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_winterdyne_

Lawyers... pah...

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New post in my journal for thost that have been following it. Anybody know any decent firms in the UK? I need to get some price comparisons. :-)

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List of Game Industry Lawyers.
The cost of experienced lawyers who specialise in the game industry is generally fairly high. What sort of problem are you having (pm me if you prefer). I may be able to give you some pointers.

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No major problems as such - for development of my projects (Primogen & Bloodspear) I need:

1) Asset Submission & Royalty Agreement for the retail assets.
2) EULA for the retail assets precluding resale or distribution outside of a game product.
3) Consultancy Agreement for core team members specifying profit share & various other rights.
4) EULAs for the licensable codebase & tools.
5) EULA for Bloodspear (& similar game services).

The first quote I've got back was the best part of £3500, which is (I think) around standard. Just need to do some shopping around now and see if I can get a lower quote whilst at the same time preparing a request for funding from a local media organisation (East Midlands Media).

Being incorporated and having solid contracts with our workforce (even if they're part time hobbyists) gives us a little weight as far as a pitch like this goes, I think (correct me if I'm wrong), but being visibly organised should help considerably.

Thanks Obscure, for your generous offer of pointers. I think it'd be a community-spirited thing to do to have them public - I know a lot of people want to do what I'm doing (setting up a games development firm and making a go of it), and although I'm lucky enough to be in a position to do it, being forewarned of the pitfalls and things that crop up in a venture like this is an advantage that everyone could benefit from. Hell, I'd like it if someone else had done it (just so I could know what's round the corner).

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Original post by _winterdyne_
Just need to do some shopping around now and see if I can get a lower quote whilst at the same time preparing a request for funding from a local media organisation (East Midlands Media).
How much are you hoping to apply for and are you matching it from existing (personal) resources or seeking to get it from another source?

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Well, for small startup companies that qualify, they offer what's basically a loan of 50% of expense to a maximum of £5k. An investment matching deal, in other words, the same as which you can get at your bank (if they like you), only at a much lower rate of interest. To be honest, we're probably not going to push for more than around £2000, which is half our budget for legal costs, although it may be more prudent to front up the legal fees at present without external help. First we need to evaluate exactly what they'll offer *us*.

Since our development is not exactly constant in terms of work flow, it's difficult to judge when finance is going to be needed in place, so I don't really want to be paying interest (even at a subsidised rate) on a loan that's taken too early. I'll speak with them about making further requests for help with subsequent expenses.

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You will need a plan to show how you will earn the money back but you also need to be able to show an alternative method of repayment should your product fail. Although EMM's remit is to support the local media companies the money it spends is European government money and investment cash and they are bound to loan it out to companies who can demonstrate an ability to repay (even if the project goes belly up).

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Now there's the fun part. Repayments if the project goes belly up would have to come from personal finance - something I can do, but is it worth taking the loan (and paying interest on it), when I could just pay for the initial expenses from my own investment anyway? EM Media can also convert the loan to equity in the firm (shareholding I presume), which may suit a larger firm.

It's a catch 22 of sorts - a 'rich' company can acquire a larger loan to amass liquid capital, because it can demonstrate the ability to liquidise other assets to pay off the loan should it need to.

Personally, I'm thinking along the lines of just fronting the cash personally, though I'm going to look for other sources of grants etc. The Prince's Trust however is out, as I'm too fecking old. ;-)

An interesting scheme that is available is the government's Small Firms Loan Guarantee Scheme. This boils down to the government guaranteeing 75% of the amount borrowed, for a premium of 2% PA of the amount outstanding. This is dependent on the lender accepting the firm for the loan (ie they have to think it's a valid proposition).

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Original post by _winterdyne_
Now there's the fun part. Repayments if the project goes belly up would have to come from personal finance - something I can do, but is it worth taking the loan (and paying interest on it), when I could just pay for the initial expenses from my own investment anyway?
The repayment terms can be pretty friendly (at least they were on the deal I did with them.

Quote:
EM Media can also convert the loan to equity in the firm (shareholding I presume), which may suit a larger firm.
Actually it is equity in the project - not the firm.

Quote:
It's a catch 22 of sorts - a 'rich' company can acquire a larger loan to amass liquid capital, because it can demonstrate the ability to liquidise other assets to pay off the loan should it need to.
Yes that is true but their point (like those of most banks and other investors) is that the success of your business should not rest on one role of the dice and that you should not be starting a company unless you have the start-up capital necessary.

Quote:
An interesting scheme that is available is the government's Small Firms Loan Guarantee Scheme. This boils down to the government guaranteeing 75% of the amount borrowed, for a premium of 2% PA of the amount outstanding. This is dependent on the lender accepting the firm for the loan (ie they have to think it's a valid proposition).
Basically the same as with EMM. You have to demonstrate a sound business case.

EMM is unlikely to approve an application that just gets you legal advice. You need to get enough money to actually make something (a prototype or even a full versions). Businesslink would be a much better bet as they often do grants to pay for consultants.

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The repayment terms can be pretty friendly (at least they were on the deal I did with them.


Yes, that agrees with the information I've obtained so far. It's a question of what to ask them for, and what to present in terms of supporting evidence.

Quote:

Actually it is equity in the project - not the firm.


Interesting - since our project touches on various areas, including the licensing of the codebase, and eventually the Bloodspear (and similar games) project, would this affect just the retail portion (which is intended to provide float capital for the rest of development) or everything on the table at the time we approach them?

Quote:

EMM is unlikely to approve an application that just gets you legal advice. You need to get enough money to actually make something (a prototype or even a full versions). Businesslink would be a much better bet as they often do grants to pay for consultants.


Would consultants in this case include lawyers? Our internal consultancy contracts specify capped profit shares, so the payment of 'core' staff working for us (as opposed to freelance asset creation which is royalty based) isn't that much of an issue. Later on a loan may be required (to ramp up hosting based on takeup from initial release), but the plan at present is to independently (personally) fund launch and hosting of the retail site, appropriate merchant services and a small game cluster, once a suitable prototype is ready.

If it's possible to shave a grand or so from the legal costs, it's basically freeing up finance to ramp up later.

In any case, part of the process now is some market research in terms of the business model - are our assets of good enough quality, and suitable specification to make them attractive to our target market of small to medium independent developers? Can we pitch them at an attractive price, that provides sufficient income to help drive the company? These questions need to be answered as part of putting forward the business plan to potential investors or funding organisations. Any pointers on good methods to answer these questions would be appreciated.


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I'm looking for a lawyer/solicitor to look over a publisher contract for a video game to explain what it says and to check I'm not signing my soul away, any suggestions/recommendations for a good UK lawyer/solicitor who understands the video game industry.

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Original post by Abbadon
I'm looking for a lawyer/solicitor to look over a publisher contract for a video game to explain what it says and to check I'm not signing my soul away, any suggestions/recommendations for a good UK lawyer/solicitor who understands the video game industry.



Dan Marchant posted a link in this thread. Scroll up and click it.
Good luck to you - that's great you have a contract!

Tom

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