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Games Done Quick viewers upset over subscription chat fee (update)

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Casters hosting the stream to get around the paywall

Viewers tuning into Awesome Games Done Quick this week aren’t happy about having to pay to participate in Twitch chat, leading to complaints about the decision and workarounds from other streamers.

Games Done Quick, a charity event that marathons speedruns of video games to raise money for the Prevent Cancer Foundation, instituted a $5 channel subscription fee in order to participate in chat for this week’s Awesome Games Done Quick event.

In light of the frustration some viewers have with the current chat system, Games Done Quick released a statement explaining why it instituted the subscription fee. The statement can be read in full below:

We take moderation seriously and want to maintain a positive atmosphere in all of our events, especially as we are representing the charities we are benefiting. As Games Done Quick has grown over the years, our channel has now been averaging between 100k-150k concurrent viewers, and moderating a channel of this size has been extremely difficult. We’re currently exploring options to alleviate the situation and have opted to make the chat for AGDQ this year subscription-only. All GDQ subscription revenue in January will be donated to Prevent Cancer Foundation.

To circumvent the $5 fee, viewers began turning to other channels that are hosting Games Done Quick’s original stream. A Games Done Quick representative confirmed all money collected from the subscription fee goes toward the charity. Twitch’s host mode lets streamers rebroadcast other streams, sending all views and advertising money to the original streamer, but effectively allowing people to use the chat function for free. Viewers wouldn’t have to rely on a third-party communication platform, like Discord, to talk about the speedruns they’re seeing.

Some streamers who rehosted Games Done Quick’s broadcast were met with resistance from Twitch, however. One of the more popular channels that was created to host the stream, GDQ_Poverty, received a 24-hour ban for hate speech. Although they allege nothing hateful was said on stream, the channel’s creator didn’t try to appeal the ban. On the GDQ_Poverty subreddit, the channel’s creator posted a statement that read:

I just made this account on a whim in order to avoid having to (ridiculously) pay for a subscription to the official GDQ channel in order to chat with everyone else. For the first half-hour or so it was very nice, everyone was civil and excited to be able to use their favorite emotes. Word of the channel spread quickly, though, and soon the chat became a constant flood of emotes and spam. Things were impossible to discern through the stream so I introduced a 3-second slow mode, which seemed to work for a while.

Eventually things became so hectic that I had to introduce the moderation polls in order to quell the herd. These did an okay job of reducing the spam, but the more the spam got reduced, the more the hate started to spread.

To my dismay, the chat log began to be filled with racist and hateful remarks towards GDQ, runners, and random groups of people. It was right around this point that I had to drive home, which was going to take me two hours.

Following the closure of GDQ_Poverty’s channel, viewers started flocking to popular speedrunner Trihex’s channel. Trihex began hosting the official Games Done Quick stream, allowing viewers to use Twitch sidebar chat for free. On the GDQ_Poverty subreddit, viewers are posting channels that are hosting Games Done Quick, asking people to keep the broadcast on the lowdown so as not to face another potential ban from Twitch.

After another channel created for off-broadcast hosting, GDQ_plebs, was created as a way for viewers to watch Awesome Games Done Quick and chat for free, people in the chat began pointing out that using the “GDQ” name on their channels may be violating Twitch’s terms of service. Under Twitch’s terms of service, the company states that no broadcaster shall:

Impersonate any person or entity, falsely claim an affiliation with any person or entity, or access the Twitch Services accounts of others without permission, forge another person’s digital signature, misrepresent the source, identity, or content of information transmitted via the Twitch Services, or perform any other similar fraudulent activity.

Technically, GDQ_plebs and GDQ_Poverty did break Twitch’s terms of service, giving the company full authority to remove the channels, even if they were just hosting Games Done Quick’s official broadcast. A Games Done Quick representative confirmed that the organization isn’t involved with Twitch’s removal of other casters hosting the original stream.

On Reddit, viewers are torn on the organization’s use of a paywall. While some viewers are frustrated that they have to find other ways to talk about the speedruns they’re watching on Twitch, others, including the hosts of GDQ_Poverty, have pointed out that the organization shouldn’t have to deal with racist, misogynistic and homophobic comments from trolls.

“Honestly I’m really not surprised that this happened,” the statement on GDQ_Poverty’s subreddit reads. “The chat at certain points was pretty appalling, and people were just feeding off of one another. That kind of atmosphere wasn’t what I intended to create when I made the channel, but in this situation it was probably (unfortunately) inevitable.”

Games Done Quick’s rules for chat etiquette are listed on the organization’s Twitch page, and read as such:

  • No racism, sexism (including excessive grill spam), discrimination, homophobia, or hate speech against other viewers, runners, staff or attendees
  • No history, politics, conspiracy theories or religion (including 9/11 and nazi spam)
  • No links
  • Do not encourage others to spam
  • No Custom bots that post in chat or whisper
  • Adding Kappa to your message is not an excuse
  • No excessive ascii or copypasta spam

The full Awesome Games Done Quick schedule can be found here.

Update: A Twitch representative told Polygon that “anyone is welcome to host the GDQ event as long as they’re not blocked by or banned from the hosted channel and do not violate our Community Guidelines. The majority of channels hosting GDQ have done so without issue.”