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The Lion King

Selling games to the publishers

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When a company develops a game, if I am correct, they sell them to the publishers. I wonder how much money do the publishers give them or what are the deals between the companies. I want to know maximum possibilities from commercial games such as DOOM3 and HALF-LIFE2 (Sold a million before their release) and independent games developed by us independent developers. And one more advise is needed ... if a team of developers is working on a game ... and they sell it ... what will be the amount percentage to be divided (the total amount earned through that game) among the team members. But here I am considering dividing the team into three catogeries, namely: 1 - Programmers 2 - Graphics People 3 - Sound / Music People Ofcourse the amount in each catogery can be easliy divided according to the contribution of each member. But I just want to know the exact percentage amount if the above three are the catogeries.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Yes, you asked questions that were vague, far too wide ranging and you failed to provide any meaningful information. To answer them people would either have to spend a lot of time/effort or just post quick (but fairly meaningless) answers. Neither is a good solution so people tend not to bother answering.

Ask questions about the specific game you intend to make, rather than big vague questions about the whole industry. State what genre, price point, format, the development budget and all the other relevant issues that will help people to understand your product and to provide a proper meaningful answer (without having to spend ages describing all possible deals throughout the industry).

Can't be bothered to log in.

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There's two main ways to get money from publishers:

1) You get advances on royalties to develop the game. This is only really an option is you've already had a hit game and the game you're developing is good. You will need a very good demo to get anywhere though. The downside to this is that you may never see any royalty payments. Your advance has to be paid back from the royalties you earn. So, with this system, when the advance has been paid off, the publisher has made a fortune. It's very heavily weighted in the publisher's favour. It has been argued that this method has led to many developers going bust because they run out of cash whilst waiting for the royalties (which can be months) even if the game has sold very well.

2) You don't take any advance payments and just go for royalties. You can get a better cut this way but you will need a complete game.

The only other method is to threaten to feed their mother-in-law to the Ravenous Blugbatter Beast of Traal, but this is a long and complicated process involving bureaucracy of infinte complexity.

As for the split paid to team members - that is entirely up to you - provided you set out the terms clearly in writing before you approach anyone. That way, you can avoid nasty disputes later on. Generally, the people who put the most in will get the most out. If you pay people up front to do the work then there's no real reason to give them any cut of the profits - provided you have a contract that sets this out. If people do work for free then they would be entitled to a larger cut of the pie, again, make sure you have a contract that states this. It's entirely up to you.

Skizz

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Hi Lion King - Check out this book. I've read it myself; it covers everything about making a game from the business end of things for indie developers.

Regarding how publishers and developers split the revenues of game sales, that varies by too many factors to get into here. You can shop around; for a newbie developer, I've seen anywhere from 50-50 to 60-40 (in favor of the developer), depending on circumstances, and after publisher's expenses and so forth, and make sure you retain the copyrights. I'm speaking about smaller-scale publishers here (bigger, more corporate publishers likely won't touch anything by a newbie). Ask some publishers to send you a sample contract to get an idea of what to expect; they're generally more than happy to comply, though I recommend waiting until you're ready to deal with publishers before you initiate contact.

As far as splitting percentages between yourself and your staff, well, that's up to you and is almost as involved as the previous question. Read the book - it covers this and more in depth - you won't be sorry!

Best wishes. :)

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Most games companies don't develop a game and then sell it to the publishers - the publishers offer contracts which the games companies take to develop the game. The games companies themselves very rarely create original titles/content because unless your ID or Valve then its almost impossible to finance. A publisher will buy a license to the latest movie/sports star/fad and then hire a game developer to write the actual game. Half the time the company that actually wrote the game gets no credit and the publisher themselves take all the fame (and most of the money).

So while a few large companies that are well known develop their own games and publishers jump at the chance to sell the games its actually a rare occurance - most of the time publishers come up with the ideas then offer the developers a contract.

And least thats what happens round here

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Kaysik -
Quote:

Most games companies don't develop a game and then sell it to the publishers - the publishers offer contracts which the games companies take to develop the game

This usually applies if the developer has already a track-record of producing games that sell well. If this is not the case, then the developer has to have a completed game to take to the publisher.
Quote:

The games companies themselves very rarely create original titles/content because unless your ID or Valve then its almost impossible to finance.

To some extent this is valid but imo, it depends on what market the games company is developing for - sure, big companies have shown their worth to their investors and don't neccessarily need to create original titles but there are still opportunities for the smaller companies to shine through...it just means more hard work in creating as good a game as you can.
Quote:

A publisher will buy a license to the latest movie/sports star/fad and then hire a game developer to write the actual game. Half the time the company that actually wrote the game gets no credit and the publisher themselves take all the fame (and most of the money

The company usually will get the credit..they just won't own the IP as the publisher will have paid some money up front, perhaps, and will give whatever share of the royalties was agreed upon.
Quote:

So while a few large companies that are well known develop their own games and publishers jump at the chance to sell the games its actually a rare occurance - most of the time publishers come up with the ideas then offer the developers a contract.

I agree to an extent but, again, it depends on the market and both what the publisher and the developer wants to achieve.

Our experience has shown us that if your first game is of high quality and plays well, then the publisher will come back to you to develop more games, regardless if it's the developer's own IP or not. In our case, our market is mobile games and, even although our first game is not due to be launched until sometime this month, we have already been approached by the same publisher to do a licensed game as well as develop our other orginal game ideas. Now, ok, mobile games are not in the same league as pc/console etc but it's a market that is growing rapidly and thriving and where originality still counts as something that can be sold. Having said that though, with the big companies now approaching this market themselves, there may come a time where originality in mobile games gets increasingly edged out.

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kaysik,

What you wrote is only true of the larger publishing companies such as EA and the like. There is another game market for small development studios, who are anywhere from one to several guys working together in their garages or apartments. Making a game of your own creative desires can be done in your spare time, and anyone with the skills and creativity can succeed and make a very decent full-time living out of it. But it's a bigger risk than simply getting hired by a big company for a paid salary and benefits, working on whatever the publisher wants. The book I linked to above goes into detail about it.

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