Recommend
6 
 Thumb up
 Hide
42 Posts
1 , 2  Next »   | 

BoardGameGeek» Forums » Board Game Design » Board Game Design

Subject: I'm ready to submit my board game to a game agent .. am I protected? rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
William Poirier
Canada
Parksville
British Columbia
flag msg tools
mb
I have recently discovered this website and I am overwhelmed at how helpful this community of gamers, developers and others have been in the many posts I have read. I hope that I can post here from time to time and get some feedback from you all with regard to my project.

I am producing a board game and have recently completed my prototype. After some research and review of the many ways to get my game to market I thought I would submit my game to a couple of game agents in both the US and Germany for their evaluation.

My question is this: If I submit my game for review to these agents, what's to stop them in saying to you it's a flop and then they produce a "very" similar version of your idea themselves or hand it off to their buddy at ABC Give-Us-Your-Idea Limited and have them produce it? I really don't care to share my game idea and have it stolen and sold abroad ...

Any help in this matter to help ease my concern would be greatly appreciated. Thanks to all of you who respond.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tom Vasel
United States
Homestead
Unspecified
flag msg tools
designer
Love Games, Love 'Em!!!
badge
Check out DiceTower.com!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The simple answer is - it just doesn't happen. Maybe an instance has happened somewhere along the line of history, but for the most part - game companies are being swarmed with ideas - they don't have the need to steal yours.

25 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Richard Prieto
msg tools
Hi william. First, congrats on completing your game. I'll spare you the traditional lecture (i.e. did you extensively playtest it, etc.) because I'll assume that if you're getting ready to get it published you're as far along as you think you need to be.

Addressing your main concern, the answer is probably yes - you're game is protected. How protected? hard to say. But, assuming you're a first-time game designer, the bigger question is, "who cares?!" Right now, you're a complete unknown to any game agents/publishers out there. You said:
Quote:
I really don't care to share my game idea and have it stolen and sold abroad
I'll tell you in all seriousness and without any condescension - this is a very amateurish statement and will label you as such if you take this approach with publishers. They get dozens of submissions every month. Quite frankly, they don't need to steal your game.

No reputable publisher (be it games, novels, screenplay, what-have-you) is going to risk their business, reputation and profits just to "steal" your game. Quite the opposite, as a first time game designer, you should feel absolutely ecstatic if they show any interest at all.

The biggest hurdle you have to overcome right now is obscurity - not "protection". Make some prototypes and submit them to reputable publishers. You can start with the publishers right here on this board of which there are several. I'm confident that they'll give your game all the attention it deserves.

Good luck to you again and I really hope you get your game published.
27 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Scott Nelson
United States
Draper
Utah
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
First of all, this is a a very niche industry, and if a publisher did do this sales would fall (if it was proven) for that company out of disgust for them. Second, place it on BGG with an entry and it will be dated as when it was added. This is turn does two things, you can send any one the webpage address to look at it (when you add pictures), you can get others to add a review on here if they played the prototype. Also, if you add the rules to the webpage for the game, it is pretty solid that no one would want to copy it. Also, that would bring interest to your game as word of mouth on bgg is very good advertising.

Agents in whole will not do this since it is their job, not to do this; it owuld be cutting their own neck do steal from you. If you do use an agent, find a good one, look on BGDF.com for a list and other ideas you can use.

Attend conventions with your prototype and test it with as many people as possible. They in turn will be able to be a witness to the stealing practice if it comes up.

Second, make sure no one else has your idea already by checking on bgg and maybe posting a quick question on a main mechanism for your game and see if anyone else has used it exactly the same way you have. You will have mechanics that are the same as ___ which is okay as long as you don't completely have the near-same rules.

Mail the rules to yourself and keep a copy dated that way is a poor man's copyright, but better than nothing if it does come down to stolen property.

Third, remember you may have thought no one else has your ideas, but just because you thought of it that means someone else might have around the same time. There is a name for that; look at steel driver and Chicago express(Wabash cannonball) for that "same time, same idea" concept.
8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
DC
United States
Grand Rapids
Michigan
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmb
ropearoni4 wrote:
Mail the rules to yourself and keep a copy dated that way is a poor man's copyright, but better than nothing if it does come down to stolen property.


