Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Counterpoint on LOL Streaming

Riot has issued the probably inevitable walk-back of their controversial streaming policy.  Contracted professional players will now be allowed to stream whatever games they want so long as they are not paid by competing studios to do so. 

With the benefit of additional information, I can see a bit more of Riot's side of this issue since my post from last week.  Apparently this happened in large part because Blizzard gave Hearthstone beta keys to high-rating Twitch streamers, which just so happened to include a large number of League of Legends pros.  There is some question of whether Blizzard also threw in extra keys for the streamers to give away, resulting in even more screen time spent on Blizzard's upcoming product.

I still think the initial policy was an over-reach, compounded by a denial that it was a problem even though they would be forced to concede the obvious a day later.  I still think the real impact on the policy would have been on regular players watching the streams who had no say in the matter, rather than on the paid pros who are compensated for their time.  That said, Riot's point makes some sense as well.

We as a society have not caught up to the reality that employees' off-hours social media may not always say what employers want it to say.  Personally, I made a decision when I finished school that henceforth I would only blog about my MMO hobby - I strongly doubt that I will ever work in anything related to MMO's.  Many folks don't draw such a fine line, and I don't fault them.  However, when you are posting about something directly related to your employment - and indeed when you were employed in part BECAUSE of your online social presence - I don't think your employer is wrong to ask at least some questions in a situation where it looks like you are being sponsored by a competitor.  Raffling off beta keys isn't the same as getting a sack of money, but it could still benefit your stream's revenue and viewership numbers.   

Interesting times we live in, I suppose. 

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