Streamlabs Controversy: Spotlight on What is Happening [+ What it all Means for a Streamer]

The Streamlabs controversy kicked off in November 2021. They were charged with allegations of flagrant plagiarism, and unethical business practices from fellow streaming tool developers. They were also charged by Twitch streamers, like Imane ‘Pokimane’ Anys, for using their photos for promotional content, without their consent.

Following this cascade of events, they even dropped OBS from their name.

On December 24, 2021, OBS and Streamlabs reached an agreement to “commit to long-term collaboration.”

In this article, we will take a look at the history of Streamlabs, analyze the allegations of Streamlabs controversy in detail, and understand what this all means for a streamer.

What is Streamlabs controversy?

On November 17, Streamlabs’ deck of cards started falling as Streamlabs vs Lightstream flagged off. Lightstream alleged plagiarism on Streamlabs with the launch of Streamlabs Studio.

Streamlabs vs Lightstream - Lightstream Tweet
Streamlabs vs Lightstream – source: Lightstream Tweet

The sequence of events was such that after Lightstream, even OBS, Elgato, and other streaming tool developers followed suit in exposing Streamlabs’ malpractices.

This led to outrage by the amazing streaming community, that lined up in defense of the other players. Streamers like Pokimane also talked about how Streamlabs was using her pictures for promotion, without seeking her permission. Many streamers vowed to never use Streamlabs again for their needs.

The history of Streamlabs

Streamlabs is a California-based software company founded in 2014. It has over the years created various software but is mainly known for its broadcasting software. It lets users have the ability to record and live stream their computer screen on social media.

Streamlabs interestingly started as “TwitchAlerts”, a service that allows real-time notifications for your stream viewers. In addition, it was a backend for giving donations. They had to rebrand due to having no affiliation with Twitch.

Streamlabs have since then grown so much that in 2019 they were bought by Logitech for $89 Million in cash and $20 Million in Logitech stock. Also called SLOBS, this software took a center stage for being more user-friendly for beginners.

Streamlabs controversy – a timeline

January 1, 2014

Lightstream Studio

Released

January 1, 2014
May 15, 2017

Streamdeck

Elgato releases “Streamdeck”

May 15, 2017
May 30, 2020

Streamlabs Deck

Streamlabs releases “Streamdeck” later renamed to “Deck”

May 30, 2020
November 16, 2021

Streamlabs Studio

Streamlabs releases “Streamlabs Studio”

November 16, 2021
November 16, 2021

Streamlabs controversy

Streamlabs gets called out by various companies including Elgato, Lightstream, and OBS for copying their features

November 16, 2021
November 18, 2021

Streamlabs apology

Streamlabs apologizes for copying the website by saying it was made of placeholders. They also drop OBS from its name

November 18, 2021
December 24, 2021

OBS – Streamlabs agreement

OBS and Streamlabs reach an agreement to commit to long-term collaboration

December 24, 2021

How the controversy started: Streamlabs vs Lightstream

The start of this controversy was triggered by their new product, Streamlabs Studio. The prime objective of this software was to provide tools for console gamers to stream their games straight from the console without requiring the involvement of PCs. Now the release of this app itself did not make their users outraged.

The whole cascade of events started when the CEO of another broadcasting company, Lightstream aimed at console gamers came out on Twitter against Streamlabs. The tweet showed how blatantly Streamlabs had copied Lightstream’s home page.

Streamlabs vs Lightstream - Lightstream vs Streamlabs Studio Homepage
Streamlabs vs Lightstream – Lightstream vs Streamlabs Studio Homepage

This is just a small snippet of the picture showing how similar both pages were, at many places Streamlabs did not even bother to change the wording of the sentences. Even the reviews showed were copied almost word to word!

Streamlabs vs Lightstream - Lightstream vs Streamlabs Studio Reviews
Streamlabs vs Lightstream – Lightstream vs Streamlabs Studio Reviews

In my opinion, both Streamlabs vs Lightstream versions seem to be fake reviews, however, that is still no excuse for plagiarism.

Streamlabs’ response did not satisfy many. They basically saying that the page was a production error that was never meant to be in the finalized webpage and was merely a placeholder text.

Streamlabs vs Lightstream - Streamlabs response to Lightstream allegations
Streamlabs vs Lightstream – Streamlabs response to Lightstream allegations

This response just added fuel to the fire, making people more furious. According to the community, this did not look like a genuine mistake and the reply was presented in a very casual way.

This backlash turned out to be Streamlabs’ biggest nightmare. Other companies who were till now silent about it also came out saying how Streamlabs had blatantly copied them, basically opening pandora’s box of plagiarism and dishonesty.

