Los Angeles Business Journal

Riot Bars Pro Gamers From Other Titles

By Tom Dotan Friday, December 6, 2013

Riot Games has unveiled new tournament rules for the next season of its hit computer game “League of Legends,” and some aren’t sitting too well with the community.

Heading into its fourth season, “League of Legends” players will be barred from broadcasting themselves playing any other games. Professional gamers typically make money by streaming their gameplay through sites such as YouTube or Twitch, and top players can command audiences in the millions and make six-figure incomes through sponsorships and endorsements.

Under the new contract, Riot’s professional players will not be allowed to stream their gameplay of other Massive Multiplayer Online Games such as “Defense of the Ancients 2” and “World of Warcraft.”

News of the more restrictive rules was first reported on the gaming blog OnGamers and later confirmed by the Riot’s director of eSports, Whalen Rozelle.

As Rozelle explained on the message board Reddit, the rule is an effort to protect the company’s brand. To Riot, having a professional “League of Legends” player stream a competing game would be no different than, “an NFL player promoting Arena Football or a Nike-sponsored player wearing Reebok on camera.”

He did stress that “League of Legends” players were free to play these games privately. But that news didn’t placate scores of players and fans online who commented in droves that the restriction is draconian and unfair.

Professional gaming has grown considerably in the past few years, especially “League of Legends,” on which Riot has spent millions underwriting an official tournament league. The 2013 championship tournament was held in the Staples Center with an online audience that was estimated in the tens of millions.