Recommend
1 
 Thumb up
 Hide
4 Posts

BoardGameGeek» Forums » Board Game Design » Board Game Design

Subject: Publisher/Designer Business Arrangements rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Alex Retter
msg tools
Reading the forums, it seems like the predominant deal structure with publishers is one that looks something like the following. If the publisher likes what they see from the prototype they will take it for further playtesting. If the publisher decides it is a viable product, they will front all of the money, will make all creative choices (art, re-theme, mechanics changes/refinements), will contract the production, will provide warehousing and will be responsible for sales and distribution (although the creator may take part in the sales effort via conventions, etc.). The designer will get a royalty payment and credit as the game creator and the publisher will take whatever profit or loss comes with the game. I have two questions for those who have experience with this process and are willing to share:

1. Is my high level assessment directionally correct in how this generally works and if not where am I off?

2. Most interesting to me, have you seen other publisher/designer arrangements? Specifically, have you seen situations where designers front some portion of the money (say 50/50 for example) and are more active in other aspects of the process (obviously with a different economic deal than a royalty).
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John "Omega" Williams
United States
Kentwood
Michigan
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
1: Mostly correct. There is total variance from publisher to publisher.
A: Some publishers will offer royalties. Some offer an up front sum.
B: Some publishers want the absolute bare bones of a prototype. No art. Others, usually the smaller companies actively look for ready to print games.
C: Some companies absolutely will not touch a game if its been pre-published or posted anywhere on the net. Others actively look for these.

2: Ive seen a few companies force submissions through the equivalent of temp agencies. And you have to pay THEM for even a chance to have a game looked at. And you have to pay every time, each game in the worst of these. Avoid those like the black plague. You can and likely will spend more than you would get back. Unless it is a self published game it is rare for a publisher to ask the designer to fork out cash. They are supposed to be buying your game. Unless they are hiring you on full time. And even then Id watch out.

3: Take note that a rare few of the bigger and even one or two smaller companies have a "You submit it. We own it" clause to curtail rampant pestering. At least two have a "You work for us. We own all you make." clause.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Alex Retter
msg tools
Omega2064 wrote:
1: Mostly correct. There is total variance from publisher to publisher.
A: Some publishers will offer royalties. Some offer an up front sum.
B: Some publishers want the absolute bare bones of a prototype. No art. Others, usually the smaller companies actively look for ready to print games.
C: Some companies absolutely will not touch a game if its been pre-published or posted anywhere on the net. Others actively look for these.

2: Ive seen a few companies force submissions through the equivalent of temp agencies. And you have to pay THEM for even a chance to have a game looked at. And you have to pay every time, each game in the worst of these. Avoid those like the black plague. You can and likely will spend more than you would get back. Unless it is a self published game it is rare for a publisher to ask the designer to fork out cash. They are supposed to be buying your game. Unless they are hiring you on full time. And even then Id watch out.

3: Take note that a rare few of the bigger and even one or two smaller companies have a "You submit it. We own it" clause to curtail rampant pestering. At least two have a "You work for us. We own all you make." clause.


Thanks for the incite, it is vey helpful.

Game design is a hobby I have recently began taking much more seriously, so I hope to publish in the future. I am also having fun getting up to speed with how the publishing process works. Right now it seems a bit like the Wild West, but that makes it interesting. I have seen what you refer to regarding if you submit it, we own it. Not a lawyer, so I have no idea whether just putting this on your website makes it enforceable. Either way, I have just looked at this as saying "We are not accepting submissions." Is there any other way to read that?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John "Omega" Williams
United States
Kentwood
Michigan
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Alex Retter wrote:
I have seen what you refer to regarding if you submit it, we own it. Not a lawyer, so I have no idea whether just putting this on your website makes it enforceable. Either way, I have just looked at this as saying "We are not accepting submissions." Is there any other way to read that?


It is enforceable as you are effectively signing a waiver by submitting the game and giving up certain rights flat out. You tend to see this mostly with the bigger companies that are more than full up and/or have their own special methods if you want to submit something. Think of it as an intelligence test. Its pretty much there to curb submissions.

And to add to the morass.

Some companies also have a "You submit it. You agree that we may be already working on something a-lot like this now or later." Which can be read to mean the company isn't above swiping a design and not paying the submitter by claiming "we was already doing that." FFG pulled this stunt a year or two back. Does not matter if it was true or not. It looks very suspicious. Moreso when they claim this more than once on different games.

If you are going self publishing then there is a different set of hurdles to overcome than going with selling to a publisher.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
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.