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Subject: Game licences? rss

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Paul Schoenherr
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Does anyone have any information on what licences for games cost, and what kind of deals normally are made. Say someone wants to make another LOTR game - what deals are made with the owners? % of sales (how large), one time price (how large), or both?

Take Glenn Drover who has aquired the licence for AOE3 and Pirates! What kind of deal do you think that is? Whats curious about those two examples are that they are in some kind of limbo (Pirates! atleast). So hwo do you reckon the right holders feel about that? Do they care? I guess that depends on the deal. So please, any information of these licence deals for books, or computer games would be highly appreciated. I suspect a few tidbits might have surfaced over the years

 
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Greg Aleknevicus
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This article is not exactly what you're looking for (it's about acquiring rights to older games) but it may be of interest anyway:

http://www.thegamesjournal.com/articles/AcquiringGameRights....
 
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Good question. I'd like to know how long Chessex owns the right to not publish Wiz-War.
 
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Paul Schoenherr
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greg wrote:
This article is not exactly what you're looking for (it's about acquiring rights to older games) but it may be of interest anyway:

http://www.thegamesjournal.com/articles/AcquiringGameRights....


Thanks a lot. That is a nice article.

Doesn't anyone else any information on the subject they can share?
 
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Paul Schoenherr
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A slight bump in hope that someone who knows something might have missed the thread the first time around. cool

I have a small licence I would like to try get, but I dont know what to expect in terms of a deal.
 
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Rob Rob
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mmolus wrote:
Good question. I'd like to know how long Chessex owns the right to not publish Wiz-War.


Same for MMP and Up Front... shake
 
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Walt
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I'm unsure whether you're talking about licensing a game or licensing a trademark for a game. It sounds more like the latter, so here are some thoughts (not knowledge).

The license may be held. In the case of LOTR, it probably is. Anything reasonably popular is probably held, and if it's not you'd have to compete against Hasborg and other major game manufacturers who want to make another knock-off game, like [whatever] Monopoly or Uno. You may also have to compete with, say, a movie company who would want the game rights as part of a combined merchandizing strategy, as used for Pirates of the Caribbean. If the license is anything like these, contact your IP department to negotiate--they'll know what to do. If you don't have an IP department, I doubt anyone will return your calls. You're talking tens of thousands of dollars just to see if a deal is possible, so unless you're an established publisher, a big company will not spend the tens of thousands of dollars to talk with you. Sorry, but I've been in bitty companies and billion-dollar companies, and the different is brutal.

That being said, I think licenses are overrated. A good game will succeed, it will just take a little longer. Remember that Monopoly and Scrabble both started as garage businesses. Caylus was a first published design and only Ystari's second game after Ys. Now Caylus has swept most of the major design awards.
 
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Paul Schoenherr
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Thanks Tall.

So if I read what your saying correctly, it will cost tens of thousands dollars for the name only? So a game like War of the Ring has likely paid 10.000+ for the LOTR licence, and then maybe also pay some kind of royalty?
 
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Walt
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hulubulu wrote:
So if I read what your saying correctly, it will cost tens of thousands dollars for the name only? So a game like War of the Ring has likely paid 10.000+ for the LOTR licence, and then maybe also pay some kind of royalty?


Worse: I'm saying it will cost a major corporation, such as those holding big names, tens of thousands of dollars just to talk to you seriously. To be taken seriously, you would need at least an IP lawyer and an MBA to talk with them seriously. Unless you have a track record of making boatloads of money from publishing games, the talks will go nowhere. The certain conclusion will be that while you might get lucky, someone with a record of making money might come through the door the day after they sign with you. Think about it from the IP guy's point of view: he signs with you, and then Hasborg or Microsoft or Blizzard comes through the door looking for complete game rights: the IP guy is royally screwed. And signing with you would require time of their own lawyers, management to clear the contract, and if you didn't have equal talent of your own, you'd find you'd bought the rights to nothing: it's their contract lawyer's job to make the contract as one sided as they can get away with, like they'd have absolute veto on the game, the ability to revoke rights at any time, and any royalties would be on gross profits, not your net. So, unless you can throw serious money at this, it isn't practical.

If you had the track record (in which case you wouldn't have asked the question) then the license-holder would be more friendly and less preditory. Also, if you were just using those big names as recognizable and you're really thinking of something like right's to an author's book world, then things could be quite different.

FWIW, I think a better plan is to create the game, and if it's successful, then think about a license and a re-theming. Or, create your own theme. Look at Reiner Knizia and Blue Moon: Dr. Knizia is one of the top few designers in the world--and he has done license work--but he created his own Blue Moon world so he had an evocative world without license fees. (And BTW, I expect the licensed games he's done, he's been paid by the license holder rather than buying the rights to the license.)
 
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Paul Schoenherr
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Alright. Thanks. Guess I'll put it on hold. Was just an impulsive thought, and a general curiousness.
 
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Walt
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Maybe the real answer is: create a game because you love creating games. Worry about everything else once it gets past blind playtest.
 
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Glenn Drover
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Every deal is different in the details of cost and payment terms based on the strength of the license and the deal that you can negotiate, but the constants of deals like this are:

1) % royalty (% paid to the license holder)
2) Term of the deal (how long)
3) Territory/ languages (regions of the world and/ or languages in which the publisher has the right to sell the product.
4) Advance royalty payment and guarantee payments are also common (i.e. up-front money and total money minimums)
5) Special terms that could protect the parties from things like being "out of print" and tying up the license without commercial sales.
6) Payment timing (Quaterly, annually, etc.)
7) Penalties for breach

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