While I have no other helpful advice, we really need to stop spreading around this bit of info. The "poor man's copyright" has no legal value whatsoever in most countries, including Canada and the US. It is ridiculously easy to fake such a package, too.
12 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Scott Nelson
United States
Draper
Utah
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
What could be a poor man's copyright? it sounds neat to say that

I did mean to say "email the rules" not mail.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Nick Herman
Germany
Munich
Bavaria
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
As has been said before, it is exremely unlikely that a publisher would "steal" your idea. I own a book by german game designer Tom Werneck, who was also a founding member of the "Spiel des Jahres" jury, with the title "Guide for game designers" (Leitfaden für Spieleerfinder). In it he explains, that, as a new game designer, you don't have to fear that a renowned publisher would "steal" your design. If a publisher would do such things it would become public soon and nobody would submit anything to the publisher anymore - the business would be ruined.

And one more thing: be prepared that your design very likely won't be accepted just as it is. If a publisher is interested, he very likely will suggest a lot of changes and redesigns until the game will be ready to be published.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
Saint Joseph
Michigan
flag msg tools
designer
I would do all the things I have ever dreamed of doing. I would love to become a professional whistler.I'm pretty amazing at it now, but I wanna get, like, even better. Make my living out of it.
badge
Bffffttt, Pffffttt, Buuuuurtt........
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Game Authors FAQ by Bruno Faidutti - He addresses some of your questions.

More info for game designers: MetaList: Game Design Resources
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Paul Nowak
United States
Greenville
Michigan
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
You have paid retail for the last time.
badge
The human race, to which so many of my readers belong, has been playing at children's games from the beginning, and will probably do it till the end, which is a nuisance for the few people who grow up. - GKC
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
There is also the stickied thread in this forum on copyrights, patents, etc.

http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/493249/mythbusting-game-desi...
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andrea Doria
United States
Tennessee
flag msg tools
Other posters are right---corporate theft of like this is the sort of thing that happens with massive companies marketing industry-transforming products and that have the muscle to bury (or the money to eat) lawsuits and negative publicity. Small companies that make all their profits at the margins (i.e. all modern game publishers not named Habsro) can't pull those kind of stunts.

If you're just racked with fear and have buckets of money lying around, send me some and then go talk to an IP lawyer.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
William Poirier
Canada
Parksville
British Columbia
flag msg tools
mb
Thank you for your comments. Would it be prudent anyway to perhaps get the game rules copyrighted and game name and board trademarked .. then proceed to submit to game agents?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Paul Nowak
United States
Greenville
Michigan
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
You have paid retail for the last time.
badge
The human race, to which so many of my readers belong, has been playing at children's games from the beginning, and will probably do it till the end, which is a nuisance for the few people who grow up. - GKC
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Roshambo wrote:
Thank you for your comments. Would it be prudent anyway to perhaps get the game rules copyrighted and game name and board trademarked .. then proceed to submit to game agents?


If you take a look at the thread I linked to, you already have a copyright and trademark on the applicable properties. There's no need to register to get them.

However, that does not mean anyone can tweak the rules, change the name, and change the art to develop a new product on the mechanic. Not to make you paranoid, but spending more money on registering isn't going to protect you more.

Getting it to market, getting it recognized - that will establish that it is yours. It's not a good business practice for the bigger companies to outright copy the game exactly.
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
William Poirier
Canada
Parksville
British Columbia
flag msg tools
mb
ropearoni4 wrote:
First of all, this is a a very niche industry, and if a publisher did do this sales would fall (if it was proven) for that company out of disgust for them. Second, place it on BGG with an entry and it will be dated as when it was added. This is turn does two things, you can send any one the webpage address to look at it (when you add pictures), you can get others to add a review on here if they played the prototype. Also, if you add the rules to the webpage for the game, it is pretty solid that no one would want to copy it. Also, that would bring interest to your game as word of mouth on bgg is very good advertising.


