In the past few days the world of professional video gaming has been rocked with scandal. It started when professional Fortnite player and streamer Turner Tenney, better known as by his screen name “Tfue,” announced a lawsuit against his FaZe Clan. FaZe Clan is a brand which sponsors a number of different esports athletes across different games and platforms.
Tenney’s lawsuit comes with claims that his contract was extremely restrictive and deceptive. The contract says that Tenney only keeps 20 percent of revenue from branded videos, and 50 percent of his touring and appearance fees, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The percentage that FaZe Clan takes from Tfue may be fair or it may be unfair, but the problem lies in the fact that FaZe Clan is not licensed with the California Labor Commission. What this means is that legally FaZe Clan cannot dictate employment opportunities for an artist.
The outcome of this lawsuit could have big implications for the gaming community as a whole because these influencers are not really protected by any laws. If these esport athletes and even influencers on youtube unionize, they could use their collective bargaining rights to negotiate a fair contract.
It may seem silly to create unions for something as trivial as video games, but exports have grown into a multimillion dollar industry. The talent that drives this force are the gamers themselves, not the companies that represent them. One of the appealing factors about entertainers like Tfue is that they are flexible and not bound by large corporations. If this changes then the culture and tone of streaming and esports will change for the worse.