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Creators – Avoid Breaking Embargos of Early Game Releases

Getting early access to a new game in development is an exciting prospect for creators who base their content around video games. The idea that you are creating content around a new, super-hyped title before anybody else is an enticing prospect, as that would drive a lot of traffic your way. However, you need to be careful about early game releases, particularly if there is an associated embargo on the game.

Even when the embargo is lifted, there are some things you’ll need to disclose when you create content using the game. Failure to do so is actually illegal, assuming you got it for free or even received money along with the game itself. More on that in just a bit.

What is a Embargo? How Does it Apply to Video Games?

What is a Embargo? How Does it Apply to Video Games?

An embargo is an official ban on commercial activity or trade within a particular country, but they are not limited to specific countries.

In fact, for things like early game releases, or head starts, or any instance where you are getting to play a game before anybody else, there is likely to be a global embargo attached to it. This global embargo is in effect until a set date, meaning you are free to play this game to your heart’s content, SO LONG as you do not create any public-facing content around it until the embargo is lifted.

For example, if Rocket League had an embargo on it, I couldn’t release my review or risk souring my relations with Psyonix (Now part of Epic Games) because I would have broken the embargo and thus squandered their trust in me.

With that said, an embargo can prohibit some activity and allow others at different dates. Developers use this delay to plan a marketing shpiel around having multiple news outlets release some info about the game as an “early look into X game” to drive up the hype. After that initial wave of hype gets their target audience excited, they then lift the embargo on video-based content like YouTube. You start to see videos that take their first look at where the game is in development, noting bugs, etc.

Following that, live streaming is typically the last to be lifted because it is a form of content that has the least developer control over. After all, you don’t want to show off bugs if you can avoid them.

This is typically why game developers use embargos in the first place – it’s an enabling tool to boost marketing efforts. Just imagine how hard it would be to find out about a game if news sites trickle release articles about game releases – someone who is excited will have to really dig to find information about the game. The embargo ensures the end-user gets all the information they want from multiple sources without much difficulty, instilling a desire to buy the game.

How to Tell If a Game You Have Has an Embargo

One of the simplest ways to know if the game has an embargo is if you signed anything. For example, you might have signed an NDA or Non-Disclosure-Agreement before access was handed to you. However, not all companies require that you sign an NDA. A simple word of mouth agreement can also be used, which is still binding, though not to the degree of an NDA.

If you were given pre-public access to a game title in development, then you’ll likely have some sort of contact with the developers. Therefore, it is in your best interest to reach out to them through an established communication channel, be it an email address, a private discord, or some other means, to ask what is and isn’t allowed.

It never hurts to ask.

What Happens if You Break Embargo?

What Happens if You Break Embargo?

Breaking the embargo, accidentally or otherwise, is extremely damaging for your relationship with the company that made the game and even the game development community at large.

  • See, game devs have places where they can place your name on a denylist
  • Other devs can reference that list when deciding whether or not they want to give you pre-public access to test games out
  • In other words, doors that were once open to you may slam unceremoniously in your face.
  • Oh, and this denylist may also extend to those you collaborate with
    • Streamers who associate with you may also land on the denylist for your actions.
    • That is an excellent way to sever networking relationships with them should they find out that you broke the embargo and ruined any chances of them getting some early access titles.
  • In some extreme cases, a lawsuit can even follow, which can be a headache and a half, as you might imagine.

My advice?

Don’t break embargos.

Important Info About Games You Get For Free – Disclose it!

Even when the Embargo lifts, there is something you should be aware of if you received a permanent copy of the game.

When a broadcast station transmits any matter for which money, service, or other valuable consideration is paid or promised to, or charged or accepted by such station, federal law and FCC rules require the broadcaster to announce, at the time of the broadcast, that such matter is sponsored, paid for, or furnished and the identification of the sponsor.

Source – FCC

For the record, a live streaming channel is classified as a broadcasting station.

It is imperative that you heed this and put #sponsored in the title of your stream or YouTube video for any game you received for free. This applies to ANY time you stream this title. Additionally, I advise that you make a list of games that you got for free that aren’t actually free normally, so you don’t forget later down the line.

This also includes free games you got from places like Woovit, by the way.

I hope this article helped you learn something about embargos and that you now have a solid understanding of them. If you’re still confused about them, please don’t hesitate to ask in the comments – If I’ve missed something, I’d appreciate it if you let me know so that I can correct it asap.

Here Are Some Popular Choices for Streamer Gear

Hey, thanks for reading the article! So I’ve compiled this small resource for you guys in case you may be on the lookout for some handy or helpful things to add to your streaming setup. Some of you may be new to streaming and may not know about this stuff, so I wanted to bring this stuff to your attention.

There are a large number of cool products designed to make the lives of streamers and content creators easier or to improve the quality of their setup. Before I do list them though, I strongly recommend that you do your research and check reviews from multiple sources, even beyond those I’ve included here. It is never bad to get a second, third, or even fourth opinion before you make an investment.

Microphones: One of the most popular microphones for live streaming is the Elgato Wave 3 or Wave 1. This microphone is great for streamers because it gives you a ton of control over your audio chain, mimicking some of the features of the venerable GoXLR virtually without all the wires and complexity.

Here are some reviews that you can reference so you can decide whether or not you’d like to get one for yourself:

EposVox Wave 3 Review / Harris Heller(Alpha Gaming) Wave 3 Review / Podcastage Wave 3 Review

Audio Interfaces: For those of you who’d like to not be limited to a single microphone option, then you’re in luck because Elgato now makes the Wave XLR Audio Interface. This device allows you to use any XLR microphone, including the ever-popular, but gain hungry SM7B without a cloud lifter, and retain the features of the Wave microphones mentioned above.

Here are some reviews of this audio interface:

EposVox Wave XLR Review / Podcastage Wave XLR Review / Harris Heller Wave XLR Review

Green Screens: A green screen is a common tool used by content creators to give them unparalleled control over their backgrounds for content. Many opt to use a green screen to remove their background entirely and overlay themselves onto the gameplay itself. As for What green screen I recommend, you’ll have to read my article about green screens, because it explains it better than what I can fit here.

Lights: Lighting is super important if you care about the quality of your camera feed from your webcam or any camera for that matter. For one, those of you who rely on your monitor for your main source of light will have inconsistent lighting that changes based on what your screen is displaying. The best part is that almost any light will do, as any light is better than no light.

With that said, there are better lights that are designed for production purposes that have better color accuracy, are brighter, and have more control. You can check out some of them in my top 5 lights article. Also, having a dim light in your background on a camera scene will look better.

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