Twitch bans streaming Adults-Only games prior to Hatred's launch [Update]

Twitch has announced they won't allow streamers to play Adults-Only games on its service just days before Hatred's release.

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Twitch has announced it will no longer allow users to stream Adults-Only-rated games on its platform.

In a rules of conduct update regarding adult-oriented games, Twitch says its users “should not broadcast” games rated Adults Only by the ESRB, although Mature versions of these games are allowed to be streamed. For example, the Mature versions of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy are allowed. Games that are rated 18+ by similar rating systems in other countries are acceptable.

This change comes on the eve of Hatred’s release, and is mentioned by name in the updated list of prohibited titles. It is an extremely violent game where its protagonist kills anyone and everyone, regardless if they’re good or bad. Hatred has caused quite a bit of controversy since its initial announcement, and now that Twitch is banning Adults Only games from being streamed, we could only guess it’s so Hatred’s influence can't be spread outside of those who are really interested in playing it.

We have reached out to Twitch to see if they have further comments regarding this change in policy, especially so close to Hatred's release.

[Update: A Twitch representative responded to us with the following statement: "The decision was made to bring more clarity to our Rules of Conduct. Generally, games that fall in the AO-rated spectrum have always been out of bounds on Twitch due to the standard language of both the RoC and ToS. Instead of dealing with this on a per-game basis, we wanted to make a very clear standard rule set."]

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  • reply
    May 28, 2015 9:25 AM

    Daniel Perez posted a new article, Twitch bans streaming Adults-Only games prior to Hatred's launch

    • reply
      May 28, 2015 9:34 AM

      I really dislike that you even mentioned Hatred in this article without any basis of connection. As a matter of fact, the only reason I clicked was to see if you had any solid connection. Of course, you do not.

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        May 28, 2015 9:40 AM

        It's one of only three Adults Only games mentioned by name.

        http://help.twitch.tv/customer/portal/articles/1992676-list-of-prohibited-games

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          May 28, 2015 10:19 AM

          Well, that should be specifically mentioned in the article, rather than "we could only guess."

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          May 28, 2015 10:22 AM

          there isn't even a link to that in the article. come on!

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            May 28, 2015 10:28 AM

            For a long time now, the Shacknews editorial policy seems to be to nearly never link to external sites relevant to the article. Their links nearly always go to other Shacknews articles. Drives me fucking insane and it's just plain bad journalism.

            This article is a textbook example. Two "Twitch" links in the article, each of which simply go to other Shacknews articles that are 100% irrelevant to this article. One of them links to an article about Twitch being available on Roku. Why is it linked there instead of the Twitch blog that this article is about?

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              May 28, 2015 10:31 AM

              I read the articles all the time. When Greg gets railed for Top 10s, I back Greg up. When whomever gets railed for whatever reason, I usually back them up.

              But this? This is the only time I've ever did a WTF? And yes, because I hovered on both twitch links and saw they pointed to shack articles that had nothing to do with this conversation.

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              May 28, 2015 10:34 AM

              As a matter of editorial policy, we link to other journalistic outlets when they're serving as sources. Official company announcements are a bit trickier. 90% of the time those come in the form of emails, and 9 of the other 10% of the time a company blog just copied and pasted an email that we didn't happen to get yet. We can't source in the former case, and there's really no reason to source in the latter case.

              If it was a scoop from GameSpot or Polygon or something, though, we make a point to always link to the source.

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                May 28, 2015 10:37 AM

                well, quote the email and explain why "we could only guess."

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                  May 28, 2015 10:38 AM

                  argh. just nuke my posts. again, ty for the update, but your phrasing was terribad.

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                May 28, 2015 10:38 AM

                none of that applies here, so was this just an oversight? shit happens, we're all human, i understand that. but i'm with OverloadUT, it does seem like Shacknews often doesn't provide a source link when i feel there definitely should be a source link. in this instance, the announcement was quoted directly in the article. if you quote something, with literal quotes, and say that "twitch said this", you need to source it.

