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How to sell a game idea?

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I´ve got a great idea for a multiplayer internet game. The problem is I am not a programmer. How does one go about selling a gaming idea to a big company? The game is very ambitious so it would need a company with a lot of resources to develop it. Any suggestions?

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So here''s the problem, and I mean this in the kindest sense.
There are 100''s of 1000''s of good game ideas out there. Really great ideas. Unfortunatly all the capable development teams are allready working on what they consider good ideas. They do not want/need yours. In fact most companies will be upset if you send them a design document or game idea because they can be held liable if something from your design is allready in one of their games or is used in someo of their later games.

Chances are you arn''t going to be able to sell the idea. It''s not worth much, what is worth something is the ability to deliver that game. If you have a development team capable of implementing your idea, and maby have a working demo to prove it. That''s something marketable, then you can sart looking for VC funding to start your project. Still in todays economy that''s a tough sell.

My reccomendation would be to look for some independant developers that might be interested in helping you. If that doesn''t pan out (and it probably wont) and you are serious about doing this project. Take a VB class at your local community college, then try Blitz Basic and see if you can make a demo. It will be alot easier to recruit other programmers if you have programming knowlege and a working demo.

Good luck

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The short answer
Forget it. There is zero chance of anyone buying your game idea. Any developer that doesn''t have enough ideas of its own probably wont be around long enough to make your game anyway.

The long answer

In general publishers and developers do not accept submissions for the following reasons.

1. Legal - Many people seeking to submit designs are under 18 years of age. This would cause legal complications that most companies would rather avoid.

2. From an industry point of view an idea is of zero value without a development team to actually make the game. It doesn''t matter if it really is the best idea in the world because until it is made into a game it can''t be sold and thus has no value. At least 25% of the staff within any given development team have an idea they would like to turn into a game. This means that every developer has more game ideas than they will EVER be able to produce so they don''t need yours. Because they don''t need it, it is of no value to them.

3. The people in control of game design have generally worked for years in the industry, waiting for the chance to make their game. They will not give up that chance in order to make yours, especially if you have no experience of the development process. Obviously they have faith in their idea, just as you do in yours, so they won''t want to take a risk on your idea when they "know" that theirs will be a success.

4. From a purely business point of view it does not make sense for them to pay for your idea when they can use their own for free. - And no, offering it to them for nothing will not work either. If you are giving it away it can''t be worth anything. Besides many of them will not want to take even the smallest risk that you come back when the game is a huge success and try to claim the rewards.

5. Lastly there is the statistical probability that your game is actually of no use anyway. In the fourteen years I have been in the industry 99.9% of the ideas sent in by members of the public fell into one of the following categories:
1. "I want to do game X but better". - a clone of an existing game.
2. A few pages of text that tell a little story, which provide no useful details from which a game can actually be made. (An idea not a design).
3. Technically impossible to develop using current technology.
4. So huge that it simply would not be commercially viable.
5. The deranged crayon scrawl of a ten-year-old.
6. Plain old rubbish.

Yes there may be the .01% that are great but most publishers/developers receive hundreds of submissions a year and it isn''t financially viable to invest the time needed to find the jewel in the rough because if they could find it they would still have to turn it into a game which brings you back to all the problems above.

The following is from the Eidos web site:

"Regarding design submissions by individuals
..........it is very unlikely that we would take an interest in a design or storyboard from anyone but a well-established developer with the programming and graphics resources to develop the title in question."

and this from the Bioware site
At this time, BioWare Corp. is not in the business of developing or publishing outside proposals or submissions for new games or software products. As a result, all unsolicited submissions, proposals or ideas relating to game concepts, story ideas, or other proposals cannot be accepted and will be destroyed upon receipt.

Whether stated publicly on the web site of not, this is pretty much standard practice throughout the industry.

Dan Marchant
Obscure Productions

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tell you what, Send me $100 U.S and I will *look* at your idea.

Sorry, Everyone has ideas.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Don''t look too far:


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I don''t think you can copyright an idea. So, if you can''t materialize it in the form of a product you just can''t sell it because nobody buy ideas. Maybe you could find a job in the creative department of game company.

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From the site FAQ:

Q: How much can I get for this great game idea I've got? Who do I sell it to?

A: I was tempted to put this under the "not-particularly-thoughtful" questions category but people who ask it are all so earnest. So let me turn the question around and ask it back to you, "Can you think of any other creative endevour where people get paid to come up with just the idea of what a particular creation should be? Movies? Books? TV Shows? No, and video games are no different. In fact, the gaming industry might be even more harsh because you can sometimes sell a movie based on nothing more than a really good script treatment of the movie. In the game industry a really good idea plus a complete design document would not be enough for most publishers. Most are going to need to see a rough implementation of the game before they would give you a penny of funding.

Also, "sell" is a funny term but it comes up a lot. No publisher I've ever seen is interested in "buying" a game on which to work. They might be interested in funding your team to develop it provided you've got: a good idea, a great design document and a significant start on the game already. But you aren't going to "sell" any idea to any publisher and just walk away counting your money.

If you still think you can sell your game idea, try reading the articles below:

[edited by - michalson on August 17, 2002 11:28:52 AM]

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