Riot: Streaming restrictions on League of Legends pros were "not cool"
Riot Games Director of eSports Whalen Rozelle says the company will allow players under League of Legends Championship Series contracts to stream other games, reversing its previous policy.
"After reading all of your comments and having a LOT of internal debate over the last 24 hours, we’re going to be changing the LCS team requirement to something that more closely matches our intent," writes Rozelle in a post on Reddit. "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."
Last week, leaked contracts from players participating in Season 4 of the LCS revealed that Riot was forbidding them from streaming or advertising a long and rather confusing list of games. The list included the obvious competition, MOBAs like Valve's Dota 2 and Turbine's Infinite Crisis, but also more obscure games such as Sony's Fat Princess and a number of gambling websites.
A few days after the news came out, Rozelle tried to explain Riot's decision with a poor analogy. "You probably wouldn't see an NFL player promoting Arena Football or a Nike-sponsored player wearing Reebok on camera," he said. "Pro players are free to play whatever games they want—we’re simply asking them to keep in mind that, on-stream, they’re the face of competitive League of Legends."
Basically, LCS players were streaming themselves playing any number of other games while they were in queue for LoL matches. This is understandable, given that these queues can last a while, and it is more entertaining to watch them play World of Tanks than their idle desktops as they wait. According to Riot, however, some of them were being courted by competitors.
"There have been instances of other game studios trying to buy access to League fans by using (or trying to use) LCS teams/players to promote their competing games on stream," Whalen says. "The way we chose to deal with this was clearly an overreach...we realize that’s not cool."
The new contracts, supposedly (we haven't seen them yet), will allow LCS players to stream whichever games they want, but not accept sponsorship from other game companies to promote other titles. Riot wants to legitimize eSports, but at the same time position itself to profit most from that legitimization—it wants pro LoL players to stick to LoL. But the fewer options pro players have, the harder it is for them make a career out of it. This issue is far from over, and it's fascinating to watch the eSports business evolve as more and more money is at stake.