Unfortunately, far too often eSports athletes have to go out of their way to receive payment for the tournaments they have championed. Last night was one of those instances. Have Payback Games gone too far with their treatment of eSports athletes?
PayBackGames are a company who, for many months now, have been receiving money from PS3, Xbox 360 and PC eSports players, in return for tournament entry – a standard practice used worldwide to create highly successful and reputable businesses such as Major League Gaming, World Cyber Games and Intel Extreme Masters who pay prize money of $100,000 and more. Unfortunately, PayBackGames business practice has become questionable of late.
Over 2 months ago, reputable UK-based Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 team, TCM Gaming, entered one of PayBackGames online tournaments where they placed third, earning themselves a nice $1,000 in prizes.
“Our player Rich had signed off all the forms they provided, [he] just forgot to send them out. Without warning they’re now saying we’re not entitled to our winnings.” said MarkyB, a member of TCM Gaming.
TCM Gaming aren’t the only organisation who’ve yet to receive their prize money from PayBackGames. Another UK-based Call of Duty team, Epsilon, have yet to receive their $2,500, in similar circumstances where one player out of the team of four failed to fill out their claim form.
“We’ve played in online tournaments before and not had any of this kind of hassle. We’re just disappointed that the management at PayBackGames think it’s ok [sic] to dupe the [console eSports] scene out of their money.” said a member of Epsilon who wanted to remain anonymous.
When questioned about the situation by the community via Twitter, PayBackGames stated that their T&Cs were very clear; that all members of the team needed to submit claim forms in order for the payment to go through. They also stated that the tournament sponsor, GamerGloves, was the party who demanded these terms and who refused to pay (PayBackGames have since contradicted this claim). Both GamerGloves and PayBackGames were unresponsive when asked for comment.
When questioned, several players stated that at no point were they prompted to accept any terms and conditions when entering the tournament. However, since last night, a set of terms and conditions have turned up, which mysteriously can’t be found on their website.
Upon doing some in-depth searches of their site content on Google, it’s immediately evident that no forms containing custom terms and conditions for their competitions have ever been published to the site in any format:
Currently, PayBack Games claims their site isn’t set up for hosting PDFs in this tweet:
However, a quick search shows the site actually contains two already, rather embarrassingly:
Additionally, services like Dropbox and Google Drive exist to make files readily available to both the public and select-access users, so there’s no excuse for a lack of available terms and conditions here at all.
Furthermore, a search of every site cache since 2011 makes it clear that they have never set up the site to host terms and conditions of any kind, at any point. Given that none of the competitors have ever seen the aforementioned near-mythical terms and conditions and there’s no record of it on the internet in any form, it seems questionable that competitors are being asked to adhere to something so intangible.
So who’s to blame for all of this confusion? Should the teams read the terms and conditions thoroughly to avoid mistakes like this? Should PayBackGames, as a tournament host, be responsible for making sure that the sponsor delivers the promised prize money? Or should the sponsors be held accountable for their ignorance of the eSports scene?
Here’s a few tweets from the community and the organisations about the situation (some of which have now been deleted):