Twitch announced earlier today on their blog an update to their rules of conduct regarding Twitch related services. The changes made have to do with games specifically meeting the ESRB’s AO (adult only rating) and effectively bans the streaming of those games on the service. On the blog, Twitch indicates that “Today, we’re updating the RoC with regard to Adult Only (AO) games. Simply put, AO games are not welcome on Twitch. Please refer to the ESRB’s Ratings Guide and list of Adults Only games for more information.” In regards to regions that don’t use the United States based ESRB service, Twitch indicates that the policy extends to gamers in all territories, and that if the game is rated in the US region as Adult Only, you should not be streaming it.
The last incident regarding games with adult content where streaming policies had to be clarified involved Senran Kagura: Estival Versus, which initially had streams taken down. It was later clarified that the game was allowed to be streamed under certain conditions. Basically, the stream could be taken down if “sexually explicit” content was shown. This decision was made despite no sex scenes being present in the game or full nudity of any sort, while other games like Dragon Age: Inquisition being allowed despite having those.
The timing on this announcement seems relevant as the controversial game Hatred is scheduled to release on Steam on June 1st. The game has gotten an Adults Only rating from the ESRB, even though the game has not been rated by the PEGI rating system as of yet. The game has been on a metaphorical roller coaster since it first was announced, with it being temporarily banned from Steam GreenLight, as well as not being carried by GOG.
However, there could be unforeseen consequences from this move, as the different rating systems and criteria in the different countries may cause problems for the service. And that’s for games that have ratings, as some games don’t go through the rating service. The blog page has a backlash from Twitch users regarding the decision, in particular with the timing of the announcement and calls of censorship.
Do you believe that Twitch’s new policy is specifically in response to the release of Hatred, and do you think that Twitch will be taking future steps to protect their community from adult-flavored content? Could hitbox.tv, an equivalent service, see an increase in traffic because of this, or will the decision pass without anyone being none the wiser?