Having legally sound and comprehensive terms of service (ToS) is essential for any gaming platform to set clear ground rules, protect the business, and foster a thriving community.
However, drafting effective terms of service can be daunting, especially for gaming startups building out their first platform. Trying to cover all the necessary legal bases while using reader-friendly language is challenging.
That’s where having clauses templates and examples focused specifically on gaming use cases can help immensely. Rather than starting from a blank page, utilizing proven ToS clauses as building blocks makes the process far more manageable.
This guide aims to ease the creation of customized, gaming-tailored terms of service for sites, apps, communities, and more by providing:
- Explanations of key ToS sections to include
- Multiple sample clauses for each section
- Alternate verbiage and options to mix-and-match
- Examples crafted for gaming industry specifics
Having these comprehensive gaming terms of service resources all in one place saves you the effort of piecing together disparate references and deciphering legalese. Instead, you can use this post as a framework to efficiently draft concise ToS that clearly communicate standards and protections specific to your gaming platform.
While professional legal review is still recommended before implementing your terms of service, the clauses and guidance here allow you to handle the heavy lifting of creating an initial draft yourself.
Read on to explore sample verbiage and explanations for gaming ToS provisions covering:
- User account management
- Acceptable use policies
- User generated content permissions
- Disclaimers and limitations of liability
- Modification rights
- Governing law and venue
Let’s level up your gaming platform’s legal safeguards!
Key sections are:
Account and User Provisions
This section governs user account creation, management, suspension and termination.
Account Registration and Creation
Explain how users can sign up for an account. Require acceptance of ToS:
To create an Account, you must provide a valid email address and be eligible to use our Services. By signing up, you represent you have authority to enter into these Terms and agree to abide by them.
Complete registration by providing a username, password, and valid email address. Check the box affirming you have read and agreed to these Terms of Service.
Username and Avatar Policies
- Set rules on appropriate usernames and avatars:
Usernames may not be offensive, impersonate others, violate trademark rights, or insinuate affiliation with our Company. Avatars depicting nudity, extreme violence, illegal acts, etc. are prohibited.
- Ban profanity, hate speech, slurs in usernames:
Choose a username free from profanity, sexual references, slurs, or offensive language of any kind. We reserve the right to force username changes or suspend accounts using inappropriate names.
Account Suspension and Termination
- Explain reasons for account suspensions/bans:
Accounts may be suspended or terminated if a user violates these Terms, engages in illegal activity, or infringes others’ rights. Temporary or permanent suspension may occur based on severity of breach.
- Allow immediate termination for egregious ToS violations:
While most ToS breaches will result in warnings and a chance to rectify behavior before suspension, we reserve the right to immediately terminate accounts associated with serious illegal acts.
Acceptable Use Policy
Clarify permitted and prohibited uses of your gaming services.
- Note intended functionality:
Our Services are for non-commercial gaming, entertainment, and communications between users. Do not misuse or abuse our Services.
- Encourage fair play and constructive interactions:
Use our Platform respectfully and interact with others in a courteous, constructive manner. Compete fairly and follow game rules.
- Ban cheating, hacking, fraud explicitly:
Cheating, hacking, tampering with services, or gaining unfair advantage through unauthorized techniques or third party software is strictly prohibited.
Impersonating others, financial fraud, illegal gambling, phishing schemes, and other unlawful behavior violates these Terms.
- Prohibit offensive, dangerous, and infringing conduct:
Do not post content that is obscene, abusive, defamatory, infringing, dangerous, or illegal. Do not harass or harm other users.
User Content Policies
Cover permissions around user generated content.
Intellectual Property Ownership
- Users own what they create, you need a license:
Users retain IP rights to original content they post, upload, or submit to our Services. However, you grant us a non-exclusive license to distribute and publicly display said content.
- Clarify rights over streams and recordings:
Users hold rights over their live streams and gameplay recordings. We may reproduce portions of streams/recordings for promotional purposes.
Removal of Infringing Content
- Comply with copyright law and allow takedown requests:
We respect copyright law and will expeditiously remove any infringing content properly reported through a DMCA notice. Submit notices to dmca@[gamingplatform].com
- Reserve discretion to remove problematic content:
We reserve the right to remove any User Content that violates our policies, applicable law, or another party’s intellectual property rights.
