Elder Scrolls Online Nondisclosure Agreement

Soon we’ll be able to play The Elder Scrolls Online, the highly anticipated MMORPG (massively multiplayer online roleplaying game). The game is slated for a Spring 2014 release, but is currently undergoing beta testing for all systems (PC, Mac, PS4, Xbox One). By its very nature, a beta test is the final stage of testing a new game before its commercial release. Players fortunate enough to be selected for Elder Scrolls Online beta testing will not only get a sneak peek at the game, but will provide valuable insight for ZeniMax Online Studios, the game’s developer. Beta testing allows ZeniMax to solicit feedback and observe player interactions in the world of ESO. Beta testers have an important role in making the Elder Scrolls Online the absolute best game possible.

Elder Scrolls Online Nondisclosure Agreement

elder scrolls online nondisclosure agreementIf a player is chosen to be a beta tester, an Elder Scrolls Online nondisclosure agreement must be digitally signed before being allowed to take part in the game. This agreement runs close to 3,000 words long, and is written in formal legalese. If you want, you can read the entire NDA here on the official Elder Scrolls Online website.

Despite the fact that most of us are guilty of shrugging off terms of use for various software, it’s important that beta testers understand what is being agreed to when the Elder Scrolls Online nondisclosure agreement is signed. Without slogging through the entire document, the crux of the NDA comes down to three points:

  1. You can’t talk about anything you see in the game.
  2. You can’t write about anything you see in the game.
  3. You can’t even tell anyone that you’ve been chosen to be a beta tester.

Why So Serious?

The Elder Scrolls Online nondisclosure agreement is good for the game, good for the company, and ultimately good for the players. ESO is still in development, and things may very well change before the game is officially released. In our Internet Age, information (and misinformation) travels fast. If beta testers start revealing “spoilers” or discussing game elements on forums and blogs, it could hinder the game’s development and harm the Elder Scrolls Online overall success. Also, if beta testers were publicly known, ZeniMax competitors could farm players for inside knowledge of the game. In the end, the NDA needs to be strict.

Consequences Of Breaking The Nondisclosure Agreement

It’s safe to say that the vast majority of beta testers want to see the Elder Scrolls Online succeed, and will happily abide by the terms of the nondisclosure agreement. Even so, the NDA makes it clear that there are consequences for breaking the agreement:

Remedies of ZeniMax

The parties agree that Your obligations pursuant to this Agreement are of a unique character and that the material breach of any obligation by You provided in this Agreement will cause ZeniMax irreparable injury.  Therefore, ZeniMax shall be entitled to immediate equitable relief to prevent such injury and/or damage.  All remedies hereunder, and all remedies provided at law, shall be deemed cumulative and are not exclusive.

Not being a lawyer, I can’t tell you exactly what this means. At the very least, I imagine that players who violate the Elder Scrolls Online nondisclosure agreement will be booted off the beta. Beyond that, who knows? ZeniMax has a reputation in the gaming world of being aggressive when it comes to legal matters. Back in 2011, ZeniMax took legal action against the developers of Minecraft for copyright infringement (the Minecraft incident has since been resolved amicably as evidenced by the new Skyrim Minecraft crossover). The following year, Bethesda (owned by ZeniMax) had a cease-and-desist letter sent to the owner of a website giving away free Fallout posters.  Suffice it to say, I wouldn’t want to rattle the cage of the ZeniMax/Bethesda legal team, so my advice would be to abide by the nondisclosure agreement.

Final Thoughts

So what do you think about the Elder Scrolls Online nondisclosure agreement? Does the NDA make sense, or is the document too strict? Share your opinions in the Speak Your Mind section below. Also, you can still signup for the ESO beta test here.


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Shane Scarbrough
Shane Scarbrough

Shane Scarbrough is the founder of the Skyrim Fansite. He's a business owner, video game journalist, and role playing game aficionado. When he’s not working he enjoys reading, writing, and playing video games. He's currently on his third playthrough of Skyrim, and is playing as a Templar in The Elder Scrolls Online. You can find Shane on Google+ and FaceBook.

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