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Subject: 2 questions: rss

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Lee Bell

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1. Is there any money to be made creating games? I actually have 3, but can't see investing the $600 to create a prototype and then try to get to Germany to peddle it at the convention. What's the going rate for new games?

2. It's wonderful to think everyone is here to help, or that companies don't steal other peoples ideas, but I think we all know better, yes? Wouldn't it be wise to get your game copyrighted BEFORE sumbmitting it? From what I've seen, this is a cut-throat business, to put it kindly. Depending on the honesty of game companies who are really only out to make a buck seems like folly to me. Once they hear your idea, and say "no", you've already given the game to them. Are there any honest game companies out there? arrrh
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Marshall Miller
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I think that you will find that most game companies are not out to steal your ideas. They have enough games in progress and deal with enough easygoing designers to care about stealing ideas and IP disputes. If they want a game, they seem to only want it if its a clean and painless process for both parties. In short, game companies are too busy for shenanigans.

As for copyrighting, if you're not sure if your prototype is worth $600, could you afford the legal costs to defend your copyright?

In my humble opinion, if you've got some great games then you should release one as a print and play, both to build your name as a developer and as a demo of your design talent. Publishers might approach you that way.

As for money to be made in board games, I can probably count on my fingers the number of designers that can quit their day jobs to design games. Its usually something you would do anyway and aren't in it for the money. I suspect that most are in it because they love gaming, want some geeky prestige, and are willing to put in some time/elbow grease/capital. In short, its a giant hobby project aside from their normal work.
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Pete Belli
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Welcome to BGG!

Quote:
Is there any money to be made creating games?


Not really, but there are other rewards. Follow up on your ideas and have fun.

Good Luck!
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Josh P.
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Lee72 wrote:
1. Is there any money to be made creating games?


It's not about the money. It's about the girls, fame, and power!
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Marshall Miller
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One nice thing is that if you design a game, you can make all the money you want. You just can't use it outside of your game.
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Walt
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Welcome to Board Game Geek!

1. I suspect Reiner Knizia makes pretty good money, but he's about the only designer I would accuse of that.

If you're spending $600 for a prototype, you're probably spending too much. Seriously. I saw Strozzi in playtest, and it was a rough version of the final board, some cheaply printed cards (functional but not fancy art), a few chits, and some cardboard coins, probably taken from another game. Using off-the-shelf bits is the order of the day; and if it does come down to self-publishing, you'll then be able to do it at a reasonable price. I should say, though, that this was a commissioned game: Strozzi was already sold.

Still, boardgame publishers don't want to be told how to publish their games, even implicitly. Ra was designed as a card game, but the original publisher decided to go upscale and make it a board game. Publishers routinely change the appearance or theme of a submitted game. You're selling the the mechanics of the game, not their expression. Some publishers reputedly and apparently like as little theme as possible so they can evaluate the game underneath better.


2. No. No reputable company will steal your game. If you get IP protection for your game or seek non-disclosure agreements or generally play lawyer in any way, companies will drop you like a hot rock. The profits in the board game industry are not sufficient to support lawyers. A copyright is: first, automatically granted under the Berne Convention; and second, completely useless.

Why? Copyrights protect expressions: writings, pictures etc. They do not protect processes or ideas: that's a patent. Patents are extremely expensive, and probably ultimately useless. Board games have so much "prior art" that virtually any idea can be challenged on that basis, and if you're thinking of selling to a big company like Hasbro, they have enough money, they will win any patent case they challenge.


So, be happy! Make your prototypes on the cheap. Playtest them. Take them to conventions and show them to publishers.

In addition to http://www.bgdf.com/ (Board Game Designers Forum), you may also want to chat in BGG's board game design forum, http://boardgame.geekdo.com/forum/15/region/1
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Erik Syvertsen
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It's been a very long time since I've been to a game convention. The last one I was at was in upstate New York, and although I was pretty young I do remember there being a bunch of people with tables set up, showing off their games, which were generally printed on cardstock and packaged in plastic bags. Does that kind of thing still go on? I believe I bought one or two of them back then, but they are long gone.

Just curious I guess. I remember being very impressed with the fact that these guys were selling their own creations.
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Walt
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Demoing at a con is probably the best way to attract a publisher. I recall that one major publisher said that was the only way he'd approach a new designer. If you think about it, they really don't have the time to even read an inquiry email from every aspiring designer. An alternative would be some sort of personal contact with the publisher, but that's a harder path, I think.

If you go to a con a publisher is at and get enough people buzzing about your game, you have a chance of interesting them.
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Lee Bell

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Thanks for all the good replies and advice. It leaves me feeling a bit uncertain still, tho. Read somewhere where new ideas have been submitted and accepted by companies, who then placed the new games online. Designer was under the impression it would be published in the form of a board game, and released to the public for sale. Instead, the online public played for free, and the designer got no royalties nor a red cent for all his/her creative efforts. Or, the publisher makes $6.oo dollars on every board game they sell, and designer gets a dime per game sold?

I'm not out to retire, but business is business and fair is fair. What if the unthinkable happens, and I accidently create the new Monopoly; it sells a billion copies world-wide and makes bazillions of $$ for the publisher? I don't mind if they get rich, but I think I ought to too! Savvy? I love games as much a the next guy, but where's the trade off? What good is a "good name" in the gaming world if one can't make a buck? I appreciate the fact that the publisher is the one taking all the risk, but if there was no new game ust invented, they'd have nothing new to sell!It takes 2 to tango.
Basically, what I'm hearing is to give away your first game, hope someone notices you, then be content to make very little profit on my time and creative efforts. I know the big boys have people employed who'se only job is to create games. Send them your idea, they say "No thanks, we go've got one of our own", then they proceed to make a knock-off and its on the shelf in a month. Where do we go for protection? Will publishers buy a patent or copyright from me if I get one before hand, and they love the game?

