’t see a NFL player promoting Arena Football.
In typical Reddit fashion though, commenters quickly pointed out that indeed the NFL does occasionally promote Arena Football and that some players have been known to play professional baseball and football within days of one another, which is far more inter-sports promoting than streaming another game to fans in your down time.
Others however argued that since Riot actively promotes its pro streamers, it is understandable that it wouldn’t want to send players somewhere where they can see what is essentially promotion for a rival game.
KitGuru Says: What do you guys think? It seems to me that this is a little unfair of Riot, since these pro gamers build their own brands via streaming as much as they are part of the pro-LoL community. As much as Riot likes to talk about esports growing, here it seems more like its simply trying to grow League of Legends. It’s anti-competitive. If this was a big company merger, the European Commission would be doing an investigation.[Cheers Eurogamer]