Twitch Imposes New Policy Against Streaming AO-Rated Video Games

on May 28, 2015 11:33 AM

Over the past few years, the impact of video game livestreaming has only grown thanks to the efforts of companies such as Twitch and YouTube, though a new blog post on the conduct rules of Twitch is implementing a slightly more restrictive policy on what can and can’t be streamed.

A new post on Twitch’s official blog announced that the company is implementing a new ban on games with an “AO” (Adults-Only”) rating by the ESRB, indicating that any titles with that rating through the ESRB are not allowed to be broadcast or streamed through Twitch’s services.

In Twitch’s statement on the blog post, the company is implementing the ban to provide “a safe, welcoming, inclusive community platform where everyone can feel comfortable and have fun,” with the company detailing:

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. Please refer to the ESRB’s Ratings Guide and list of Adults Only games for more information.

While the ESRB ratings apply exclusively to US titles, our policy extends to versions of these games in all territories. Generally, if the US version is rated for Adults Only (18+) or has an equivalent rating in your territory, you should not broadcast that game on Twitch.

In a later edit on the post, the company provided further clarification on its ban regarding AO-rated/oriented games:

If a game’s US version is rated Adults Only by the ESRB, you should not broadcast that game on Twitch. However, ESRB rated Mature versions of Adults Only titles are permitted for streaming, such as Mature versions of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy.

Games rated 18+ by other rating systems are fine to stream, so long as they are not rated AO by the ESRB, and they don’t violate the standard language of our RoC and ToS.

Though the ban may come as a surprise to some, the general pool of games given the AO rating by the ESRB currently only stands at 26 titles according to its website, though the effects of the ban against upcoming titles with the rating remain to the seen.

 /  Features Editor
Ryan is the Features Editor at DualShockers, with over five years' experience in the world of video games culture and writing. He holds a BA in English & Cinema from Binghamton University, and lives in New York City.