Mike L.
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So, I signed a contract with a game company for one of my games. I was happy and excited, they asked for my prototype so they could review and playtest it, I thought OK and got it to them ASAP. It has now been about 5 months since I sent them my prototype. I had been patiently waiting and 3 months ago they told me they would try it out and give me some feedback. All I get now are "give us a week" or "we are planning on trying it this weekend" the time rolls around and nothing happens. It has now reached the point of complete frustration.

For now, I have just been designing my next game and waiting to see if I hear anything. Every 2-3 weeks I send them a message asking for updates and I get the same response. Does anyone have any suggestions on what the next step should be? And am I being too anxious or is this normal?
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B C Z
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What does your contract say about 'time to market'?

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Andrew Walters
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"Normal" varies a lot from company to company. What you can do depends on the contract. That means someone needs to read the contract, and that may mean a lawyer. Is it an exclusive contract? Does it give you any rights or recourse? Does the contract obligate them to do anything at all?

Step one is to read the contract carefully.

Step two is probably writing a letter, asking them if they intend to do anything.

A lawyer can be a big help with both of these steps.

Good luck.
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Manchuwok
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Your post makes it sound like you signed a contract with them before they had evaluated your prototype. Surely that is not the case?

Ideally you will have an agreement with prospective publishers on how long they will have to evaluate your game before you shop it to other publishers (if they even request exclusivity). And you will also ideally have clear statements in the contract, once the game is signed, that clarify how long they have to bring the game to market before the rights revert back to you.
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Paul DeStefano
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They haven't licensed your game. They accepted your submission.

Allow one year.
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Sen-Foong Lim
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I'm thinking along the same lines as Geosphere. You signed some sort of agreement that this company is looking at your game as a prospective license, not that the game is guaranteed to get published.

6-12 months is entirely typical in this industry at the moment. I know it seems like a long time. And it is. Just remember that yours is probably not the only game in their docket. Also, if they are a smaller game company, they will likely have a day job and family to contend with as well. Even once the game is signed or a verbal / e-mail promise has been made to move to contract, patience will be a virtue you will have to work on. It takes a lot of work and behind-the-scenes effort to bring a game to market.

Sometimes it feels like you want to show the game to some other publisher, that you'd like Publisher A to basically sh!t or get off the pot, so to speak. To that effect, we often ask prospective publishers if they want exclusivity on the game. Exclusivity means this: we promise not to let another publisher have the game during this period of exclusivity, though we may discuss it, show it, or even playtest it with other publishers. The company with the exclusivity agreement has right of first refusal. That doesn't mean we should stop trying to line up other prospective publishers if the first one doesn't pan out.

If they do, we'll set a mutually agreed upon date after which we are free to show other publishers and the first publisher loses the right of first refusal. If a company wants some more time after that, we'll usually agree to it.

This generally helps everyone understand the parameters of the relationship and gives us an out. It protects our interests and prevents bad business from happening. Some companies get VERY cheesed off if you show a prototype to another publisher while they're considering it. It's good to have all that tabled up front, in the open.

If you're happy with that publisher looking at the game for a year, let it ride. Spend your time working on your NEXT game. I view every game out at a publisher as a child at university. Sure, I think about them from time to time, but they're pretty much on their own. It's when they come back home after I thought they had left the nest for good that I get miffed especially if I'm working on raising the other kids to the point where they're ready to be adults!

If you're not happy, and your contract allows, you can respectfully ask for the prototype back. Be clear in your communication with the company. Be timely, as well. Establish a clear line of communication and set the tone early on so that you're building bridges, not walls. You can also send them little updates about your playtest sessions of the game, new game ideas you have, etc. etc.

There's a lot more to getting a game published than just designing it!
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Mike L.
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It is a 2 year time to market after which all rights revert back to me. That would take another year and a half. And what you guys are saying is I should either wait it out or get a lawyer? cry Both sound terrible.

manchuwok wrote:
Your post makes it sound like you signed a contract with them before they had evaluated your prototype. Surely that is not the case?