Darn good advice! I guess adding some pictures and the rules to this site would sure help in getting some more feedback on my game. I have done extensive play-testing and blind play-testing. I had some control group testing in various venues followed up by some questionnaires so I think the gameplay and such is as good as it can get. The rules are ready to the point where I can't step all over them and rewrite them for the 1000th time. The game pieces are finalized, but the board does need to get to a designer and be reworked to a final production stage.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Joe Mucchiello
United States
Edison
New Jersey
flag msg tools
designer
Quote:
Thank you for your comments. Would it be prudent anyway to perhaps get the game rules copyrighted and game name and board trademarked .. then proceed to submit to game agents?

No.


Long Answer: Read the link to Bruno Faidutti's blog above again. You did read it, right? In fact, read all the links in this thread. They contain extremely valuable information.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Rauscher
New Zealand
Mount Victoria
Wellington
flag msg tools
If I can summarise where the advice leads you: Don't Panic. With respect to copyright, trademark, etc., don't worry about it - the publisher / agent will walk you through it.

Just two other thoughts:

1. With respect to playtesting, I'm always worried for someone who's new to BGG but hasn't tested the game with any BGGers. BGG is a pretty big community within this niche market. I would STRONGLY suggest you test with some active BGGers to get some feedback.

2. Don't kill yourself on art/design/etc. A nicer production helps to sell the product, but most games companies will take care of that themselves. That's what they're really good at, and they'll be concerned about third party copyrights if you're receiving help in the art department.

Best of luck.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Travis Worthington
United States
California
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
2010 Releases ........................................ The Resistance, Haggis & Triumvirate ..................................... Now accepting submissions for 2011 releases ........................................ www.IndieBoardsandCards.com
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
we are really on a roll in the past two weeks with this question!

As everyone has pointed out you are about as protected as you'll ever be by sending rules over email to the agent - it time stamps your submission and establishes your desire to make the game commercially available at the same time. By doing this your work is copyrighted (at least in the US).

Registering a trademark on the name would likely be a complete waste of money, its likely to change anyways if the game were to get published and if in the very unlikely event that the game was stolen and published under the same name it would be hard to enforce the trademark unless you had made an attempt to promote that trademark.

Copyright, trademarks and patents all require lots of money to defend - way more than they cost to get. In this industry it doesn't make sense to spend that money.

I would also be careful with agents, make sure that they are doing work to profit with you, not from you. An upfront fee to evaluate your game is reasonable (100?) but if they try to sell you anything else its time to walk.

In general the type of hobby games that this site caters to doesn't require an agent, though a few german hobby games and the Mattels and Hasbros of the world do.
8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
William Poirier
Canada
Parksville
British Columbia
flag msg tools
mb
Excellent advice from all of you and I can't thank you enough. I will be posting some info on the game to this site and if any of you folks wish to get on a list of play testers I will gladly forward you a copy of game when I get some copies produced. Thank you again!!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Peaceful Gamin'
Canada
Vancouver
BC
flag msg tools
designer
You found our Geekbadge Overtext. Congratulations! :-)
badge
Gaming is fun. And this is a hypercube. The sun is shining
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
TomVasel wrote:
The simple answer is - it just doesn't happen. Maybe an instance has happened somewhere along the line of history, but for the most part - game companies are being swarmed with ideas - they don't have the need to steal yours.




Same argument is true for books.
Ideas are mega abundant. Even finished products are mega abundant. Finding the good ones is the difficulty.
If you write a book / paint a picture / make a boardgame / be otherwise creative, chances are, there are dozens of items very similar to yours in various stages of production. Most will never leave the people's heads, some are very poorly thought through etc.
If you submit your game somewhere, and then "your" game appears somewhere else, in all likelihood, the idea was produced by someone else to start with.
And it's really simple to have ideas. The final execution and the nittygritty of years of playtesting etcetc are what separate winners from the average produce of everyday life.

I would recommend you to enter your game into a competition, and see how it fares. If you win, you'll find a dozen publishers who will want it. if not, you will still have a record of participation.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Peaceful Gamin'
Canada
Vancouver
BC
flag msg tools
designer
You found our Geekbadge Overtext. Congratulations! :-)
badge
Gaming is fun. And this is a hypercube. The sun is shining
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
PS: Just as T Worthington pointed out, I'd stay away from agents. you will not benefit from them, and most successful book writers represent themselves. Only industry agents are necessary is the movie industry, if you are an actor.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
フィル
Australia
Ashfield
NSW
flag msg tools
designer
badge
I've got an 808 and a 303 and a record collection like the ABC
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
There's a really good article on getting your game idea in print:
http://www.boardgamesaustralia.org.au/design/what-now

I strongly suggest you avoid agents, and just contact publishers directly. I've seen one person ripped off to the tune of $11,000 by various agents and 'inventor help' companies. Getting a game design in front of a publisher should not cost you a cent. Don't be another victim.

