An NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) is a document which helps protect confidental information or information that may be deemed sensitive so in order for that information to stay confidental between two or more parties this document is signed. Some examples of when an NDA is used include; Dicussing IP (Intellectual Property), business proposals or protecting sensitive information such as a businesses financial information or new releases etc.
The NDA is basically where the party signing agrees that he will not share any information to anybody unless it is said otherwise within the contract. The NDA is a legal binding document and if broken then the business or individual who broke the NDA can be taken to court and sued for damages. These kind of documents tend to be very broad to enhance the coverage so that nothing is missed and every instance has been thought of. NDA’s can be very general but on some occasion I would commend that these are tweaked depending on the circumstance as some documents can not have a ‘one shoe fits all’ policy. The NDA should mimic the value of the asset that you are trying to protect.
An instance in which you may need to sign an NDA could be if you were to be a Beta tester. A lot of these documents tend to disclose that you must not talk about for example, game mechanics or particular assets of the game. This also means that you shouldn’t take screen shots or even talk about in game items because in doing so you are breaching your contract. There are even NDA’s for individuals who do app and video game reviews (Here is a link to a template document for that instance).
Some forums (Example 1)(Example 2) even say that you are not allowed to say that you have been selected for beta, you are not allowed to name other individuals who have been selected for beta, you can not link beta content, you can not talk about information regarding the game unless its been talked about by the developer first and you are not allowed to give comments which could be seen as leaking beta information. Otherwise, you are breaking the NDA and will have your comment removed or even have legal action taken against you.
There are many negatives for the company if the NDA is breached such as people may judge the game on the alpha alone and be put off, they might judge early choices which may be changed later on in the game such as a game mechanic. When a game gets an early release due to someone distributing the game before it is finished, this can end awfully for the creators as an unfinished game will have its bugs and flaws. With these kind of things ended up on torrent sites, it makes people obtain the game for free so the company would be losing a lot of revenue plus being known for an beta game rather then a finished game. One game who had been effected by this had been World of Warcraft Cataclysm in which a lot of the beginning alpha stages had been leaked to various sources. I know some games have used this kind of thing to their advantage such as a promotional tool but some other games may find it difficult, I personally think it varies on the amount of money, time, effort had been put in but also how early the game was in production.