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December 21, 2023

Legal Relationships Between Partners of the Esports Ecosystem and Turkish Esports Federation

1.     Introduction

Esports has a complex structure that includes multiple subjects like other sports branches.  As we always say, esports actors have a unique structure. Turkish Esports Federation(“TESFED”) which is one of the significant partners of the esports ecosystem has close relationships with game producers, esports clubs, and esports players. At this point, the relationships that TESFED will establish between ecosystem partners with its neutral approach are really important.

2.     Relationships Between Esports Ecosystem Partners

As it is known, digital games that provide certain elements and popularity take a step towards becoming an esports branch. Apart from other sports branches, there are digital game producers that have the rights of the digital games within the esports ecosystem.  Legal-entity companies that are game producers have legal rights such as moral rights, economic rights, or public recitation within the scope of the Law on Intellectual Property Rights (“FSEK”). For instance, copyrights which are one of the types of financial rights of game producer companies that the producers able to decide on which platforms the game can be played and on which platforms it will be shown. When the games are copied without permission or played on the platforms without permission, these situations are interpreted as violations of the specified rights.

For these reasons it can be said that the game producers are the main owners of the leagues in line with their digital game rights. Elements such as the principles to be applied in the leagues and the conditions of the tournament are determined by the game producers and they have many sanctions including penalties arising from the league’s rules to apply to the teams and esports players.

Within this context, TESFED has a regulatory and supervisory duty that provides to grow esports capacity and spread popularity in Turkey. Therefore, it plays the role of a rooftop in the esports ecosystem that hosts multiple game producers. As we aforementioned in our previous articles, when we think esports is a football match, the owner of the field where the game will be played is TESFED even if the ball belongs to the game producer. What is meant to be emphasized here is that the connection between game producer companies and TESFED is vital to the esports ecosystem. After negotiating with TESFED and ecosystem stakeholders, the issues that will not pause or regress the ecosystem, but which must be regulated, action should be taken in this direction. For instance, the ethical protection of esports players which are the weakest category between actors can be achieved by TESFED. At the same time, if the control mechanisms are developed, penalties and sanctions may be stipulated independently of the game producers’ companies.

Esports clubs which are one of the significant actors of the esports ecosystem have problems due to the game producer’s power. A lot of esports clubs has still issues making a profit due to game producer companies that have rights to regulate rules including how to share the revenues from the leagues. Therefore, moves such as increasing the value of the league and strengthening the esports clubs in line with the steps to be taken by TESFED can play a critical role to make the commercial relationship reasonable between game producer companies and esports clubs. Especially as we have mentioned in our previous articles, the betting factor has great importance for both TESFED and esports clubs. This income channel will not only enlarge the ecosystem but will be the area where the game producer companies will have the least voice.

In terms of explanations regarding the legal status of esports players, it is necessary to briefly mention the connection between TESFED and esports players. TESFED is currently carrying out licensing procedures to ensure that esports players become professional players. In this context, the solution-oriented approach of TESFED as a public authority is important to solve problems such as legal disputes between esports players and clubs or to solve issues arising from the rules imposed by game producer companies on esports teams using their financial rights.

3.     Conclusion

With this article, the status of TESFED as a sports federation, and the relationship between the main stakeholders in the esports ecosystem is mentioned and important steps that might be taken in the future were interpreted. Establishment of mechanisms to be put into practice in order to ensure the survival of esports teams, taking control of the economic structure, and taking into account the future of esports players have been evaluated as the issues to be taken action by TESFED.



Duygu Doğan Şahiner

Duygu Doğan Şahiner