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How many got screwed by publishers ?

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Ok this might be a bit controversial, but how many developers here ever got screwed or felt screwed by publishers? Will you sign exclusive publishing deals for your completed game with your publisher for no upfront advance ? How do you know they''re not ripping you off or know they are? How are you gonna audit their accounts when u need to spend money to do so ? How do you even take legal action when you can''t afford a lawyer ? Seems to be, all indie developers are at the mercy of publishers especially if developers and publishers are from different countries. I got a feeling more than 60 percent of publishers will screw developers either with/without their knowledge.

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The system is, as you imply, open to abuse. However there are things you can do to safehuard yourself.
Always insist on having the right to audit the publishers books, But if you absolutely cant afford to do that, make sure you have an independent way of tracking sales. If you get people to register their game with you after purchase, maybe as part of a prize draw, or as a requirement for tech support from you, then you have an idea of how many peole are buying the game, and alarm bells can ring if you get more registration emails than the publisher claims sales!
Keep the publisher informed of other games you are working on, nobody wants to screw an extra $100 out of an indie developer if that means getting caught and blowing a potential $1000 from the same developers next game...
Make sure the publisher gives you exact sales figures, and a breakdown of what was sold where, not just a cheque each month.
Most importantly, make sure you share your experience with publishers (good AND bad) with fellow indie developers. GameDev is a good forum for this, especially the irc channel.
It is a minefield, and NOT one we should have to deal with(dealing with the Directx SDK is bad enough), but we do, so keep your eyes open...


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