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Published: June 13, 2023

Written by: Stefan Velikov

  • Redditors protest the platform’s new decisions by depriving it of ad revenue
  • Overwatch and CS:GO are among the many subreddits that went dark
  • Curiously, r/Gaming and r/leagueoflegends remained open, prompting much criticism

Reddit plans to charge third-party app creators to access the site’s API, prompting platform-wide protests from users, who decided to not use the website for at least 48 hours.

Gamers Protest

Reddit is one of the biggest online social media platforms, which explains why many of its subreddits are dedicated to gaming. However, following the platform’s decision to charge third-party app creators to access the site’s API, thousands of communities opted to go private on June 11 in protest against Reddit’s plans. 

This included many gaming-related subreddits such as r/Overwatch, r/CS:GO, and so on, all of whom were kept track of by Reddark, a website built specifically for the protest. The website even hosted a Twitch live stream tracking the event, with over 12 000 concurrent viewers watching it at one point.

At the time of writing of this article, many subreddits are still set to private but will continue operations on June 13. However, many more have decided to stay in their current state until the social media platform addresses their demands. Hopes are the company will walk back its decision to charge third-party developers to access data critical for the apps to survive.

According to Subreddit Stats, 11 of the top 100 subreddits are gaming related. Nine of them have decided to close their doors for at least two days, affecting a combined total of 54.3 million users. This would result in a large loss of revenue for Reddit, as ads won’t be displayed. 

Interestingly, some of the largest gaming subreddits, namely the aptly names r/Gaming, as well as r/leagueoflegends, have remained open during the protest. The former’s moderator team received a lot of backlash following their decision to remain open due to ongoing game-related presentations. The moderators also believed the page’s closure would not have a meaningful impact. 

Meanwhile, the r/leagueoflegends moderator team has not addressed why the page is opting out of the protest. Users of the subreddit which hosts more than six million people, have only been left to speculate. However, many of the comments discussing the situation have been swiftly removed by the moderation team, which possibly reveals their stance on the matter.

The website-wide protest did not come as a surprise to many, as it has been prepared for weeks, ever since Reddit announced on April 17 its plans to change the terms of service around data access and third-party apps. The platform’s CEO and cofounder Steve Huffman addressed the Reddit community on June 9, explaining the company’s reason to do this is because it can “no longer subsidize commercial entities that require large-scale data use,” pointing out that Reddit needs to be a “self-sustaining business”.

If Reddit does indeed go through with the changes, despite the wide backlash it is currently receiving, third-party apps, such as Apollo, Reddit is Fun, and Sync will see huge operating costs with all three apps used by millions of users each month. Apollo’s creator Christian Selig already announced that the service would be shutting down before the new terms come into effect on July 1. 

While the outcome of the platform-wide protest is still unknown, it seems clear that a majority of users have voiced their opinions and concerns over Reddit’s plans. At the time of writing this article, the company has yet to give any sign that it would change its current course of action. This may result in hundreds if not even thousands of subreddits remaining set to private until Reddit addresses their protests.

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