By Timothy Geigner
You will likely have been following along with us as we have steadily commented on the ongoing controversy at Twitch. But if you’re not read up on the topic, Twitch suddenly nuked zillions of hours of recorded content made by Twitch streamers in response to RIAA and game publisher DMCA notices, all without warning and all without a way to counternotice or get any of that content back. As the community went into revolt, Twitch continued taking down content, at times for sound effects within the games streamers were streaming. All the while, Twitch has issued a steady stream of apologies, while the streamer community has basically just shouted “Well then do something!” in response.
But Twitch hasn’t done anything. Not a damned thing. Which means it’s been left to the forward-thinking game publishers that actually realize how beneficial these streamers are to their own success to do something instead. To that end, it’s both great that CD Projekt Red has announced the forthcoming blockbuster Cyberpunk 2077 will have a game mode dedicated to using stream-safe music for streamers… and completely ridiculous that the publisher even has to do something like this.
During the latest installment of long-form Cyberpunk commercial series “Night City Wire,” UK head of communications Hollie Bennett explained that the game will have a mode that will not only remove licensed music from the in-game rotation but replace it with music that won’t get creators’ channels zapped out of existence. Handy!
“If you’re planning on livestreaming Cyberpunk, or if you just want to make videos, we want to introduce you to a new mode that will allow you to disable certain copyrighted tracks,” Bennett said. “We know that for content creators, licensed music can sometimes be problematic. So with this new mode, you’ll be able to disable a small number of selected tracks which could cause some issues, replacing them with a different song—helping to avoid any problems.”
So because Amazon-owned Twitch couldn’t be bothered to simply license the music in games in some sort of blanket manner, and because the music industry is so cartoonishly impermissive with its content, a game publisher has to step in to help. This comes as part of CD Projekt Red’s long history of being fan and public friendly, but it really shouldn’t have had to take such measures. Somebody somewhere along the way should have been on the side of the streamers who make these game products more popular, leading to more sales.
It’s still far from an ideal solution—nothing short of Amazon and Twitch striking a licensing deal with the music industry would be—but for now, it will have to do.
For now it will indeed have to do. But it sure would be nice if streaming platforms generally, and Twitch in particular, could get their collective heads out of their asses long enough to get their shit together and support their communities.