Use disclaimers to limit legal liability:
OUR SERVICES AND RELATED CONTENT ARE PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND. WE DISCLAIM ALL EXPRESS AND IMPLIED WARRANTIES.
WE ARE NOT LIABLE FOR ANY USER MISCONDUCT, OFFENSIVE CONTENT, OR HARM CAUSED BY THIRD PARTIES USING OUR SERVICES.
Limitation of Liability
Release your company from certain kinds of damage claims:
UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHALL [GAMING PLATFORM] BE LIABLE FOR ANY INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, PUNITIVE, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES ARISING FROM USE OF OUR SERVICES OR USER GENERATED CONTENT.
OUR TOTAL LIABILITY FOR ANY DAMAGES IS LIMITED TO THE AMOUNT YOU PAID US TO USE OUR SERVICES.
Allow flexibility to change the ToS when needed:
We may modify these Terms at any time in our sole discretion. Updated Terms will be posted publicly. Using our Services after changes constitutes acceptance of modifications.
Material ToS changes will be notified via email in advance. Continued use of our Services confirms you accept the new Terms.
Governing Law and Venue
Establish which laws and venues govern:
These Terms are governed by the laws of the State of [Your State] without regard to conflict of law principles. Any action against our Company related to our Services must take place in [Your City], [Your State].
If any provision of these Terms is found unenforceable, the remaining provisions will remain in effect and enforceable.
Covering these aspects thoroughly with multiple options helps craft solid terms for your gaming platform. Be sure to customize the clauses to match your specific offerings and needs.
By now you should have a solid grasp of the key clauses to include when crafting customized terms of service for a gaming platform, along with multiple sample options for each provision.
To recap, be sure your final terms of service cover these gaming-focused elements:
- User Account Policies – Account creation, management, username rules, and suspension protocols
- Acceptable Use – Permitted activities, prohibited behaviors, anti-cheating stipulations
- User Content – Content licensing, takedown procedures, infringement prohibitions
- Disclaimers – Limit warranties and legal liability for the company
- Limitation of Liability – Release the company from certain damages claims
- Modification Clause – Allow flexibility to update terms when necessary
- Governing Law and Venue – Choose governing law and jurisdiction
- Binding Arbitration – Require arbitration and ban class actions
While the sample clauses provided aim to cover the key bases, additional provisions may be warranted depending on your gaming site’s specific offerings and risks. Think through edge cases and consult an attorney for guidance.
Also remember that terms of service are living documents requiring periodic review and updates. Revisit your ToS on a regular basis to determine if modifications are needed to the rules, policies or terms as your platform evolves.
Make sure any changes are communicated clearly and consented to by users. Archive outdated versions.
By leveraging the templates and explanations here, you can craft solid terms of service to benefit users and protect your gaming business. Just be sure to customize the sample clauses to match your unique needs and offerings.
Here is a free customizable terms of service template for a gaming platform based on the clauses and guidance provided in this post:
Free Gaming ToS Template
Feel free to utilize this template as a framework when drafting your own tailored terms of service:
These Terms of Service (“Terms”) govern your access to and use of Gaming Platform and constitute a binding legal agreement between you and [Gaming Company].
We may modify these Terms at any time. If we make material changes, we will notify you via email or the Service. Your continued use of our Service confirms your acceptance of the modified Terms.
2. Eligibility and Accounts
You must be age 13+ and provide accurate registration details to open an account. One account per person.
Do not sell, trade, gift or purchase accounts. Account selling/trading is prohibited.
Choose a username and avatar that follow our policies. Usernames and avatars may not be offensive, impersonate others, insinuate affiliation, or infringe rights.
3. Acceptable Use
Use our Service responsibly for entertainment purposes only. Do not misuse our Service or disrupt others.
Cheating, hacking, or gaining unfair advantage through unauthorized techniques is strictly prohibited.
Do not exploit bugs or flaws you discover for advantage. Report them privately so we may fix them.
Do not impersonate others or engage in illegal, dangerous or fraudulent activities while using our Service. This includes illegal gambling.
Do not post offensive or infringing content in chat, messages, streams, or other user generated content.