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                  May 28, 2015 10:43 AM

                  It does actually apply, under the bit I said about company blogs. Basically, unless there's some particular reason to link to a company blog, we don't feel it's any different than getting a press announcement via e-mail. They serve the same purposes. The quoted portion was attributed to an announcement from the company, which is the same way we would attribute it if they had sent an e-mail with the same information.

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                    May 28, 2015 10:44 AM

                    why would that "some particular reason" not be "to source the quote that we're including in our article"?

                    i don't understand how you could have a verbatim quote, with quotes around it, and then not source it.

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                      May 28, 2015 10:51 AM

                      Because the quote doesn't belong to a person, it belongs to a company. If that company had taken the exact same words and put it in an e-mail and sent it to our news line, we would attribute it the same way. The medium of how they deliver that quote doesn't make it significantly different, as far as attribution goes. It's still "an announcement," which we cite so the readers know we're crediting a company for its official corporate-speak. Linking directly to said corporate-speak doesn't really add anything most of the time.

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                        May 28, 2015 10:52 AM

                        Linking directly to said corporate-speak doesn't really add anything most of the time.

                        you say this as if it's a fact, in a thread that wouldn't have existed if a link had been provided. i don't agree at all, i guess we'll leave it at that. i would probably be best served by getting my gaming news at sites that always provide source links

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                          May 28, 2015 10:57 AM

                          I'm not so sure the thread wouldn't exist. As you pointed out below, the announcement itself didn't mention it, the help file did. That means linking to the announcement wouldn't have satisfied those looking for a direct mention from Twitch itself.

                          (And again, I maintain that the conclusion is valid with or without the help file link, and that putting announcements into context is part of our jobs. If you want links in order to see how our context compares to the official corporate lines, I can understand that, of course.)

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                            May 28, 2015 11:00 AM

                            Right, linking the announcement would not have, because that's not the source of the "they listed Hatred by name" claim. The help file is. You make a claim, you back it up with a source. This seems pretty straightforward to me.

                            If you want links in order to see how our context compares to the official corporate lines

                            That's exactly what I want! I make a point to check sources, not just in gaming news but any kind of news. You always have to ask yourself where the information is coming from, and if you can trust that source. Having the source link means I can tell which parts of the article are interpretation and which are from the source.

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                              May 28, 2015 11:04 AM

                              We didn't make that claim. We never said in the original story that Twitch explicitly mentioned Hatred, so we weren't making a claim without backing it up with the source. Instead, we said that the move was likely a preemptive move because of Hatred, which we have no source on. That's our own conclusion given outside information, like general knowledge of Hatred's imminent release.

                              The fact that Twitch explicitly mentioned Hatred does lend credence to that conclusion, but it doesn't single-handedly prove it. We had reached the conclusion before we saw it, in fact, which indicates that it's fair and valid with or without that supporting document.

                              As for links to company blogs, I understand that desire and we'll take it into consideration.

                              • reply
                                May 28, 2015 11:11 AM

                                I can only see the updated story but I'll take your word that the part about mentioning Hatred by name wasn't in the original story. You're probably right, we still would've had this thread due to that unsupported claim. That.... doesn't really convince me that sources aren't necessary. That kinda makes me even more sure that you should back up your claims with sources rather than taking a lot of liberty with contextual interpretation. If a claim can't be backed up with any sources, then why is it in a news article?

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                                  May 28, 2015 11:16 AM

                                  Because as journalists, sometimes we draw conclusions based on surrounding information. In this case, Hatred's release is imminent, and it's (ostensibly) AO, so the conclusion is obvious. We framed it as a possibility and reached out to the company for comment. If we only made points backed up directly by the PR, we'd just be regurgitating mouthpieces.

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                                    May 28, 2015 11:24 AM

                                    The problem here is that you are not empowering your users to form their own opinions. You SHOULD state your conclusions and interpretations on the subject, I don't think anyone here disagrees with that. But then you should show us (in the form of a link) the source material that you used to make that conclusion. That allows the reader to read the original and see if they agree or disagree.