There was a sort of elevator pitch, but you are correct they signed a contract before getting a hold of the prototype. I am told I got lucky.
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Nate K
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nitro9090 wrote:
There was a sort of elevator pitch, but you are correct they signed a contract before getting a hold of the prototype. I am told I got lucky.


What was the essence of that contract? You can shop around for other publishers if you are dissatisfied, but I wouldn't pull the plug on this first company until you have another interested party lined up.
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kurthl33t wrote:
nitro9090 wrote:
There was a sort of elevator pitch, but you are correct they signed a contract before getting a hold of the prototype. I am told I got lucky.


What was the essence of that contract? You can shop around for other publishers if you are dissatisfied, but I wouldn't pull the plug on this first company until you have another interested party lined up.


If he's signed a contract with a 2 years to market clause, I wouldn't go shopping it around at all unless his contract specifically says he can do that.

OP, you signed the deal, now there's not much you can do but live with it. Even if you could buy the rights back, they'd likely be asking for any investment funds they've put into anything they've done.
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Manchuwok
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nitro9090 wrote:
There was a sort of elevator pitch, but you are correct they signed a contract before getting a hold of the prototype. I am told I got lucky.


If your game is with a publisher who would do that, I'm not so sure you got lucky.

In any case, if you signed a contract saying they have two years to get it to market, then indeed you can do nothing for the next 18 months other than work on some other awesome designs!
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Paul DeStefano
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nitro9090 wrote:
I am told I got lucky.


You got taken.
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Mike L.
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manchuwok wrote:
nitro9090 wrote:
There was a sort of elevator pitch, but you are correct they signed a contract before getting a hold of the prototype. I am told I got lucky.


If your game is with a publisher who would do that, I'm not so sure you got lucky.

In any case, if you signed a contract saying they have two years to get it to market, then indeed you can do nothing for the next 18 months other than work on some other awesome designs!


That is the plan. I just wanted to know if the any of you very helpful BGGers had any other ideas up your sleeves.
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Paul DeStefano
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nitro9090 wrote:
manchuwok wrote:
nitro9090 wrote:
There was a sort of elevator pitch, but you are correct they signed a contract before getting a hold of the prototype. I am told I got lucky.


If your game is with a publisher who would do that, I'm not so sure you got lucky.

In any case, if you signed a contract saying they have two years to get it to market, then indeed you can do nothing for the next 18 months other than work on some other awesome designs!


That is the plan. I just wanted to know if the any of you very helpful BGGers had any other ideas up your sleeves.


Next time get a lawyer or at least someone in the business to look at whatever it is before signing it. As of right now, you're locked.
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nitro9090 wrote:
It is a 2 year time to market after which all rights revert back to me. That would take another year and a half. And what you guys are saying is I should either wait it out or get a lawyer? cry Both sound terrible.


There's the answer.

If there's no 'requirement to produce' clause then be prepared to have them sit on it for 2 years.
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Mike L.
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Geosphere wrote:

Next time get a lawyer or at least someone in the business to look at whatever it is before signing it. As of right now, you're locked.


Just wondering, have you heard of any alternate contract designs that publishers use that don't sign over the rights of a game for a period of time? Or are you saying, make sure there is a clause that says the game must be published? I would be surprised if those types of contracts come easily, especially for first time publishers like myself.
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Scott Nelson
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2 years for a game to come out is normal for a non-veteran. But, if they are not doing anything with it, they might have stalled your game in fear they already have something like it coming out, and didn't want the competition.
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Nate K
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nitro9090 wrote:
Geosphere wrote:

Next time get a lawyer or at least someone in the business to look at whatever it is before signing it. As of right now, you're locked.


Just wondering, have you heard of any alternate contract designs that publishers use that don't sign over the rights of a game for a period of time? Or are you saying, make sure there is a clause that says the game must be published? I would be surprised if those types of contracts come easily, especially for first time publishers like myself.


Some publishers--not all, mind you, but some--are willing to give the rights to the game back if you want to pursue other options. Jason Kotarski was able to get The Great Heartland Hauling Co. back from Cambridge Games Factory when Glory to Rome bumped their schedule back about six months. He talks about the experience on The State of Games podcast.
 
