Collision of Twitch Business Model and EVE ISK

Twitch streamers have been giving away things worth ISK to their viewers for a while now. As long as no actual money is involved, this is not a problem. Typically, an EVE Twitch streamer might PvP or talk about his/her subject of expertise. You can listen to somebody complain about Ishtars, or maybe watch someone die to Ishtars. Then they get around to something along the lines of, “Type ‘ishtarsuck’ into the channel if you want a shiny new Federation Comet.” A bunch of people spam whatever the word or phrase is into the chat channel. The streamer has a program randomly select one of them, asks for the in-game name of the winner’s character, and sets up a contract for the winner. Normally, a giveaway is free to the public. People sometimes have to hit the “Follow” button to be eligible, but this costs nothing. The program that raffles items away simply picks someone who typed into the channel within the last few minutes. The problem is that some streamers have started subscriber-only giveaways. They set their channel so that only subscribers can type into the channel. This means that only subscribers can enter the raffle. A person pays a set amount ($4.99 USD is a typical amount) monthly to be a subscriber. Streamers doing this start with prizes open to anyone, that tend to be things like T3 destroyers, T2 and faction frigates, generally with a value around 50 mil ISK. Subscriber only prizes tend to be faction battleships and more valuable items clocking in around 500 mil ISK. The fact that this is on Twitch and not somewhere else should not matter. Imagine a hypothetical individual who ran a raffle without the aide of Twitch. This person charges $5 USD for a ticket. Prizes include EVE items worth decent amounts of ISK. Is this ethical?

Somer Blink

For anyone not familiar with it, the details of the Somer Blink strategy may be relevant. Somer Blink sold PLEX to their customers. That is, they had a link on their site through which you could buy a PLEX from CCP. The deal for the people who do this, is that CCP authorized PLEX sellers will kickback a small amount of cash to any website that manages to sell a PLEX, generally a 5% commision. The problem that Somer ran into, was that they started offering people gambling credit for buying PLEX through their website. The gambling credits were worth, on average, a certain ISK value. Turning the credits into ISK took a little effort and possibly some risk. But again, on average, by buying PLEX through Somer Blink an individual could expect to be given a small extra chunk of ISK. The important thing about Somer Blink is that they were not offering a simple deal where a client paid real cash and received a sum of ISK. They obfuscated the ISK handout by making it a gambling proposition. “You are not buying ISK. You are buying gambling credits.” They clouded the process in general by making it complex with many steps along the route, and this only hurt them in the end.


A player may have bought PLEX from Somer Blink because they honestly liked the website and wanted their business to support it. A player may subscribe to a stream because they honestly like the stream. The problem was, and still is, using ISK to sweeten the deal. Who subscribed because they could win a Barghest? Who just likes the streamer? Surely, someone is more likely to become a subscriber if they think they can win something? If giveaway items were just about getting people to watch the stream, why do they need to be behind a paywall? Twitch streamers in other games have long held a tradition of giveaways. At one point, you could win Diablo 3 Gold or Steam credit. You can go out and find streamers of various games raffling CD-keys, hardware, and other kinds of goodies. So the idea of getting people to subscribe by offering nice prizes has been around for some time. From an outsider’s view, it seems to be a business model for many streams. EVE streamers using this model likely learned about it from watching other streamers in other games. There is a good chance that the EVE streamers giving away ISK did not ask themselves how they could turn ISK into hard cash. Streamers may have been asking themselves, “What do I have laying around that I can give to my subscribers?” The problem is not one of character. The problem is not about intent. The problem, really, is “Is the current practice acceptable?” If CCP decides they don’t like this type of arrangement, it doesn’t automatically mean they need to unleash the banhammer. It would be reasonable for CCP to simply state whether this crosses any lines or not. The community would then adapt either way. Any harsh response to people generating content on Twitch that discourages that behavior would be bad for EVE marketing. A reversal in policy with any kind of retroactive punishment would be severe. CCP needs to clarify policy without taking any other action. If CCP is against it, they can tell streamers to separate paywalls and ISK prizes. An EVE streamer would give out items valued in ISK to everybody, as long as it was not just to subscribers. The subscriber-only giveaways needs be hardware, EVE T-Shirts, or something else EVE related that is not ISK. A stream with quality content need not hand out ISK to get subscribers. If handing out ISK is needed to get cash subscriptions, maybe that is the problem.
Tags: isk, Mukk, policy, Twitch

About the author

Mukk Barovian

Mukk is a long time skirmish FC with a penchant for overpropping his ships.

  • Agatir

    Somer Blink rewarded a purchase with ISK. $=ISK. In most of the Twitch streams that I have seen a subscription or donation might have perks (accrue points to wager faster, have multiple chances to win, etc) but they have never been guaranteed payouts. I have never seen it where only those that PAY get rewarded. I’d wish folks would 1) understand what the EULA allows and doesn’t, 2) actually have specific examples of EULA violations before making generalized opinions of why it is wrong.