4. User Content Permissions
You retain rights to original content you stream, upload or submit. However, you grant us a broad license to use your user generated content.
Do not share third party copyrighted content unless you have express permission or rights to do so.
We respect copyright law and respond to properly filed DMCA notices. However we reserve discretion to remove or disable allegedly infringing content pending review.
5. Termination for Breach
We may terminate your account for serious or repeated breaches of these Terms. Temporary or permanent suspension may occur based on severity.
Sale or purchase of accounts, severe cheating, illegal behavior, harassment, and egregious policy violations may result in immediate termination.
Our Service is provided on an “as is” basis without warranties of any kind. We disclaim all express and implied warranties.
We are not liable for any loss of revenue, accounts, rank, virtual currency, virtual items, or other incidental, consequential, indirect or special damages arising from use of our Service.
7. Limitation of Liability
Our maximum liability arising out of or relating to use of our Service is limited to the greater of the amount you paid to us in the past year or $5.
8. Governing Law
These Terms are governed by the laws of [Your State] without regard to conflict of law principles. Any dispute related to our Service must be handled exclusively in state or federal court in [Your City], [Your State].
Any dispute must be resolved through individual binding arbitration. Arbitration precludes class actions or jury trials.
If any provision of these Terms is deemed unlawful, void, or unenforceable, that provision shall be deemed severable and will not affect the validity or enforceability of the remaining provisions.
Our failure to enforce any provision of these Terms will not constitute a waiver of that or any other provision. Any waiver must be in writing and signed by us.
We will not be liable for any failure or delay in performance due to causes beyond our reasonable control, including but not limited to, labor disputes, blockages, embargoes, riots, acts of war, terrorism, acts of God, weather conditions, power failures, or Internet outages.
You may not assign or transfer these Terms or any rights or licenses granted hereunder. We reserve the right to assign our rights and obligations under these Terms.
Third Party Beneficiaries
Except as expressly provided herein, there shall be no third-party beneficiaries to the Terms.
Please contact us at [support email] or [mailing address] with any questions regarding these Terms.
These Terms are effective as of [date] and supersede all previous versions.
This template covers the key sections needed for gaming terms of service. Be sure to customize it to match the specific needs of your gaming platform and offerings. Also have an attorney review your draft before implementation.
FAQs: Crafting Terms of Service for Gaming
What are the benefits of having terms of service for a gaming platform?
Terms of service provide numerous important benefits for a gaming platform including:
- Establishing clear rules of behavior so users understand expectations for using the services
- Setting out prohibited activities so offensive, dangerous, or illegal conduct can be prevented
- Licensing user generated content properly so the platform has needed rights to distribute and showcase it
- Disclaiming warranties to limit liability for issues like downtime, bugs, injuries from use
- Releasing the company from certain kinds of legal claims through limitations of liability
- Providing procedures for termination of accounts that seriously breach the terms
- Requiring arbitration which limits legal risk from class action lawsuits
- Allowing the platform to update policies by including modification clauses
- Choosing proper law and jurisdiction for disputes to be handled
Overall, well-drafted terms create certainty, protect the business, and foster a thriving gaming community.
What happens if I don’t have terms of service?
Not having clear documented terms of service can open up the gaming platform to greater legal risks and disputes. Without terms, users may behave in problematic ways not prohibited by any established rules. Offensive conduct could run rampant without repercussions.
Lack of licensing terms could prevent the company from having rights to share user generated content. Warranties would be implied by default, increasing liability. Users could file lawsuits in any jurisdiction without defined venue provisions.
It becomes very difficult to govern the platform’s community or defend the business legally without comprehensive terms spelling out policies, procedures, and prohibitions. Disorder and toxicity may prevail.
What are some key sections to include in gaming terms of service?
Some of the most important sections to cover in gaming terms of service include:
- Account registration and management policies
- Acceptable use provisions outlining permitted and prohibited behaviors
- Content licensing clauses granting the platform needed rights
- Game rules and anti-cheating policies
- Prohibitions on offensive conduct, illegal activities, etc.
- Disclaimers limiting warranties
- Limitations of liability releasing certain claims
- Account suspension and termination procedures
- Modification clauses allowing policy updates
- Governing law and venue establishing jurisdiction
- Binding arbitration and class action waiver
- Copyright and DMCA takedown policies
Tailor the terms of service to match the specific offerings and community of your particular gaming platform.