                                    By not providing that, you are asserting that your interpretation is the only one that matters and that the reader is too stupid to attempt to form their own.

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                                      May 28, 2015 11:45 AM

                                      In this case, our conclusion wasn't based on anything within the announcement. It was more about the timing of the announcement.

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                    May 28, 2015 11:02 AM

                    Well your feeling is wrong and irresponsible. If you're telling me that the company announced something, and that announcement is on their blog, then you should link to that blog post so I can see the announcement. I can't imagine a journalist actually disagreeing with that, but here you are.

                    I mean, I'm truly trying to understand your viewpoint here but I just can't understand it.

                    The only reason I see for doing it this way is that it makes the reader stay on your website, and if I want to link this announcement to a friend, I am more likely to link your article than the first-party announcement. It's for clicks.

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                      May 28, 2015 11:14 AM

                      It really has more to do with servicing our readers. I've seen some sites copy and paste the entire press release underneath their own coverage. I can understand why, and I think there's some value in it, but it's also very literally passing along the corporate line. Whether you mean to or not, when you do that, you're providing all the buzzwords and bullshit that tends to come in PR. You can try to temper that with your own skepticism, but it's still there.

                      Our job is to contextualize. We provide the actual information, cut out the buzzwords, and add our own conclusions. If you don't trust us to do that properly, or if you think we may be leaving some information out, that's understandable. I hope we gain your trust.

                      In this case, we reached a fairly obvious conclusion before we had seen the help file, wrote up the story, and in doing so drew a conclusion that was both not contained in the announcement, and not really dependent on the help file anyway. Linking to the announcement wouldn't have prevented this thread from blowing up, and I don't see any information in the announcement that we didn't provide as well.

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                        May 28, 2015 11:16 AM

                        Neither OverloadUT nor I are suggesting that you shouldn't add your own conclusions. Just add a link to the source so we can verify it for ourselves. That's all.

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                          May 28, 2015 11:18 AM

                          But again, the announcement link that you're requesting wouldn't be verification of our conclusion, in this case. It would verify that the change is actually happening, but that's all. If you don't trust us on matters that are that mundane, I'm not sure why you would read our coverage in the first place.

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                            May 28, 2015 11:24 AM

                            Right, because, again, the announcement wasn't the source of the conclusion about Hatred. The help page and the journalist's contextual interpretation was, so if you want to provide a source for that conclusion, the help page is the link you'd want to provide (since contextual interpretation isn't something you can source, but the help page is). The source goes with the claim. If there are no sources at all, and the conclusion is based entirely on contextual interpretation, then I'd like to know that, too. Without any sources at all, the only thing I can conclude is that the entire piece is speculation and interpretation.

                            I don't know how to explain this any better. Maybe I am bad at explaining things. If you have a source that you can link, I'd like to have that link rather than have it withheld because you don't feel it provides any additional information. I'd like to make that determination myself. Has nothing to do with whether I trust you.

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                              May 28, 2015 11:46 AM

                              But like I said, we reached that conclusion (and Daniel started writing his story) before Ozzie found that help link. So it really wasn't the source. The source would imply we saw it and then drew conclusions. Instead, we drew conclusions based on the announcement's timing, and then a piece of information came along that happened to help support it.

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                            May 28, 2015 11:25 AM

                            Sometimes the original source has additional information that is interesting and broadly relevant but tangential to the main part of news post.

                            As an example in this specific instance, it's interesting that Second Life is explicitly called out as being disallowed. Second Life certainly has a lot of objectionable content, but last I looked at it (which was admittedly quite a while ago), there was also a good bit of potentially interesting content that isn't objectionable.

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                        May 28, 2015 11:21 AM

                        Your entire first half here is a strawman. I never said you should copy and paste a press release in your article. I agree with your conclusions on that.

                        I am saying you should link to the press release or blog post or whatever it is, to show your source for the information. That does not fly contrary to anything you said here.

