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Twitch officially revokes controversial ad guidelines after outcry from creators

Twitch backpedaled on the new policies just a day after releasing them

Illustration featuring purple and pink graphic lines and a Twitch logo Illustration: Ariel Davis for Polygon
Ana Diaz (she/her) is a culture writer at Polygon, covering internet culture, fandom, and video games. Her work has previously appeared at NPR, Wired, and The Verge.

Twitch has officially reversed course on a set of controversial branded content guidelines. “These guidelines are bad for you and bad for Twitch, and we are removing them immediately,” said a tweet from the official Twitch account.

The retraction comes just a day after the Twitch creator community was in an uproar after leadership behind the Amazon-owned livestreaming platform introduced — and then appeared to retract — new guidelines for how content creators can display ads and monetize their streams.

“Sponsorships are critical to streamers’ growth and ability to earn income. We will not prevent your ability to enter into direct relationships with sponsors — you will continue to own and control your sponsorship business,” another tweet from the official account said.

On Tuesday, Twitch released new branded content guidelines, as well as a tool to report branded content, that would have taken effect on July 1. The guidelines would have restricted creators’ ability to advertise on stream, including no longer allowing creators to insert “burned in” video ads (ads that creators directly place in a stream via a streaming and production app). The proposed guidelines had also included other changes, like a size limitation for on-stream brand logos so that they couldn’t take up more than 3% of the screen size.

Hours after these new guidelines were introduced, however, Twitch appeared to backpedal, after top creators like Asmongold, who has over 3.4 million followers on Twitch, talked openly about leaving the platform and thousands more spoke out on social media to criticize the changes.

Twitch issued a statement on Twitter, calling the branded content policy “overly broad” and apologizing for any confusion. The company said it would rewrite the guidelines to be clearer.

“We do not intend to limit streamers’ ability to enter into direct relationships with sponsors, and we understand that this is an important part of how streamers earn revenue,” read one tweet in Twitch’s thread. “We wanted to clarify our existing ads policy that was intended to prohibit third party ad networks from selling burned in video and display ads on Twitch, which is consistent with other services.”

As of Wednesday, the platform’s newly edited branded content guideline page no longer contains or mentions the controversial policies regarding on-screen logo sizes and burned-in adds.

Streamers had numerous reasons for objecting to these branded content policy changes. If implemented, these changes had the potential to shake the foundation of Twitch’s creator economy. For many streamers, additional sponsorship opportunities and on-stream advertising make full-time content creation a feasible career. The new changes could threaten those opportunities. Smashley, a streamer who is about to celebrate her eight-year anniversary as a Twitch Partner, explained how the changes would impact her.

“Placing these arbitrary restrictions on broadcasters will create tension between sponsors and what can only be assumed is either a reduced rate or less sponsorships altogether,” she told Polygon via Twitter. “More than our own voice, it restricts our sponsors’ voices, even the ones we want to promote. I will have to change my entire branding.”

Other forms of sponsorship-heavy content, like charity streams and award shows, would also be more difficult to run under the previous set of rules. Smashley mentioned that under these new guidelines, her recent charity stream with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital would not have been possible. Additionally, the creator of The Streamer Awards, QTCinderella, tweeted that she didn’t know if the award show would be able to “exist” within the new rules either.

Several top creators also took to their streams and Twitter to criticize the proposed changes. Some, like OTK Network members Asmongold and Mizkif, threatened to leave the platform if Twitch follows through with the new rules. In an interview with Polygon, OTK Network co-founder Tips Out said OTK Network would make the decision to leave because policy changes like the new guidelines “impact creators on a deeper level than most realize.”

“Ultimately, we want to work together with the platforms that were originally built to amplify the work that we do, and ensure that everyone is able to build a business in a way that best supports their goals and creates long-term success,” he said via email.

Mizkif, who has over 2 million followers on Twitch, said that the organization would move to YouTube, Rumble, or Kick if the changes went through.

Polygon also asked Tips Out about the organization's current relationship with Twitch. He told Polygon that the group’s primary aim is to advocate for other creators.

“OTK maintains a strong connection with various platform partners, like Twitch, YouTube, and Twitter. We’ve always prioritized maintaining an open dialogue with these partners, including Twitch and its management,” he said. “We actively engage in providing feedback and suggestions to these platforms, aiming to enhance their performance from the creator’s standpoint.”

Polygon reached out to Twitch for comment and received the following statement from a representative of the company:

We issued a thread thread on Twitter with our official statement— clarifying that streamers can still pursue these ad formats as a part of their own direct sponsorships with brands but our policy prohibits third party ad networks from selling burned in video and display ads on Twitch.

As mentioned, we’re updating the policy language to be clearer, and will share with our community, once available.

At the time, Polygon followed up and asked if the company plans to rewrite any major guidelines, or if the rule was simply misinterpreted and will be edited to be more clear. Additionally, Polygon asked if other policies, like the 3% logo size rule, would remain unchanged. The representative declined to answer the second question and told Polygon, “We’re rewriting the policy to be clearer to avoid misinterpretation/confusion.”

The controversy — and its subsequent reversal — illustrate the long-running push and pull between Twitch and its creators. The platform saw record-high viewership throughout the pandemic but has since dealt with controversy after controversy. Back in 2021, creators planned a boycott of the platform in response to frequent hate raids. More recently, the platform has had to deal with fallout over a change in revenue split and the platform's policies regarding gambling streams.

In the end, events like these test creators like Smashley’s relationship with the platform.

“I’m honestly disheartened. I’ve been broadcasting on this platform for 8 years and it feels like every few months, Twitch tries to find another way to make it harder to be on or stay on the platform and make a living,” she said. “They haven’t developed anything for creators in years that wasn’t already available.”

Update (June 8): On Wednesday afternoon, Twitch released its set of newly edited branded content guidelines, revoking the controversial new policies introduced the day before. The article has been edited to reflect this new information.

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