Appreciate all your good answers guys!
Lee
 
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Marshall Miller
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Lee72 wrote:
...I appreciate the fact that the publisher is the one taking all the risk, but if there was no new game [j]ust invented, they'd have nothing new to sell! It takes 2 to tango.

Unless you take all the risk, you can't dance alone.

Lee72 wrote:
...Basically, what I'm hearing is to give away your first game, hope someone notices you, then be content to make very little profit on my time and creative efforts...

Board games are such a niche market that you don't get into to make a profit. Some will get lucky and make some profit when the stars are just right, but I imagine most are just happy to have a published game. Think of it like the entertainment industry in LA; there are so many, willing to do so much, for so little that it takes a lot of work to get anywhere financially substantial within the industry. That said, you can pretty far if you're willing to do it for cheap.


Lee72 wrote:
Will publishers buy a patent or copyright from me if I get one before hand, and they love the game?
That seems like a real long-shot.
 
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Walt
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1. Dominion/Dominion: Intrigue/Dominion: Seaside is the designer's first game design. If he hadn't gotten a fair shake on Dominion, would he have created the expansions? The same (with respect to expansions) applies to Catan, Alhambra. Carcassonne....

2. I think a fair estimate would have the publisher making three or four times the profit of the designer. Sound unfair? Think of all the work they do.

3, If you want all the profits you have to take all the risks. In other words, self-publish.
 
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Christian Link
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Your hitting the pipe dream a lot of users here have and I think most are willing to help someone else with the same dream out of pure empathy.

I had an idea once...know a good patent lawyer?
 
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Lee Bell

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I guess I could resign myself to the fact I'll never get rich doing this, but it puts me in mind of artists (musicians, painters, sculptors etc...) who put in the time and effort and release their creative juices into a project, only to find someone else's fingers in the till.
I had heard back in the day, musicians used to receive about 17 cents per album sold, while the record company made millions. About the only way the band made any money was to go on tour.

Thanks for the replies. I would have thought more like a 60/40 split would be fair for an established company who are more able to absorb a hit if the game would happen to fail. After all, if they are worth their salt, they should have an extremely good idea of the future sucess of the projects they buy. I know I would.

For those who have actually sold games: So what happens after I get the attention of a publisher? Do they send me an "offer" of some kind? Do I approach them with one? Do we talk about flat rates, or a percentage, or a percentage after they have recovered thier initial costs for production? How does this work, my brothers and sisters?
Lee
 
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Lee Bell

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Actually, self publishing one of my games makes alot of sense. Only a couple of problems present great difficulty, and I'm fairly sure they are overcomeable. The game itself is unbelievably simple with very few game pieces (very low production costs). In fact, its so simple, someone else has prolly already thought of it, now that I think about it! How can I find out if MY game is actually the knockoff of someones else's game? Are there reviews of every game ever invented since the beginning of time? gulp
If it were original I could scavage parts cheat. Packaging and distribution would be the goliath I would have to slay.
Lee
 
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Walt
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Board Game Geek is, I would say, the most authoritative source for a history of games published, 35,000, I think. (Despite that, we still find old games not listed here.) Look up the mechanics of your game using the advanced search, just to the right of the game search input line. (At least on BGG--not sure about Geekdo.

You might wan't to check out:
http://www.thegamecrafter.com
You give them specs and art on your game and they print it on demand, including adding in the bits.
 
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Lee Bell

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This may seem like a stupid question to all of you veterans, but can you get more than one company to publish your game? Seems to me there are dozens of folks who sell Chess, checkers, etc... Or will the publisher (should I be fortunate enough to find one,) expect to be exclusive?

Board Game Geek is, I would say, the most authoritative source for a history of games published, 35,000, I think. (Despite that, we still find old games not listed here.) Look up the mechanics of your game using the advanced search, just to the right of the game search input line. (At least on BGG--not sure about Geekdo.

Am getting the hang of it now. Thanks for the good info. So far I haven't stolen anyone else's idea.
 
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Walt
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Lee72 wrote:
Am getting the hang of it now. Thanks for the good info. So far I haven't stolen anyone else's idea.

(Try QuickQuote, at the bottom of replies. Delete the stuff irrelevant to your reply, but leave the bracketed quote stuff. If you want to break up the quote into multiple parts, the quickest way, I find, is to copy the beginning q= stuff, with brackets, and paste it; then enter /q in brackets by hand. QuickQuote something and you'll see how quotes work. And if you ever wonder how someone did this redtrain or this QuickQuote will show you.)

As to multiple companies publishing your game, the deal is typically, I think, "I'll give you world wide rights to my game for the royalties you offer." For example, Donald X. gave Rio Grande Games rights, and RGG handled the international end--messy, you want an expert like Jay doing it! (Someone please correct me if I'm off here.)
 
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Lee Bell

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Dem Bones; others-

What kind of royalties, specifically, would be "in the neighborhood" of what a company would pay out, for a published game?
 
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Walt
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I've heard 5% of retail at the high end for an established designer. Some companies want to do a deal based in some other manner.
 
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