When you become a professional athlete, especially elite players like LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, there are a tonne of stipulations that prevent you from doing certain things in your spare time. Playing outside sports tends to be one of them, due to the possibility of injury. For League of Legends streamers (some of which are considered professional athletes), it appears there will be streaming stipulations outside of LCS play.
According to onGamers, professional streamers participating in the League of Legends Season 4 LCS play cannot stream competing products and games during the duration of the season. Some of these games include, but are not limited to; Dota 2, Diablo games, Starcraft games, Hearthstone games, World of Warcraft games, Solstice Arena, Warhammer Online and a bunch of other games that may or may not be within the realm of a MOBA.
Some will say this is not fair, that Riot Games should not have control over their athletes in such a way. However, non-compete clauses are in the contracts of many high-pay agreements. Streamers and teams are paid in excess of $100,000 USD to play a specific type of game for a company, all while having the opportunity to earn much more through pots and sponsorships. League of Legends streams can vary anywhere from 75-125,000 concurrent viewers a night; it is a high stakes industry with millions in advertising put in. Playing the competition’s game is not good for business when so much money is changing hands.
There are even cries from those not participating in this season saying they were removed from the featured streamers list because they streamed competitors’ games. Even if you don’t participate in the professional competition, when you are featured as a LoL streamer the expectation is that you shouldn’t be airing shows featuring the opposition’s games, either. Especially as a monumental figure within the game’s community. They have the right to pull from the featured streamers list if you’re not streaming their featured game.
I agree that there is a certain capitalist angle to the contract agreement, that LCS players are being controlled in what they can do outside of competitive matches. However, when you play video games as a living (some making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year), streaming becomes a performance. You don’t see Ronald McDonald advertising the Burger King Whopper in TV commercials, do you? There is nothing preventing these professional streamers from playing these games in their spare time. It’s just when playing is used for commercial benefit for an audience that the problem arises.
It is up to the League of Legends streamers whether or not they want to sign these agreements. If they truly want to make a change or let Riot Games know their anguish, perhaps they should take their talents elsewhere. Create a petition anonymously, do some sort of community gathering to let them know their thoughts. Or, perhaps, just not broadcast certain competitions’ games and continue to get paid money to play video games. All of these are rather legitimate options in their own right.