                        "I don't see any information in the announcement that we didn't provide as well" - this is completely irrelevant. I trust you to provide a summary of the info, and I trust you to, when appropriate, give an opinion on the subject. But I SHOULD be able to see the source to read the from-the-horses-mouth version of the announcement without having to hit google and search for it myself! You are preventing me from being able to form my own opinion on the subject by ONLY allowing me to see your interpretation. That's irresponsible.

                        This is not the first time I've had to do that: I read a shacknews article and then I have to literally go to google and search for the story to find any other site's article about it which will actually have relevant links.

                        And it's not just for announcements like this. I've even seen you guys say something is on sale on Steam with no link to Steam at all. Again, I have to open a new browser tab and search for the game. It's a terrible user experience.

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                          May 28, 2015 12:02 PM

                          You're right that my first point was unclear. I wasn't trying to suggest you said that, I was just using it as an illustration of the different ways sites have dealt with attributing press releases and other corporate-speak.

                          (At the same time, you're saying we should link to the press release, and that you should see it from the horse's mouth, and I'm not sure how we could accomplish that in the case of emailed press releases without doing the copy-and-paste thing.)

                          The idea isn't to keep you from forming your own opinion. You're free to do that. I'd posit that people form their own opinions in response to our work all the time, whether they saw the press release or not. At the same time, our obligation is to deliver our voice, not a company's. If you're interested in that voice to compare and contrast, I understand, and as I said above, we'll take it into consideration. But I don't think it's irresponsible journalistically to contextualize without passing along the corporate-speak, especially seeing as more established media like newspapers do it all the time.

                          You're right about Steam sales, though. We should absolutely be linking to sites in stories like that, because in that case it's undeniably valuable to the reader. I'll shake my fist at the staff.

                      • reply
                        May 28, 2015 11:47 AM

                        Steve. Always cite your sources. That's journalism 101. I don't understand why you're bothering to defend a weak stance.

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                          May 28, 2015 12:05 PM

                          Yeah that seems odd. Hell you are drilled that in school because if you directly quote something you better source it. Otherwise how can I know if the source actually said that or made it up?

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                          May 28, 2015 12:07 PM

                          We did cite it. We said Twitch made an announcement. Anytime Twitch sends us a press release via email, we cite it the same way. The medium here is different, but the source is the same.

                          The rub here seems to be that people want to see the original announcement, which I understand. At the same time, I don't see those demands when we post from an emailed press release, and I'm not seeing a significant difference between the two.

                          Consistency would demand that if citation of a corporate-speak announcement only counts if people can see it in its original corporate-speak, we should be posting the press releases in full, verbatim, on the site. I don't think anyone is asking for that, so I'm pointing out that the two scenarios are the same.

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                        May 29, 2015 1:47 AM

                        You're right SporkyReeve. It's what journalists do. Filter the PR bullshit from company statements and write an easy to understand article. I really don't see why you should add the original press release or a link to a statement.

                    • reply
                      May 29, 2015 12:58 AM

                      damn right you are padwan

        • reply
          May 28, 2015 10:41 AM

          that's weird because Hatred is unrated (it costs money and time to send a game for review) - they only put AO on the box in a plea for attention

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            May 28, 2015 10:44 AM

            Interesting wrinkle! I mean, their guess is probably accurate, but still.

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              May 28, 2015 10:46 AM

              nice jab. and I do mean that sincerely. it made me laugh at myself.

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                May 28, 2015 10:49 AM

                I didn't mean that as a jab, ha ha. I didn't even catch how it could be one until I saw your reply.

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            May 28, 2015 10:47 AM

            I don't think they *can* put AO on the box without dealing with the ESRB, since those ratings logos are owned by the ESRB.

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              May 28, 2015 11:05 AM

              That's correct. They can make up their own "Adults Only" rating and badge so long as it's clearly different than the ESRB's.

              As a side note I believe that's how the NC-17 rating was born in the MPAA. They used to use "X" rating, but the porn industry adopted that label as a badge and started using it even when they weren't MPAA rating. So the MPAA had to make a different "adults only" rating that actually meant something.

