What are Gaming Tournament Licenses and Competition Guidelines?

February 23, 2023
Untitled design

In this guide, you’ll receive an introduction to tournament licenses and competition guidelines and what you need to know before planning your next gaming event. Not sure if you need to reach out to a publisher and make a request? We have you covered!

What are tournament licenses and community guidelines?

Tournament licenses are specific terms and conditions from game publishers for how third party organizations may use their game in tournament events. Tournament licenses protect the intellectual property of the publisher and how their game is used beyond just playing the game. From using the game name and logo, images of key characters, to videos of game play and more, everything is on the table for the publishers to protect.

In support of grassroots and local event organizing, some publishers establish a set of specific community or tournament guidelines that allow the public to autonomously plan their own events without needing to request specific licensing permission. These are sometimes referred to as ‘community licenses’ and often don’t require notification to the publisher directly.

Most commonly, tournament license agreements include permissions and restrictions across:

  • Event Naming and Branding

  • Registration or Entry Fees

  • Event Duration and Size

  • Sponsors, Partners and Restricted Products/Services

  • Prize Pools Limits

  • Live Stream Broadcast and Video Marketing

What are common guidelines and restrictions for tournaments?

Requesting a custom tournament license can take an unpredictable amount of time, especially if this is the first time you are planning your event. At the start of your planning process, it’s important to know what may ring an alarm for publishers.

Event Naming and Branding. If your event name doesn’t clearly distinguish the event from the game or publisher, or in any way gives the appearance the publishers are hosting the event themselves, it’s likely not a name you can or should use. Some publishers have banned additional words, such as “championship,” “league,” “series,” or “professional,” from event names to prevent confusion from existing professional competitive events.

Sometimes, games logos and brand assets can be used, but with specific sizing and placement guidelines. As with all brand logos, games logos shouldn’t be distorted or changed in any way if properly attributed to the publishing company.

Registration or Entry Fees. Some publishers prohibit or issue a minimum allowable entry fee for participants.

Event Duration and Size. Publishers typically limit the event length if covered under community guidelines, such as a maximum number of weeks. Tournament organizers may also be limited with the total number of participants allowed to participate, such as a maximum of 16 teams.

Sponsors, Partners and Restricted Products/Services. Community guidelines and tournament licenses alike typically include a list of prohibited sponsors for an event using their title. These banned sponsorship categories often include:

  • Other competing game titles

  • Pharmaceuticals and over-the-counter drugs

  • Tobacco, vaping and/or cannabis products

  • Gambling

  • Firearms, weapons and ammunition

  • Anything illegal

Prize Pools Limits. Publishers typically include a maximum prize pool in their community guidelines.

Live Stream Broadcast and Video Marketing. Related to event branding, use of a video game in any broadcast or video marketing fall under specific terms of use. Third party organizers need to be additionally cautious on available guidelines and license information. Any live event or television broadcasting will always require a custom request directly to the publisher.

How do I know if I need a tournament license?

First, review any community guidelines that are already in place for event organizers. Depending on the parameters of your tournament, you may fall under community guidelines already made available to the public.

If you can’t locate community guidelines, or want to plan an event that does not meet guidelines, you will need to reach out to the publisher directly and request a custom tournament license.

Where can I find tournament license agreements?

You can typically locate information about tournament guidelines and license agreements directly on the game publisher’s website. If available, access likely will be included in relation to their end user license agreement, public relations and events requests, or publisher contact pages.

Quick Access: Tournament Guidelines and License Requests for Publishers

Looking for community guidelines or more information about tournament licenses? We have pulled the top titles for esports and organized play for you!

Last updated: February 23, 2023

Get Started with LeagueSpot

Stressed about tournaments? Schedule a call with a member of our team or reach out at contact@leaguespot.gg and let us know how we can help. Be sure to join LeagueSpot on Discord or sign up for our newsletter to keep up with the latest esports news and events!

Learn more from LeagueSpot

Written by Sam Anton
Published on February 23, 2023