On Tuesday, the latest patch for the Marvel’s Avengers video game, developed by Crystal Dynamics, rolled out with a mix of feature updates, bug fixes, and gameplay and balance tweaks. But while today’s patch notes detailed most of these changes, one unexpected error popped up for some players: a new on-screen display, which can’t be disabled, that shows each player’s home IP address.
The news emerged primarily as Twitch game streamers began jumping into the game and hosting their sessions to fans, only to notice the line of text—which also includes the player’s console username (à la Xbox’s “Gamertag”) and other apparent numerical indicators—not only appeared on-screen but began bouncing from the top to the bottom of the screen in a way that would prevent a streamer from easily cropping the details for privacy’s sake. In a rush to showcase the game’s new content to their Twitch audience, many streamers inadvertently revealed that information to their audiences.
The game’s social media account acknowledged the issue shortly after players began complaining about it, though they did so somewhat disingenuously by describing the IP address leak as merely “a floating string of text.” An hour later, the same social media account asked players to “refrain from streaming” the game for the time being while an internal investigation was taking place. Shortly after, the developer owned up to the issue while saying that it was isolated to PlayStation 5 consoles.
As far as casual gameplay goes, this is merely a visual nuisance, but anyone interested in either streaming the game or sharing clips or screenshots would be wise to take Crystal Dynamics’ advice and lock your play down for the time being. Your home IP address is not your last line of Internet defense by any means, and it may be assigned by your ISP in a dynamic fashion, but it’s still the kind of personally identifying information that you don’t want to freely share online—especially if your favorite streaming chat room includes bored ne’er-do-wells who might leverage that IP address for nefarious means. (Though, really, you should double-check your home computing environment to ensure that an IP address leak doesn’t spell doom for your devices or connection.)
While Crystal Dynamics has yet to clarify why this happened, it’s quite possible that the identifier string is inherited from an internal testing version of the game, perhaps used by remote QA testers who can’t go to an office to test unfinished patch content. I’ve seen bouncing text identifiers many times in a post-pandemic game-criticism world, primarily when I’m invited to play unannounced or early versions of new games and am asked not to record my footage. Many video game developers employ similar practices while sharing unfinished game content across a global remote workforce.
Today’s bad news follows the game’s lengthy development process, mediocre critical reception, and issues with update cadence, since its always-online nature was met with expectations of regularly expanded and fleshed-out content that hasn’t necessarily arrived. Development slowdown has included an apparent delay to the PlayStation-exclusive addition of the Spider-Man character, which still doesn’t have a release date for PlayStation consoles.