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                May 28, 2015 1:04 PM

                Is that why? I always wondered where the "XXX" thing came from when as a kid, I'd heard that adults-only movies were already rated X.

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        May 28, 2015 10:02 AM

        agree with this.

        there's a CHANCE the game is the reason they finally had the discussion but otherwise it's just sensationalism.

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          May 28, 2015 10:09 AM

          I disagree-there IS a basis of connection. It sounds like Hatred is mentioned because of the timing of this move by Twitch. Makes sense to me.

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            May 28, 2015 10:24 AM

            with the way the article is written, it's a strawman. Daniel should add the link Ozzie put in and change, "We could only guess" to "look here it is banned <href=link>"

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              May 28, 2015 10:30 AM

              To be clear, the "we could only guess" line still applies. The help file explicitly mentions it by name, but it's not as if it says the move was any kind of preemptive step against it in particular. That's why Daniel framed it as our conclusions, rather than part of the announcement proper, and reached out for comment. Removing that line, even with a link to the help file, would imply that we know for certain, and we don't.

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              May 28, 2015 10:45 AM

              'we could only guess it’s so Hatred’s influence can be spread outside of those who are really interested in playing it'
              Question: shouldn't it say "...so Hatred's influence canNOT be spread"? I read that sentence 3times and don't understand it as it is.
              As to your comment, it seems to me that the 'we guess' line is saying 'we guess this is why Hatred is banned', but yes, it might be better to say 'It's banned (see link). We guess it's banned for this reason.' But that's a nitpicky type of issue imo.

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        May 28, 2015 10:09 AM

        As Ozzie mentioned, Twitch's own announcement mentions it by name. The timing is also a factor, since we're so close to launch. We actually just saw review code go out today, in fact. At the same time, Daniel was careful not to pose the connection as a certainty, and he reached out for comment.

        Sometimes it's our job to draw conclusions and put stories into a contextual framework that isn't necessarily explicitly mentioned in an announcement. We have to do it responsibly, obviously, but I think Daniel did that here.

        • reply
          May 28, 2015 10:11 AM

          i tried to look at the original announcement but you guys don't actually link it. both of the "twitch" links in this article are links to random, seemingly unrelated twitch articles

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          May 28, 2015 10:21 AM

          As ozzie and twitch mention... the article just says, "as we could only guess."

          Source the shit, especially when there is a valid source

          • reply
            May 28, 2015 10:28 AM

            To be honest, I think the conclusion is valid with or without that source. It was top-of-mind thanks to the review copy, and we discussed it in our newsroom before Ozzie ever found or mentioned the help file. I've updated the story to include the link, but I don't think that contextual reading was out-of-line without it.

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              May 28, 2015 10:31 AM

              Seeing as practically everyone/where else has come to the same conclusion, it's not a ridiculous one.

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              May 28, 2015 10:33 AM

              oh, come on. that original print was bad. ty for fixing it. sorry for being so worked up, but I know y'all are good writers and that just seemed out of character from what I see from y'all.

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                May 28, 2015 10:38 AM

                Thanks for the kind words. I think we'll just have to agree to disagree on this one. I made the change not because the original was bad our out-of-line in my view, but because there wasn't really any reason not to other than sheer stubbornness.

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                  May 28, 2015 10:43 AM

                  meh, I insulted you. thanks for letting that go. you take pride in what you do and it sucks when some rando on the internet points out shit. I've fought for you specifically in threads/articles when people shit on you. It is unusual for me to gripe about stuff like this, so trust that when I do, I might have a point.

                  However, next time, I will save that point for email or SM.

    • reply
      May 28, 2015 10:26 AM

      mods, feel free to nuke my post once Daniel fixes.

    • reply
      May 28, 2015 10:45 AM

      Twitch always had a ban on such stuff though. The announcement yesterday was just them finally making it so what games are and are not broadcastable more clear. Before it was so vague that some people were unsure whether or not they could actually stream games from The Witcher series because of the sex scenes/nudity.

