Twitch.tv, the popular video game streaming service, has banned the playing of AO or Adults Only rated games. Essentially, the new policy is that if the game receives an AO rating from the ESRB, then it cannot be streamed on Twitch. The decision comes at an interesting time, as the highly controversial game Hatred comes out in just a few days. It would seem that Twitch wants to avoid getting caught up in the controversy surrounding the title, which was one of just a few games given an AO rating for just its violent content, and has decided to ban all AO games just to be safe.
“Our goal at Twitch is to create a safe, welcoming, inclusive community platform where everyone can feel comfortable and have fun,” reads the official blog post announcing the changes. “From time to time, we update our Rules of Conduct (RoC) in pursuit of this goal and to match emerging issues in the video game industry. Previously, we made game-specific decisions about which games would and would not be available for broadcast – sometimes due to overtly sexual content, sometimes due to gratuitous violence. This is unsustainable and unclear, generating only further confusion among Twitch broadcasters. We would like to make this policy as transparent as possible. Today, we’re updating the RoC with regard to Adult Only (AO) games. Simply put, AO games are not welcome on Twitch.”
Later on Twitch clarified the ruling, stating that Mature rated versions of otherwise AO rated games would be allowed, simply keeping the restriction to the specific version that was rated Adults Only. A lingering question is how will Twitch handle the release of unrated games, which can sometimes contain content worse than AO rated games. If the developer of Hatred were to release an unrated version of the game, for example, then would that one be allowed on Twitch? It is likely that this new policy will supplement the current strategy of banning specific titles if this becomes more of the norm.