Marvel Rivals Faces Backlash Over Restrictive Playtest Contract

Marvel Rivals' Closed Alpha playtest contract sparks controversy among content creators and players due to its restrictive "Non-Disparagement" clause. NetEase Games responds to backlash, promising to revise the contract terms to allow for constructive criticism and suggestions.

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Nitish Verma
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Marvel Rivals Faces Backlash Over Restrictive Playtest Contract

Marvel Rivals Faces Backlash Over Restrictive Playtest Contract

Marvel Rivals, a highly anticipated hero shooter developed by NetEase, has launched its Closed Alpha, but the game's playtest contract has sparked controversy among content creators and players. The contract includes a "Non-Disparagement" clause that prohibits players from making negative comments about the game, including satirical remarks, and restricts comparisons to other games if deemed "malicious."

Why this matters: The controversy surrounding Marvel Rivals' playtest contract highlights the growing concern over the gaming industry's standard practices, particularly in the early test phases, and raises questions about the authenticity of reviews and whether content creators are being silenced by restrictive agreements. This issue has broader implications for the gaming industry, as it could set a precedent for how developers interact with content creators and influence public opinion.

The restrictive contract was brought to light by former Overwatch pro and streamer Brandon "Seagull" Larned, who shared it on Twitter/X. The Non-Disparagement clause prevents signatories from making negative comments, satirical remarks, or comparisons to other games that could be deemed "malicious." Streamers are being asked to sign the contract simply to gain access to the game, without being paid to promote Marvel Rivals.

Seagull expressed his disappointment with the contract, stating, "People have signed off what are basically sponsored or hashtag ad streams, and people are signing this without reading it just to get a game key." He announced during a May 11 livestream that he would no longer play Marvel Rivals in protest of the contract's terms. Other prominent streamers, such as 39daph, XQc, and Shroud, have also voiced concerns about the strict terms.

The wide scope of the Non-Disparagement clause has raised concerns that it will stifle legitimate criticism of the game. Responses to Seagull's post have been overwhelmingly negative, with many feeling that the contract restricts their freedom to provide honest feedback. Some streamers, like Dokibird, have already made jokes about the game and provided satirical commentary, potentially violating the contract.

In response to the backlash, NetEase Games stated that the contract was a "draft version" and that they will revise the agreement terms. Via the Marvel Rivals Discord server, they said, "Our stand is absolutely open for both suggestions and criticisms to improve our game, and our mission is to make Marvel Rivals better satisfy players by those constructive suggestions." The revised terms will go live once both parties have discussed the matter and agreed upon a solution.

Marvel Rivals, which features 19 playable characters including Iron Man and Spider-Man across two announced maps, Tokyo 2099 and Asgard, currently has no release date. The Closed Alpha, running until May 21, marks the first step in a lengthy development process. The controversy surrounding the game's creator contracts has sparked a broader debate about the gaming industry's standard practices, particularly in the early test phases, and raised questions about the authenticity of reviews and whether content creators are being silenced by restrictive agreements.

Key Takeaways

  • Marvel Rivals' Closed Alpha playtest contract sparks controversy among content creators and players.
  • The contract's "Non-Disparagement" clause prohibits negative comments, satirical remarks, and comparisons to other games.
  • Streamers are asked to sign the contract without payment to access the game, raising concerns about authenticity of reviews.
  • Prominent streamers, including Seagull, 39daph, XQc, and Shroud, voice concerns about the contract's strict terms.
  • NetEase Games responds to backlash, promising to revise the contract terms to allow for constructive criticism.