Monday, April 27, 2015

Is EVE Twitch Streamers And Illicit RMT A Thing?

Apparently, the next controversy-to-be in EVE Online is Twitch streamers conducting real money trading. What?! Since watching illicit RMT activity in EVE is a staple of the blog, I thought I'd take a quick look at the subject.

First, what is real money trading? I define the term as the exchange of the exchange of virtual goods, including in-game currency, and services for real world currency. My definition is all-inclusive, which is why I'll often use the terms "secondary RMT market" or "illicit RMT" when referring to real money trading that violates the rules of a game publisher. Most people who use the acronym without such qualifiers are referring to illicit RMT.

Next, does making real life money from streaming EVE Online on Twitch violate any prohibitions on conducting RMT? The answer is no. CCP's "Monetization Of Videos Policy" page states:
"We are pleased to formally announce that YES, you are welcome to upload your game-related videos so long as the videos are freely available to everyone (i.e., there is no charge, subscription, or 'premium access' fee required to view them). Additionally, you may monetize your videos by way of YouTube’s 'partner program', Google’s Adsense program, or any similar advertising revenue sharing model, provided the third-party advertisements do not interfere with a viewer’s access to the video. You may not, however, use any EVE or DUST 514 videos to advertise products you are selling unless you are an authorized CCP distributor (and even then, you may only sell authorized CCP products)."
As Twitch's subscription feature qualifies as a "similar advertising revenue sharing model" to YouTube's, it qualifies.  But, if I read the Twitch policy correctly, Twitch is a little more restrictive as to who can monetize their content than YouTube. The standards for Twitch partners to qualify to put the subscription button on their channel are:

  • 500+ average concurrent viewers (sustained viewership, not a one-time peak)
  • 5 million non-promotional viewer minutes per month
  • Regular schedule of at least 3 broadcasts per week on average
  • Content that closely follows our Terms of Service and DMCA Guidelines -- community standing is of paramount importance to our Partnership Team when conducting candidate evaluations

Okay, so an incentive exists for a form of RMT to occur. A streamer who charges $4.99/month can earn nearly $5000/month or $60,000/year with 1000 subscriptions. A streamer can conduct givaways in order to attract enough viewers to meet the Twitch guidelines and qualify to become a Twitch partner. While a direct quid pro quo (i.e. giving out 200 million ISK for each subscription) clearly violates the EVE Online EULA, what about subscriber-only drawings?

Since the EVE community doesn't have that many Twitch streamers who are Twitch partners, let's look at TMC. None of TMC's streaming content on either Twitch or YouTube is behind a paywall, so they clearly follow CCP's stated video monetization policy. The only time they come close to the edge is when they give out in-game items (i.e. ships) in subscriber-only giveaways. But even then, non-subscribers are not shut out of winning ships as, at least on the Meta show, they also have giveaways that do not require paying money to TMC during the same stream.

I am not going to pretend I know all of the ins-and-outs of CCP's policy concerning Twitch streaming. Considering that the policy page directs streamers to contact CCP's legal department directly with questions suggests that a lot of policies exist that the general public do not know about. However, I will suggest that people streaming EVE on Twitch is good for CCP. Why? Because that's free advertising for the game.

During the uproar about Nintendo's partner program at the beginning of 2015, YouTuber boogie2988 explained the benefits that content creators such as Twitch streamers and YouTubers bring to game publishers.

One of the reasons that I endorsed Chance Ravinne's candidacy for CSM 10 was that I was unsure of CCP's policy concerning YouTube and Twitch and wanted someone with some experience in that field available to provide input into any policies CCP may put into place over the coming year. However, I do not endorse CCP paying YouTubers to play their games.

So, I do not think that players are using Twitch as a medium to conduct illicit RMT. Since, to my knowledge, the closest any have come is giving away in-game items in contests or drawings, Twitch streamers are possibly engaged in using virtual goods and currency to create real life money through means other than direct trading. But, at least in the case of EVE, CCP doesn't seem to have a problem with that, which removes the tag "illicit RMT" from that activity.


  1. I have mailed CCP on this issue. Here's to getting a reply

  2. Wait wait wait... If you earn $ from twitch, then give away prizes in form of in-game awards (while also giving subscribers better rewards), but you mask it as a lottery... still makes rmt just in a more clever way.

    $ is earned then is exchanged for isk

    The fact that ok with this Nosy is pretty baffling.

  3. It sure seems a lot easier than a lottery. "leave a comment for a chance to win" - When the 2B ISK show up in my wallet, both sides tell CCP it was a Twitch gift. How can CCP know if there was a $ transaction prior to "winning?"

  4. Wait. You're okay with SOMERblink's ISK-laundering scheme, but you object to this? Man, you really got to stop trolling.

    Bye Shadow!

  5. Which Twitch streamer is doing this?

  6. I think ccp can't ban one while allowing another. How are you defending this particular practice?

  7. I think this is related to iron's popular stream on twitch. None of the rules apply and there is no exchange of ingame currency for rl money - you can subscribe to a channel, you can donate, nothing of this is guaranteeing any win at all.

    People like Shadow just want to take a load on other people's work and effort. If people give you ingame items in DIRECT exchange for rl money, then it's ban-able. Every lottery based system is random and the streams I've seen so far always show the ingame name of the winners, so easy to track a) the players and b) check if the winners are subscribers or donators.