Tencent imposes new regulations on streamers in China

Chinese gaming giant Tencent has implemented a number of new rules to govern the conduct of streamers playing its games online. According to a report by Asian games market intelligence firm Niko Partners, the rules were prompted by heightened supervision of livestreamers by the Chinese government over the past year. 

The company listed 12 "values" that it expects its streamers to abide by, prohibiting the following:

  • Violation of China’s social values involving sensitive topics such as politics, ethnicity and religion
  • Promoting or publishing content that violates China’s social values, including but not limited to pornography, gambling, terrorism
  • Behavior that damages the Tencent Games brand directly or indirectly
  • Distributing false information to other users through any means
  • Engaging in vulgar or indecent information
  • Distributing or promoting game cheat software or virus software
  • Promoting excessive violence in game or in the real world
  • Infringing on the privacy of other users or revealing other users information without permission
  • Failure to abide by rules of the contract signed with third parties (streaming platforms)
  • Infringing the copyright of game makers or other content creators
  • Causing disputes or adverse social impact
  • Other actions that do not comply with current laws, ethics and game regulations

"We note that China’s regulators have been pushing for a healthier environment in both the games industry and live streaming industry more strongly recently," Niko Partners said. "A number of live streaming sites and streamers have been banned in the past for hosting questionable content. There have also been regulations that prohibit the streaming of games that are not approved for sale in China."

The rules are wide-ranging and in some instances, like "causing disputes or adverse social impact," extremely vague. However, Niko Partners analyst Daniel Ahmad confirmed on Twitter that they will only apply to Chinese streamers.

"There is a natural copyright relationship between gaming contents and live streaming platforms," Tencent said in a message posted to Chinese social media site Weibo (via The Esports Observer). "Tencent, as a gaming streaming platform leader and game publisher, has the responsibility to promote the standardization and authorization of streaming contents in the industry."

Streamers who fail to adhere to the guidelines may be barred from streaming Tencent games in the future, and there are potentially serious repercussions beyond that: There's no direct connection, but The Esports Observer also made note of a case involving 19-year-old Honor of Kings streamer Jiang “Haishi” Haitao, who signed a deal with streaming platform Douyu even though he was already under contract to Huya. Huya sued in November 2018, and the Guangzhou Intermediate People's Court hit the streamer with a ¥49 million ($7.2 million) fine.