Marvel Rivals early access contract bans bad reviews: Is it true?

NetEase is preparing to have out playtest codes for Marvel Rivals and it expects strong reviews, at least in part because it allegedly requires them by contract.

Marvel Rivals, the upcoming 6v6 team battler from NetEase, has gained quite a bit of hype since its reveal. The closed alpha test held in May 2024 gave fans a glimpse of what Marvel Rivals offers. It also revealed a surprisingly deep roster of 39 characters so far, and more will likely come as development continues.

The studio reportedly offered access codes to several influencers for the Marvel Rivals playtest, with some questionable restrictions therein. These restrictions have led to fans worrying about the state of Marvel Rivals and allegations of NetEase censoring negative feedback. 

Is NetEase censoring negative reviews of Marvel Rivals?

NetEase seemingly bars any negative talk, or even unfavorable comparisons, regarding Marvel Rivals in its early access contract with streamers,

Twitch streamer Brandon “A_Seagull” Larned discussed seeking access to the Marvel Rivals playtest. According to A_Seagull, NetEase reportedly offered multiple creators access to the playtest, but only if they signed a contract. This contract allegedly included a clause that would bar them from speaking negatively about the game.

The scope of these requirements is broad and the language is very vague. It’s not just negative reviews that are banned in Marvel Rivals’ contract. Even unflattering comparisons with a game like Overwatch 2 could violate its terms.

Other streamers responded to A_Seagull’s tweet and corroborated his claim, discussing concerns over the language and NetEase’s slowness in addressing concerns. Some creators avoid signing these contracts altogether.

These stipulations are standard in sponsorship deals, but a playtest for a video game is a different beast altogether. 

While the requirement does not automatically mean Marvel Rivals is a bad product, it has fans worrying otherwise. After all, if a product is good, fans wonder why a company would specifically bar negative feedback regarding the game. 

Update: NetEase has responded to the allegations and claims it was a “miscommunication” and that the contract will be revised for every creator.

Notably, feedback from creators who joined the closed playtest has been largely positive. However, the details disclosed by Lerner on the alleged contract put a question mark on these impressions. Fans may have to wait a bit longer to hear unbiased reviews of Marvel Rivals, though revisions to the contract may quash some of these concerns.

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Written by Gab Hernandez

Gab Hernandez has a particular love for video games that give players control over the narrative direction, such as Divinity: Original Sin 2 and Disco Elysium. Gab spends just as much time playing games as they do gushing about them online to anyone who will listen. Their work has also been seen on TheGamer, Gfinity, and Wargamer, and you can follow them on Twitter / X at @HardlyWorkinGab.

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