There has been plenty of controversy over the course of the Entertainment Software Rating Board’s 20-year history. Not as much as the MPAA film ratings board, mind you, but enough to call into question who decides what is and isn’t appropriate content.
By and large, though, when a game does get the ESRB’s AO (short for Adults Only) rating it’s for good reason. The AO rating also happens to be a kiss of death for many games, since most retailers won’t sell titles with that rating.
With digital sales, however, some AO games have been able to find a small fan base. Obviously, digital retailers can still block sales of AO games through their system, but some are a little less lenient. In fact, some might argue that an Adults Only game can find new life through the digitally-focused world of gameplay streaming and Let’s Play videos. Or at least that could…
Starting today, popular streaming service Twitch has announced a service-wide ban of Adults Only rated games. Previously, Twitch would treat each game on a case-by-case basis, determining which games to block and which were okay, but that is no longer their policy. Moving forward, any Twitch streamer that plays an Adults Only rated game will face a suspension, which for can be a big hit for those streamers who make a living off Twitch.
While Twitch does not say specifically what prompted the change, some are interpreting the move as a response to Hatred, the forthcoming AO-rated shooter. In fact, Twitch specifically names three games when citing Adults Only content: Manhunt, Indigo Prophecy: Director’s Cut, and Hatred.
Since its announcement last year, Hatred has been a seemingly endless source of controversy due in large part to its content. For those who might not be familiar, Hatred’s focus is on mass homicide without rhyme or reason – basically killing for the sake of killing.
That content has also helped increase Hatred’s profile among PC gamers who may be interested in checking out the game for curiosity’s sake or simply to prove a point. There’s no doubt that Hatred has been put through the paces during development, and some feel that criticism is unfair. However, standing up for a game and actually purchasing it are not one in the same.
That’s where a potential Hatred Twitch stream may have come in to help gamers decide if the title is for them. Unfortunately, that isn’t going to happen. Luckily, there are a handful of other popular streaming services that have yet to institute Adults Only rating bans. YouTube just announced a Twitch competitor service of their own this month.
So, fair warning to all Twitch streamers out there: all Adults Only games are now banned.