Forbes has an interesting little interview with 343’s Kevin Franklin, talking about Halo 4’s potential for the eSports world. Honestly, there’s very little of substance in this “exclusive interview” – basically, Halo 4 has some multiplayer modes, they’d be good for eSports, and MLG Dallas will be featuring Halo 4.
Of course, what isn’t mentioned is that Microsoft specifically prohibits the use of Halo 4 in commercial ventures. This won’t be a problem for the eSports big boys like MLG – they’ll just work with Microsoft to sort out the licensing. But want to shoutcast your own YouTube Partner channel? Nope.
The other big eSports players – namely Blizzard and Riot – have policies that are specifically written to allow the vibrant community of amateur shoutcasters to continue without fear of a lawsuit. From Blizzard’s policy:
Note that Blizzard Entertainment’s restriction that Productions be limited to “non-commercial” uses also means that you may not license a Production you have created to another company for a fee, or for any other form of compensation, without specific written permission from Blizzard Entertainment to do so. Blizzard Entertainment reserves the right to use its products for all commercial purposes. The only exceptions to this rule are if you participate in partner programs with YouTube, Justin.tv, Blip.tv, Own3d.tv, or Ustream.tv (the Production Websites) whereby a Production Website may pay you for views of a Production if you are accepted into their partner program.
So while you can’t run something massive like an MLG tournament, you can make money off the content. Microsoft’s policy lacks this exception, making it much riskier for amateur casters hoping to create Halo 4 content.
Will this be a big issue? Hopefully not – the games industry is notoriously lax on enforcement. But Microsoft’s usage policy was very purposely updated right before the launch of Halo 4. So while they may not begin suing every YouTuber in sight, I think we might be coming to the end of the Wild West of game copyright infringement.