Turner “Tfue” Tenney, one of the best-known Fortnite stars on Twitch and YouTube, is suing his management organization FaZe Clan over what his attorney describes as a “grossly oppressive, onerous, and one-sided” gamer contract.
The allegations in Tfue’s complaint have sparked a lot a discussion online and drawn attention to the contractual relationship between young talents in the esports/streaming industry and the organizations that manage them.
The attention comes at a time that esports revenues are rising and expected to reach $1 billion by 2021. The fact that many of the talents driving the industry are young is a major issue at the center of the ongoing scrutiny of the industry.
“The time is now for content creators, gamers and streamers to stop being taken advantage of through oppressive, unfair and illegal agreements,” Freedman said, according to THR. “The significant legal actions taken today will be a wakeup call that this behavior will no longer be tolerated. The gaming community deserves a safe environment that allows gamers the freedom to control their own careers.”
What we know about Tfue’s lawsuit
The 21-year-old professional gamer Turner Tenney, popularly known as Tfue, is accusing FaZe Clan of violating California law and the Talent Agency Act by using allegedly illegal gamer contracts to restrict his ability to explore new deals, forcing him to pass on more lucrative brand deals due to conflict of interest, and refusing to pay him his share of sponsorship earnings.
Tenney, who has more than 10 million subscribers on YouTube and 5.5 million Instagram followers, claims that under the deal he signed with FaZe Clan in April 2018, he only gets 20% of the revenue from branded videos published on YouTube, Twitch, and social media, and about half of the revenue from appearances and touring.
Tenney is also accusing FaZe Clan of having encouraged him to take alcohol and gamble before he turned 21. He also alleges that he was pressured to do dangerous stunts for videos.
The complaint filed by Tenney through attorney Bryan Freedman on Monday also argues that organizations that act as agents for talents in the esports and streaming industry should also be regulated like the rest of the entertainment industry.
“In no uncertain terms, these gamers are artists, entertainers and content creators,” writes Tfue’s attorney Bryan Freedman. “Because the esports industry is so new… there are no real organizations such as unions or guilds to help protect the content creators/streamers that drive the industry.
“Most of these content creator/streamers are also very young,” the complaint continued. “As a result, these young content creator/streamers are susceptible to being taken advantage of and exploited.”
Freedman described Tenney’s gamer agreement with FazeClan as “grossly oppressive, onerous, and one-sided.”
Tenney’s suit is asking the court to terminate his agreement with FaZe Clan. He is also asking for fair payment and punitive damages.
FaZe Clan responds
Faze Clan has denied the accusation that it took up to 80 percent of Tfue’s earnings, saying it has not made any money from Tfue’s tournament earnings or revenue from Twitch and YouTube.
According to FaZe Clan, it has only made $60,000 from its business relationship with Tfue.
FaZe Clan’s response to today’s press article regarding Tfue: pic.twitter.com/eVdRVMnRpl
— FaZe Clan (@FaZeClan) May 20, 2019
In a follow-up statement, FaZe Clan admitted there is a clause in their contract with Tfue that states FaZe Clan can take up to 80 per cent of Tfue’s brand deals on social media platforms but said it has not claimed any revenues based on that clause, and that all their new contracts now have clauses giving a maximum 20 per cent of those earnings to FaZe Clan.
A follow-up from FaZe Clan on today's unfortunate situation. pic.twitter.com/qm6sK8v88B
— FaZe Clan (@FaZeClan) May 21, 2019