The season of game company gaffes continues with NetEase apologizing for a Marvel Rivals preview contract that asked streamers not to make 'subjective negative reviews of the game'

Marvel Rivals jumping toward screen out of portal
(Image credit: NetEase)

Publisher NetEase has walked back a controversial "non-disparagement" requirement for streamers and video makers previewing its upcoming hero shooter Marvel Rivals. Just one day after prominent streamer Brandon "Seagull" Larned criticized the contract on Twitter, NetEase made a statement on the game's Discord and to PCGamesN that it would be amending the contract.

Marvel Rivals is an upcoming 6v6 hero shooter reminiscent of Overwatch, but with all those superhero guys from the comics. Rivals is beginning its first closed alpha playtest, with a number of content creators previewing the game as part of the test. The offending clause of the contract alpha participants were required to sign reads as follows:

"Non-Disparagement: The Content Creator agrees not to make any public statements or engage in discussions that are detrimental to the reputation of the game. This includes, but is not limited to:

a. Making disparaging or satirical comments about any game-related material, such as game features, characters, or music.

b. Engaging in malicious comparisons with competitors or belittling the gameplay or differences of "Marvel Rivals" or providing subjective negative reviews of the game."

The prohibition of certain types of subjective opinion really gets me, but even satirical comments would have you on thin ice? Larned took to Twitter to criticize the overly restrictive terms, drawing negative attention to Marvel Rivals. NetEase was much quicker to react in a substantive way than any of the other embattled companies we've seen step in it recently, promising a new, less restrictive contract for streamers.

"We are aware that there are inappropriate and misleading terms in the commitment regarding sharing non-disparagement content," a NetEase representative told the Discord server for playtest participants."We sincerely apologize for the miscommunication and your unpleasant experiences!"

The rep stated that NetEase would be following up with new contract language for those taking part in the test, while the company's statement to PCGamesN referred to the contract as a "draft" version. Both statements promised more open communication and closer collaboration with content creators in the future.

Credit where it's due for NetEase: it's been taking days of popular backlash over game company missteps to see stuff like this reversed: see Tarkov and Helldivers' days of rage over unpopular changes to those games. There's definitely a kernel of something reasonable to a clause like this: an understandable protective attitude toward a work-in-progress being shown to the public for the first time, and a need for players to manage expectations for an alpha release. Forbidding genuine criticism and honest reactions, though, was never going to be a feasible ask of those previewing the game. 

Associate Editor

Ted has been thinking about PC games and bothering anyone who would listen with his thoughts on them ever since he booted up his sister's copy of Neverwinter Nights on the family computer. He is obsessed with all things CRPG and CRPG-adjacent, but has also covered esports, modding, and rare game collecting. When he's not playing or writing about games, you can find Ted lifting weights on his back porch.