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      May 28, 2015 11:45 AM

      Not taking any position about the article, but I'd like to say it's refreshing that the editor is willing to openly discuss with us

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        May 28, 2015 11:57 AM

        Definitely agreed

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        May 28, 2015 12:28 PM

        Always happy to chat. When I took the job I offered a sort of AMA-style thread and it didn't really seem like anybody took me up on it. I was expecting all kinds of hard questions!

    • reply
      May 28, 2015 11:59 AM

      Here's the most interesting part that I see being argued in the Twitch blog: their new policy says that they are ONLY banning games rated AO by the ESRB.

      http://blog.twitch.tv/2015/05/rules-of-conduct-update-adult-oriented-games/

      HOWEVER, Hatred is not rated by the ESRB. It's not on this page, meaning it does not have an official rating: http://help.twitch.tv/customer/portal/articles/1992676-list-of-prohibited-games

      Twitch is going out of their way to say that the ESRB is the only rating body that they are acknowledging, so PEGI, etc ratings do not matter at all. In this new Help article they even put Hatred cited as a specific game that has an AO rating even though it does not: http://help.twitch.tv/customer/portal/articles/1992676-list-of-prohibited-games

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        May 28, 2015 11:59 AM

        Er, second link was supposed to be this official ESRB page: http://www.esrb.org/ratings/search.jsp?rating=AO&ratingsCriteria=AO

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        May 28, 2015 12:05 PM

        i think the truth is something i'm sure you already know: twitch is wildly inconsistent on enforcement of any of their guidelines, and none of the rules of conduct are stated with any sort of precision. this change is not an update to their legal terms of service, but rather just an update to their "we can ban you for any reason, but here is a partial list of things that will probably get you banned" list which is hand-wavy to the extreme. catching them on this "gotcha" doesn't really matter at all

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          May 28, 2015 12:09 PM

          Yeah, that makes sense. It's just weird that they're coming out of the gate hard with the "AO rating from the ESRB, specifically, is all that matters" line, specifically citing Hatred which doesn't have that rating. Oh well they'll probably do a second edit eventually, as many people are pointing this out.

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            May 28, 2015 1:06 PM

            My guess is that someone on their staff said "It's got an AO rating, maybe we could ban it that way" and then no one did any other research.

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        May 28, 2015 1:18 PM

        There's nothing inconsistent in the links you provided, unless you didn't meant to post the same link twice. Certain games are banned due to TOS. Other games are banned due to their ESRB rating.

        The ESRB has, in fact, rated Hatred as Adults-Only: http://www.polygon.com/2015/1/16/7557639/hatred-esrb-ao-rating

        The AO rating is clearly visible here, as well: http://store.steampowered.com/app/341940/

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          May 28, 2015 1:22 PM

          My immediate reply clarified that the second link was meant to be the ESRB link. That was the link from Twitch itself. However, it looks like the ESRB's official listing is out of date as it doesn't have Hatred yet - you're right that the Steam page clearly shows an official ESRB badge so I assume that's correct.

          So never mind then! The ESRB should update their shit!!

          • reply
            May 28, 2015 1:25 PM

            I'm pretty sure they only have games which are released on the ESRB page.

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              May 28, 2015 1:31 PM

              Yeah that could be. They risk leaking info if they put up the rating too early, but on the other hand preorders are a huge part of video game marketing and so the rating should be verifiable on their website once the game is officially for sale with the rating. No perfect option I suppose

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              May 28, 2015 8:53 PM

              Just did a quick search on ESRB.
              Arkham Knight is up on their site, and that's not out for a month.

    • reply
      May 28, 2015 12:55 PM

      When Shack staff, a game developer and a mod get into a deep thread, my LAMP lights up like a Christmas tree.

      http://imgur.com/cK06aE2

    • reply
      May 28, 2015 1:03 PM

      Not related to the post or story, but the whole outrage angle over this game is kind of sad and pathetic.

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