    Not to say there aren’t folks violating the EULA, but it is also possible that some folks have found a way to follow their business model within the EULA guide lines.

    • Aneurysm9

      To quote a poster above: “Are you stupid, or something?”

      People who bought PLEX through Somer were never guaranteed payouts. It was a gambling site FFS. That doesn’t change the fact that they were using ISK as an incentive to extract dollars.

      • Agatir

        Are you aware of what actions got Somer banned? As I understand it, Somer sold then purchased the PLEX back above market prices. Which in essence guaranteed that the buy did receive more ISK than allowed by the natural market.

        • The reason publicly given by CCP is that Somerset Mahm published communications between himself and CCP. But Agatir is correct on what Somerset was doing when CCP shut his operation down.

          Remember, SOMERblink’s initial ISK laundering scheme that ran for years, while violating the EULA, actually followed all of CCP’s rules and wasn’t outlawed until November 2013 when CCP changed the GTC resellers agreement. That, I believe, was the scheme that Aneurysm9 is referring to. SOMERblink and all of the other gambling sites that copied SOMERblink’s business model were not banned for that.

  • Messiah Complex

    Well, that didn’t take long.

  • Koll Anderson

    Are you stupid, or something?

    • Koll Anderson

      go read this:
      I could quote endlessly from that Article, on why Streamers giving away free shit, is in NO WAY related to RMT, but instead, I would rather have you try to educate yourself a bit on your own.

      Then, after reading that, come back and HONESTLY CONVINCE ME, that streamers are directly selling ISK to their Subscribers, and that they are negatively impacting the Eve Community.

      Again, keeping in mind, that the Subscription for the stream is for the content of the stream, and the work the streamer does ENTERTAINING his Followers and Subscribers. There is no way to prove otherwise, if you can, by all means; Please do so.

      • Alexhandr

        You are missing the point.
        Giving out free stuff to viewers is fine. Having a subscription-only chat is fine too. The problem is that CCP’s terms do not allow you to give people benefits based on their subscriber status, with a result that while Somers’ credits didn’t guarantee ISK, they were very likely to provide a cash incentive for those who bought through Somer. That in itself according to the CCP rules is a form of RMT.

      • Koll, you’re linking to a 7-year old page when the latest EULA is from 2012? I’m having a hard time thinking you are anything but a troll.

        The issue here is not RMT so much as how Twitch streamers (and to a lesser extent YouTubers) are able to monetize EVE. Instead of pointing to CCP’s policies concerning real money trading, you want the link to CCP’s Monetiation of Videos Policy.

        I will say that relying on the legal department is probably not the optimal way to handle any questions about the policy.

        • Koll Anderson

          Thanks for that link, but I never once saw the Author of the article refer to “Monetization of Videos”. He sure did compare Twitch to Somer Blink a whole bunch though. Why was Somer shut down again? Was it because they didn’t let everyone watch their videos?
          So, no, I am not Trolling. I am directly addressing the Article above where the Author is claiming that Twitch Giveaways = Somer Blink

          • Sorry, you have to be trolling. I give you a 2/10, but only because you got me to come back and answer this.

            Sorry Xander, I’ll stop feeding the troll now.

          • Koll Anderson

            My first post was an insulting question, not “just” an insult. Sure, it was also a rhetorical question, and I didn’t really expect a response, but it did sum up my perspective on his view point in 4 words.
            The article I linked was the most recent statement (short of Dev blogs saying “We banned Botters”) that CCP has made on the topic. If you can find more recent that actually mentions their policies, please link it.
            So far, you’re about 5/10, because it’s obvious you’re trying hard.

    • Expert Opinion

      oO Chill dude

    • Jake Cooper

      More like Troll Anderson amirite?

      • Koll Anderson


  • Name

    Gr8 b8 m8, many a streamer in csgo etc make scrubscriber only giveaways, making same in eve being something wrong is a retarded proposal

  • Dysco

    *Dusts off pitch fork*

  • Lioso Cadelanne

    I feel like I’m missing something. Is giving away ships even an issue?

    • A Merc

      It isn’t if the people giving the ships / isk away are not receiving any real monies in return.

      However if you have a twitch channel with 1000s of subscribed individuals where you receive a percentage of the subscription fees are you now into the illicit RMT territory.

      I think the writer was making the point that if subscriber only prizes / give a ways weren’t isk related then it wouldn’t look like illicit RMT.

  • InB4 CCP:

    Just a small correction about a mistake you made about the player affiliates of the authorized PLEX resellers. CCP to my knowledge has never directly given money to any website as a kickback for selling PLEX. What occurred, and still occurs, is that authorized PLEX resellers partner up with player-run websites and pay the player-run websites a commission (usually 5%) for each sale made using a referral link on the website. As of November 2013, the authorized PLEX resellers are responsible to make sure their player affiliates are not violating the EVE EULA.