Should my gaming terms prohibit cheating?
Absolutely – having clear anti-cheating clauses in the terms of service is highly recommended for gaming platforms. The terms should explicitly prohibit cheating behaviors such as:
- Use of hacks, exploits, aimbots, wallhacks, mod menus
- Manipulation of game data, save files, memory, packets, etc.
- Utilizing automation like bots, scripts, macros, autofire
- Modifying the game client in unauthorized ways
- Accessing unpublished game content or features
- Intentionally tanking rankings to face easier opponents
- Collusion with other players to gain unfair advantage
- Real money transactions (RMT) involving in-game assets
Spelling out such cheats and exploits in detail removes any vagueness around prohibited cheating. Players can then be banned for clear ToS violations if found cheating.
How detailed should prohibited activities be?
It is best to be as specific and detailed as possible in prohibiting inappropriate or harmful activities in the terms of service. Rather than vague blanket statements, explain the exact types of unacceptable behaviors that could occur using the platform.
This reduces ambiguity for users on what counts as violations of rules. For example, rather than just saying “no offensive content”, give examples of specific types like hate speech, threats, bullying, graphic violence, illegal content, etc.
The more clearly and thoroughly unacceptable uses are defined, the more justification platforms have for sanctions against accounts that knowingly engage in those behaviors. Users can also adjust their conduct to avoid crossing lines.
How do I handle user generated content ownership?
The terms of service should clarify intellectual property ownership related to user generated content. In most cases, users will retain copyright and ownership rights over the original content they create, like streams, posts, chat messages, etc.
However, to utilize that content, the gaming platform will need certain license rights from users. The terms should require users grant the gaming company a broad license allowing them to reuse, distribute, modify, display, reproduce UGC non-exclusively.
This allows showcasing content while users maintain underlying rights. DMCA policies for takedown of infringing content should also be included.
Is it important to disclaim warranties in gaming terms?
Absolutely – including disclaimers of both express and implied warranties in the terms of service is very important for limiting a gaming platform’s legal liability.
The terms should state the services are provided “as is” and disclaim any promises around uptime, accuracy of information, safety of user interactions, freedom from bugs/defects/viruses, suitability for a particular purpose, timely handling of issues, non-infringement, etc.
Disclaiming warranties protects the company from lawsuits claiming the platform did not live up to explicit or implied promises and claims arising from use of the defective services.
Should I require arbitration through terms of service?
Requiring individual binding arbitration is favored by many gaming platforms as a way to prevent class action lawsuits, which can impose major costs and risks.
However, arbitration clauses require very careful drafting to hold up legally. Simply adding a generic arbitration provision may not be enforceable. Consider:
- Arbitration Org selection
- Location convenience
- Cost allocations
- Survival of clause
- Explicit class action waiver
- Allowing injunctive relief in court
- Carve outs for small claims
Given the complexities, it is very advisable to have an attorney review any arbitration clauses in a gaming platform’s terms to maximize enforceability.
What’s the best way to notify users of changes to terms?
When the gaming platform needs to modify its terms of service, best practices for notifying users include:
- Emailing all registered users directly to explain the changes.
- Posting clear and conspicuous notifications via the platform itself.
- Requiring users to re-accept the updated terms upon next login.
- Maintaining records/receipts of users consenting to new terms.
- Providing advance notice before changes take effect.
- Linking to the updated terms prominently on the gaming platform’s website.
- Explaining changes clearly rather than just posting the complete modified terms.
Ensure users have proper notifications and the opportunity to consent to material term changes.
Can I just copy terms from other gaming sites?
Outright copying significant portions of another gaming platform’s terms of service could constitute copyright infringement. However, it is fine to reference trusted gaming sites’ terms when drafting your own customized set of terms.
Review multiple examples to see standard clauses and sections other platforms have adopted. But be sure to craft terms tailored to your own site’s offerings and needs rather than just duplicating another’s. Consult an attorney for legal review.
Should I include an indemnification clause?