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Mike L.
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kurthl33t wrote:
nitro9090 wrote:
Geosphere wrote:

Next time get a lawyer or at least someone in the business to look at whatever it is before signing it. As of right now, you're locked.


Just wondering, have you heard of any alternate contract designs that publishers use that don't sign over the rights of a game for a period of time? Or are you saying, make sure there is a clause that says the game must be published? I would be surprised if those types of contracts come easily, especially for first time publishers like myself.


Some publishers--not all, mind you, but some--are willing to give the rights to the game back if you want to pursue other options. Jason Kotarski was able to get The Great Heartland Hauling Co. back from Cambridge Games Factory when Glory to Rome bumped their schedule back about six months. He talks about the experience on The State of Games podcast.


From what I understand so far, my goal at the moment shouldn't be to burn any bridges. So, I might as well ride it out as long as I have other games in the works and just debate whether my newer and better creations should go to the same company. Of course if it comes to a point where I no longer receive any contact from the company and I don't expect anything to come of all of this, then I may pull the plug.
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Paul DeStefano
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nitro9090 wrote:
Geosphere wrote:

Next time get a lawyer or at least someone in the business to look at whatever it is before signing it. As of right now, you're locked.


Just wondering, have you heard of any alternate contract designs that publishers use that don't sign over the rights of a game for a period of time?


Your game wasn't actually accepted for publication. You signed an exclusive submission agreement.

All contracts have negotiable bits.
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John "Omega" Williams
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Ok. Heres some insights that HOPEFULLY do not apply to your situation.

Depending on how your contract or sale of the game went. The company might have never intended to publish it. Ever.

Why?

To get rid of competition vs a game they are allready developing. To prevent you from selling it to some other company if they declined. And if you signed a royalty deal instead of a paycheck deal then you get nothing. And your game is buried in a landfill.

This happens more often than one would like to hope. But such is the gaming biz.

From the sounds of it though your game is in the "review hell" stage. Neither good nor bad. Review processes can take weeks or months.
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Ethan Larson
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Gigamic looked at one of mine for a year. Have patience with publishers.
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Morgan Dontanville
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Did you get an advance?
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Sen-Foong Lim
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So wait a minute...you signed a contract essentially giving the rights to your IP away for a two years, without anything in the positive in your column other than the hope (perhaps misplaced?) that the game gets published?

Wow.

Did you have anyone read it other than yourself?

While I generally have faith in the human race, I would at least ask for a rewrite of some clauses to allow some outs for both parties. It's acceptable and common practice for people to negotiate on how a contract is written up. Usually, a publisher sends us their standard one with our names inserted and we go over that with a fine tooth comb. We then rewrite clauses we don't agree with (e.g. increasing our royalties), add things we want (like name on boxes, thank you lists, free copies, etc.), guarantee some things like an advance against royalties or a signing bonus, etc. etc.

We don't want to come across like push overs OR too demanding. We want to come across as people who know what's up and who are good to work with.

I would probably never have signed the contract you did without some substantial guarantees, advances vs. royalties, and/or signing bonuses. By taking your design out of circulation, the company (whether they intend to publish the game or not) is effectively limiting your earning potential for that IP.

Protect yourself and your IPs, first and foremost.
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Mike L.
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OK, I am getting a lot of flak for making an agreement with a company to have my game published without any guarantees.

I assure you the deal I received was very good (compared to what I have read on BGG) and the fact that they didn't take a look at the game first, beyond what I described in an elevator pitch, makes the idea that they were out to remove my game from the gaming pool a bit ridiculous. I did read the contract carefully and made the appropriate adjustments to suit my needs and ensure everything is right therein.

The reason I wasn't extremely picky, was because first off I am new to all of this and second all I want at this moment in time is to have a game published. That is the first step to being a game designer and that leads to name recognition, which makes selling games to companies easier. I will worry about money later and if they steal my concept i can make sure they take a lot of flak for it. So, please stop scoffing, it is only a 2 year agreement and if things continue as they are I will simply take further business elsewhere.

For everyone else, I will be as patient as I can be and cross my fingers in the hopes that my game eventually moves forward.
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Derry Salewski
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If the deal you received was very good, then why are you posting here with issues about it?
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