    • MukkBarovian

      Noted and fixed.

  • Saint Michael’s Soul

    I really don’t get the fuss the community sometimes gets into about RMT and the case above is not RMT in it’s essence. It’s also no different from having to pay to register on the “Something Awful” forums, or seeing advertising on a fan/news site. There have to be a few mildly grey areas, as CCP want/need the game promoted and all of the above are useful methods of doing so.

    • Twitch streamer receives real money from twitch watcher.
      Twitch watcher receives isk from streamer.
      = RMT. What is mildly grey about this or what makes this not RMT in essence?

      • Saint Michael’s Soul

        RMT is a problem when organisations identify a game as ripe for making money from and then floood the place with bots and low paid workers running farms of money making activities – These activities detract from the game and cause legit players to quit and over time can result in the death of the game as money starts flowing not to the company who make the game but to criminals.

        A situation where a twitch streamer make a couple of dollars is not a problem; In fact its likely to be driving more actual players to the game and makes the game more healthy. That’s why it’s not RMT in the true sense. He’s not responsible for oceans of bots, links to criminal organisations or psuedo slave-labour in developing nations. That’s what I mean by not RMT in essence.

  • Thomas

    EVE has this weird thing where RMT has become such a boogeyman that people have completely lost sight of why it’s banned in the first place. It’s to avoid tricky legal situations for CCP and to try and discourage play that harms the game like botting/gold-farming.

    There’s really no chance that people are going to ISK farm so that they can a stream so that people can pay subscriptions for the chance to win a ship every now and then.

    And equally we know it’s not going to get CCP in legal trouble, because this happens in tons of games.

    At the moment this attitude to “RMT” is just destroying parts of the community that, if anything, we should be incentivising to grow.

  • IWI funnage

    I want ISK are going an interesting way with this.
    The prizes in twitch giveaways are not subscriber-only. They can be won by anyone, to get tickets for the raffles you only need to be in stream.
    However, they’ve now started giving more tickets out for people who subscribe/donate – occasionally there’ll be a raffle for a big prize and you can enter as many tickets as you like.
    Ultimately this means subscribers/donaters have an increased chance of winning some of these raffles, which greys the lines of the RMT cloud even further.

    I actually petitioned CCP about this, not because I wanted them to stop it, I don’t really see the issue with it. I just wanted to know If I did donate/subscribe and won a prize could this later be seen as RMT?

    CCP replied saying their legal team were looking into it already, and they couldn’t comment further till they were done.

    The IWI site has been blacklisted by CCP, some people are saying it’s a mistake, some are saying it’s intentional, but I think the silence speaks volumes, CCP don’t actually *know* what they should do about this, and their legal team’s taking an age to figure it out.

  • Long Johnson

    Let me start with saying that I’m ok with what IWI is doing on Twitch right now.
    However it’s still interesting to look at if you take away the stream part and just look at it from a gambling perspective. I’m sure a huge chunk of his viewers are only there for the isk.

    So let’s look at what they do. Raffles open to everyone with a buy-in of 1 ticket. Fair game for everyone regardless if you subscribe or not. Raffles open to everyone but with unlimited tickets. Subscribers will have a better chance simply because they acquire tickets at a faster rate. More tickets = bigger chance.

    Now let’s assume there was a gambling website with this strategy. Imagine it exactly the way the IWI stream works but without the video content. Keep the site open to get x tickets per hour and pay for an increased rate. Have raffles with a buy-in of 1 and unlimited raffles.

    The point i’m trying to make here is that anything that smells like RMT but isn’t a direct cash for isk trade is really grey. Because a site working like that would generate a lot more outrage than the twitch model even tho they work the same.

    And where do you draw the line?
    Is it ok to pay people for content on your website that has ads to generate revenue?
    What about renting a server and selling TS, mumble, forums or any other service for isk?

    Like I said I’m cool with what IWI does as well as the isk for articles or server space because everyone can benefit from it. At the same time there’s a lot of grey area in which people with a lot of isk are looking for loopholes to convert said isk to real money. And it’s hypocritical to shut down Somer for their gambling credit for plex sales (if that was the reason) while allowing gambling credit for subscribing on Twitch which is what IWI is doing.

  • Orunis

    If the prizes are won from random draws and there is an element of chance to win, how can CCP even have an opinion on this? It’s not like every person who subscribes to Twitch automatically gets something of isk value (i.e. it’s not part of a transaction or sale). Just because someone has better odds because they subscribbed doesn’t mean they will automatically win so I don’t see the issue? Is this really the kind of example or situation that the RMT rules/restrictions were created for?