Indemnification clauses are commonly included in gaming terms of service to further limit liability. They require users to defend, indemnify and hold harmless the gaming company from any third party claims or damages arising from the user’s misconduct or violation of the terms. This shifts liability to misbehaving users.
How long should my terms of service be?
Gaming terms do not need to be excessively long. Strive for clear, concise terms whenever possible. Cover key issues thoroughly but concisely. Lengthy, legalistic terms may deter users. But short, vague terms leave you exposed. Aim for sufficient but straightforward terms.
Should I require parental consent for minor users?
If your gaming platform allows users under 18, consider requiring verifiable parental consent to register accounts and acceptance of the terms on the minor’s behalf. This provides an additional layer of protection regarding minors.
How often should I update my terms of service?
Aim to review your gaming terms of service at least annually. If no changes are needed, keep the existing terms. But revisit regularly to ensure polices remain current and address new offerings.
Can users participate in legal disputes?
To prevent interference, include a clause barring users from participating in disputes unless required to by law. State users waive rights to voluntary participation in any enforcement actions related to the terms.
Should I include a severability clause?
Yes, severability clauses are recommended stating if any provision is invalidated, the rest of the terms still apply. This prevents the entire terms from being voided if one clause is challenged.
How do I make sure users see the terms?
Require acceptance during account registration. Link to terms prominently from platform homepage and menu. Periodically re-direct users to re-accept updated terms. Don’t bury terms.
Should terms be in multiple languages?
For global platforms, provide translated versions of your terms in all languages natively supported by the gaming platform to maximize enforceability across regions.
How can I make my terms of service more enforceable?
Some tips to maximize enforceability of a gaming platform’s terms include:
- Require express, affirmative consent to the terms during account registration before access is granted. Don’t use pre-checked boxes.
- Include conspicuous notice about important terms like arbitration clauses and class action waivers so users cannot claim unfair surprise later.
- Maintain clear records of consent by users to the current terms of service. Store signed copies and proof of clicks.
- Have periodic re-acceptances of updated terms built into the user experience flow. Don’t just post updated terms passively.
- Do not bury arbitration clauses deep in dense terms. Call them out prominently and individually to users to increase notice.
- Draft in plain, sufficiently large language avoiding legal jargon when possible to promote comprehension.
- Support translations of the terms in all native languages of your gaming platform and localize terms where advisable.
- Periodically audit that terms of service links/access are still working and prominently available throughout the platform.
- Consult localized outside counsel to review terms for compliance with laws in jurisdictions you operate.
Following such best practices when implementing and maintaining terms helps support enforceability.
What should I do if a provision is challenged as unfair or unenforceable?
If a specific provision in your gaming terms of service is challenged as unfair or unenforceable, here are some tips:
- Consult your legal counsel immediately for advice on responding to the challenge.
- Consider agreeing to modify the provision to make it compliant rather than fighting to keep it as-is at risk of the entire terms being voided.
- Negotiate a modification that still reasonably protects the gaming platform’s interests if possible.
- Research the case law around enforceability of similar terms to estimate your risks.
- Assess whether you have strong enough notice and consent to support enforceability of the contested clause.
- Weigh the PR implications of fighting an unpopular clause versus modifying it.
- Explore whether including a severability clause in the terms changes the calculus.
- If modifying, promptly update the terms accordingly and notify users.
Handled carefully with legal guidance, addressing contested terms can mitigate risks of the whole terms being overturned.
What steps can I take to comply with privacy laws through my terms?
To support privacy law compliance, gaming terms of service should:
- Address how user data is collected, used and shared transparently. Avoid vague statements.
- Note compliance with laws like the GDPR, COPPA, CCPA covering data subject rights and handling of their information.
- Clarify the platform’s security practices around user data. Disclose any breaches properly.
- Ensure legal basis for data activities like analytics, ads, recommendations (consent, legitimate interests, etc).
- Allow user deletion rights and means to access/export their data.
- Only collect necessary data for platform functioning and require consent for optional programs like research studies.
- Support age gates for any data collection from minors and parental consent flows where applicable.
- Mask IPs when possible and use aggregate data where adequate to minimize collection of direct identifiers.
- Adopt mechanisms supporting user rights like data access requests, deletion, opt-outs.
Aligning terms of service with comprehensive privacy policies and diligent engineering practices supports compliance.