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Recently, I was asked for some contract advice by a fellow game creator and PFG’s Lawyer provided him with 10 Tips to consider. For this week’s League of Gamemakers video. I walk through his 10 tips and provide my own perspective.
1. The owner of a game needs written contracts with all contributors.
2. Profits definitions need to be thought through to permit all kinds of foreseeable deductions so that payments are made only out of net funds. Profits are contingent, never guaranteed and the owner has the right to make all decisions.
3. All distribution deals need to be limited in time, territory and rights (all rights not granted are reserved) and need to be terminable for material breach. The copyright and trademarks should be protected by appropriate notices and filings.
4. It is not worth entering into a deal unless there is a reasonable up front payment.
5. All of the risks of the deal should be carefully weighed.
6. Forms prepared by licensees usually need major changes before they are fair and even handed.
6. Contracts should be governed by US law.
7. It is doubtful that the owner will ever sue because of the high cost of lawsuits but it is certain that it is almost impossible to bring lawsuits outside the US because of the cost and lack of familiarity with foreign markets. For those reasons it is important to carefully check the reliability of third parties.
8. Payments should be made up front. Back end guaranties are unwise. If the owner has to go back to a licensee to pay a guarantee it means that the licensee hasn’t made the amount it expected so it is doubtful that the licensee will go further in the hole.
9. At the outset an accountant can be just as important as a lawyer.
10. Capitalists like Bill Gates and George Lucas were successful because they treated their original ideas like gold and carefully protected them from the beginning.
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