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BoardGameGeek» Forums » Board Game Design » Board Game Design

Subject: Help me sign my first contract rss

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Don Eskridge
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Hello BGG! I am nearing the point of signing my first contract to publish a game. I've looked at the contract and it seems good, but I'm wondering if there are any major points I should look for, anything important yet commonly missed, etc. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you,

Don
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Chris Cieslik
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Don E wrote:
Hello BGG! I am nearing the point of signing my first contract to publish a game. I've looked at the contract and it seems good, but I'm wondering if there are any major points I should look for, anything important yet commonly missed, etc. Any help would be great appreciated. Thank you,

Don


One thing to be sure of: If the company signs your game, and doesn't actually print it after a certain amount of time, what happens?
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Sean Ross
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This is from one of my fellow Game Artisans of Canada members, Rob Bartel
Quote:
5 key aspects of any boardgame contract are as follows:

Duration - How long is the contract intended to remain in place? Publishers will want a longer duration and designers will want a shorter one.

Scope - How exclusive are the rights and how many languages and territories do they cover? Again, publishers will want a larger scope whereas designers will want to limit the scope to fit the market that the publisher is actually intending to tap. Worldwide rights sounds sexy but if they're only publishing, marketing, and retailing the game in Wyoming, it doesn't do you much good.

Compensation - How much are they going to pay you and what form will that payment take? Here, the roles are obviously reversed. We want this to be large and the publishers want it to be small.

Accreditation - Will your name be publicly associated with the product and in which way? Mass market games will rarely even mention you in the fine print but it's customary for Eurogames to splash your name right on the front of the box. A lot depends on the preferences of the publisher.

Termination - Under what circumstances will the contract terminate (rather than simply expire). Publishers want to minimize their risk and volatility so they'll try to avoid termination clauses whereas the designer wants to feel adequately protected from potential abuse, negligence, or the winds of fate.


Hope that helps as a general guideline.

Cheers,
Sean
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Nicholas Vitek
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consider:
Royalties
Advance on royalties
Expected print run (keep it in mind at least)
Number of free copies of the game
Where your name appears on the box
Your cut if the sublicense it
Time contract expires (non published, if published / future runs)
Playtester credits
Artistic oversight (input on theme / art)
Rule changes
Convention attendance (if they want you at a convention, who pays what, obligations)


Not al of these apply and there are others (I am I. The car and don't have any contract examples in front of me) that should be considered. every contract is different of course, just make sure you are comfortable.
If you don't have a lawyer friend, ask someone you know who is really insightful to read over it and see if they have questions. In addition, have a magic the gathering player friend read over it looking for loop holes.

Just make sure you are comfortable because you will make the final signature and live with it.
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Nicholas Vitek
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also, under what conditions can you buy extra copies from the publisher and at what price / discount.
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Joe Mucchiello
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Hire a lawyer. While all the advice you are getting is great, without a lawyer in your pocket looking out for your interests you have no real way of knowing if what is being agreed to is actually what the contract says.

The downside to doing this is the lawyer may cost you more than you will get from the publisher in royalties. Depending on where you are a lawyer's hourly rate can easily exceed $300.
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Don Eskridge
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Thanks for the great responses so far, really appreciate it. The current contract covers most of the items mentioned, but not all. I'll be sure to get more specifics on: name on box location, termination clause, playtester credits, and expected print run. Yes I do have a lawyer friend, and I'm having him check over the rules tonight, good call. And if anyone has more ideas, I'm all ears. And a few questions:

-Do publishers usually retain the right to publish expansions without the support of the designer, but giving them part of the royalties?

-Do designers usually receive an advance on royalties or upfront check in addition to set royalties? This is probably highly variable, but thought I'd ask.

-Do royalties usually come in the form of 'net revenue,' or 'sale/retail price?'

Thanks again for your answers and suggestions - highly useful!
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Joe Mucchiello
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I have no experience with your additional questions but they all sound like something to include in the contract and like potential negotiation points. If you see the game as having 3 or more expansions, you should find out both if the publisher wants expansions and how they will be handled. And don't forget to include a way to have your name removed from an expansion. You never know if/when your expectations for the game might diverge wildly from the publisher's expectations.
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Hire a lawyer.

You might regret it later if you don't.


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Paul W
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jmucchiello wrote:
Hire a lawyer. While all the advice you are getting is great, without a lawyer in your pocket looking out for your interests you have no real way of knowing if what is being agreed to is actually what the contract says.

The downside to doing this is the lawyer may cost you more than you will get from the publisher in royalties. Depending on where you are a lawyer's hourly rate can easily exceed $300.


Definitely this. Think of the expense of a lawyer looking it over as an insurance policy on all of the hard work you've put in so far.
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fizzmore wrote:
jmucchiello wrote:
Hire a lawyer. While all the advice you are getting is great, without a lawyer in your pocket looking out for your interests you have no real way of knowing if what is being agreed to is actually what the contract says.

The downside to doing this is the lawyer may cost you more than you will get from the publisher in royalties. Depending on where you are a lawyer's hourly rate can easily exceed $300.


Definitely this. Think of the expense of a lawyer looking it over as an insurance policy on all of the hard work you've put in so far.
He already said that he had a lawyer friend that was going to look it over.

Don E wrote:
Yes I do have a lawyer friend, and I'm having him check over the rules tonight, good call.
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Joe Mucchiello
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spearjr wrote:
Definitely this. Think of the expense of a lawyer looking it over as an insurance policy on all of the hard work you've put in so far.
He already said that he had a lawyer friend that was going to look it over.[/q]
But does his friend deal in contract law? What IP experience does he have? Hopefully his friend either has the right experience or knows where to direct Don E next should the contract be beyond his specialties.
 
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Chris Montgomery
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You can get some excellent advice from SFWA - the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (I know, I know, but the acronym is SFWA, not SFFWA).

http://www.sfwa.org/for-authors/information-center/

Scroll down to Copyright Issues.

Anyway, for copyright issues, they touch on many similar topics and the advice they have is brilliant - both in what to expect and what to look out for.

I should also say that copyright issues for games are not the same as copyright issues for stories and such, but the publishing issues, such as sample contracts are provided as well as "standard" contract language for published books - not so sure if the standard language is the same as game publishing, but it should be similar.

Good luck.

Chris
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Brian Robson
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I'd also add:

- Rights cannot be transferred by the publisher without your prior permission.

- In the event of bankruptcy of the publisher, all rights immediately revert back to the you.
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Don Eskridge
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Just wanted to say thanks to everyone for their great advice. Furthermore, after reviewing the contract with peers and editing with the publisher, we came to an agreement, and I signed the contract today. We're hoping to publish The Resistance in short order. Thanks again for your help!

Don
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Nicholas Vitek
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Very odd. A member of a board gaming group in Houston brought a PnP version of this to our gaming night a couple of months back. We played it a few times that evening.

Congrats on getting it published.

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