If a publisher (generally a mass market publisher like Hasbro) tells you that they will only accepts submissions through an agent, they usually mean a particular person. Ask them who the relevant agent is.

It is also a waste of money getting patents and trademarks on your game as it currently stands. A publisher will always change some rules, change the name of the game, etc, and then your patents and trademarks are worthless. Once the final form of the game is agreed to by a publisher, the publisher can take care of trademarks etc.
9 
 Thumb up
0.25
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
William Poirier
Canada
Parksville
British Columbia
flag msg tools
mb
salish99 wrote:
[q="TomVasel"]

I would recommend you to enter your game into a competition, and see how it fares. If you win, you'll find a dozen publishers who will want it. if not, you will still have a record of participation.



Which competition would you suggest? Are you talking about hosting a competition with my game for players to participate or entering my game into a competition with other producers to see how mine fairs against the competition? If so, do you have a few recommendations?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
William Poirier
Canada
Parksville
British Columbia
flag msg tools
mb
Is there a comprehensive list of "Publishers" that I can review? Also, what do you do in the case of selling to other markets such as Asia, South America or Australia? Do you recommend finding publishers in each market or are there suggested agents that can best represent your product in all markets? Thanks in advance for you responses
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
フィル
Australia
Ashfield
NSW
flag msg tools
designer
badge
I've got an 808 and a 303 and a record collection like the ABC
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Roshambo wrote:
Is there a comprehensive list of "Publishers" that I can review? Also, what do you do in the case of selling to other markets such as Asia, South America or Australia? Do you recommend finding publishers in each market or are there suggested agents that can best represent your product in all markets? Thanks in advance for you responses

It depends on the game. Most publishers specialise in a particular type of game. For example, GMT specialises in simulation wargames, HABA specialises in games for children, and so on. If you tell us a bit more about your game, we can suggest the relevant publishers.

Again, agents are completely the wrong track to go down. If you get an agent now, your game will never get published. Really. Forget about agents unless a publisher tells you that you need to submit your games using a particular agent.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Paul Nowak
United States
Greenville
Michigan
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
You have paid retail for the last time.
badge
The human race, to which so many of my readers belong, has been playing at children's games from the beginning, and will probably do it till the end, which is a nuisance for the few people who grow up. - GKC
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
A really good question was raised - what are the major game competitions?

I got the info for Mensa Select, but I know there are others:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/wiki/page/Gaming_Industry_Award...

Maybe we should do a thread with the deadlines/costs/requirements for all these contests?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tim Roediger
Australia
Nowra
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Sbszine has some very good things to say. Here are a few more tips about agents.

Follow these steps:
1. Have a finished game as good as you can make it. The components don't have to be super, but the game must be.
2. Reasearch different pubishing companies and work out where your game will fit in the market.
3. If you think your game is right for the mass market (the hardest one to crack) then consider getting a game agent so your game can be seen by the likes of Hasbro and Mattel. Your game agent should not charge you ANY up front fees at ALL. Rather you should enter a contract with them stipulating how the royalties from your game will be shared between you and the agent if the game is published. Also, make sure that your game agent is actually someone that Hasbro and Matel talk to.
4. If you think your game is right for a segment of the hobby game market, then approach publishers directly. Most have details on their website about how to submit an idea. Make sure you follow their guidelines strictly.

I've gone both ways with different games. I have a game agent who has presented one of my games to Hasbro and Matel - in fact I am preparing more prototype copies at the moment to send to them. I have also aproached smaller companies directly with some success.

In all of this remember that games are about fun, not money. If you are designing for fun, then you'll have a great time. If you are designing for money then you might be disapointed.

Cheers,

Tim
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
1 , 2  Next »   | 
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.