One of the most powerful companies that came out against Streamlabs in this controversy was OBS.

Streamlabs vs OBS controversy

Streamlabs was formerly known as StreamlabsOBS but decided to drop the word OBS from the title. This happened because OBS came to the fore exposing they hadn’t given permission to Streamlabs to use the word OBS in their name.

Comparing Streamlabs vs OBS, unlike Streamlabs which is a paid software, OBS is an open-source software meaning anyone can use their code and republish it for free. Streamlabs was built on the same code.

The problem was that Streamlabs used OBS in their title. Many people thought that Streamlabs and OBS had a connection or an affiliation with each other which was not the case at all. This fact came as a surprise to a lot of people including big streamers who were using it for years!

The worst part is that Streamlabs paid Google so that whenever someone searches OBS, Streamlabs comes up first. Combined with the fact that OBS themselves had asked Streamlabs to drop OBS from their title, and instead of removing it Streamlabs had gone ahead and trademarked the word StreamlabsOBS – just added fuel to the fire.

Streamlabs vs Elgato controversy

As if the damage done by Streamlabs vs Lightstream and OBS vs Streamlabs weren’t enough, Streamlabs vs Elgato came to the fore. This just showed how Streamlabs didn’t leave anyone from this mess.

Streamlabs vs Elgato started in 2017 when Elgato released their product called Stream Deck, a physical device that is a staple in almost every big streamer’s setup. Fast forward to 2020 Streamlabs releases an app that does the same thing. Streamlabs however cleverly named it “DECK”. But it still goes to show how Streamlabs was basically testing the patience of their fellow streaming tool developers, who they continued ripping off.

Streamlabs vs Elgato: Elgato Stream Deck vs Streamlabs Deck
Streamlabs vs Elgato: Elgato Stream Deck vs Streamlabs Deck

Streamlabs vs other streaming tools controversy

There are many other streaming tool developers which have outed Streamlabs since the controversy started.

Streamlabs vs original streaming tool
Streamlabs vs original streaming tool

This expose was really needed. But, at the same time, it damaged the image of Streamlabs in a very big way. Streamlabs was so careless that according to a Twitter user and designer Shawn P, Streamlabs was thinking about how they can trick people into accidentally signing up to Streamlabs.

Shawn's Tweet against Streamlabs
Shawn’s tweet against Streamlabs – source: some ordinary gamers

How Streamlabs responded to these allegations

After all of this backlash and hellfire, Streamlabs finally responded saying they will be removing OBS from their name. They also informed that their code is publicly available – a lesser-known fact even in the streaming community!

Streamlabs response to OBS
Streamlabs response to OBS

Streamlabs controversy: what is happening now?

The Streamlabs vs OBS incident made headway on December 25, 2021, as OBS and Streamlabs announced they’re now planning to work together for the benefit of the streaming community.

However, Streamlabs is still facing heat, since they’ve not responded to any of the other allegations. This whole resolution incident seems like a patch job. Streamers, of course, are not happy with this ending!

OBS and Streamlabs to work together - source: OBS Tweet
Streamlabs vs OBS: OBS and Streamlabs to work together – source: OBS Tweet

Streamlabs controversy: streamers reaction

The community still remains outraged to a large extent. Many famous streamers have publicly said they’re leaving Streamlabs for other alternatives, never to come back again.

HasanAbi

HasanAbi, a Twitch streamer with over 1.6 Million followers, tweeted saying he will never use Streamlabs again if they don’t resolve the matter quickly.

Hasanabi Response to Streamlabs

Pokimane

Pokimane, another Twitch streamer who boasts over 8.4 Million followers, said that she will ask Streamlabs to take her face off their platform and change her donation service if they do not act accordingly.

Pokimane response to Streamlabs

Jacksepticeye

Jacksepticeye, a YouTube giant having more than 25 Million subscribers and also a Twitch streamer, said that he had no idea that OBS and Streamlabs were not together.

Jacksepticeye response to Streamlabs

In closing: what it all means for a streamer?

While Streamlabs continues to weave a web to recover from this controversy, it’s best to follow an ethical path as a streamer.

If you are a streamer, go for alternatives to Streamlabs that are original ideas. Some are even created by small developers and will give them a much-needed boost. What’s more? Your community will respect you even more for it. And at the end of the day, that’s what streamers live for!

TL;DR: Below is a snapshot of the Streamlabs controversy.

Streamlabs controversy timeline
A brief history of the controversy and its origins