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DHunter

Contracts, splitting revenue, registering...

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Hi! I have a few questions regarding publishing I was hoping someone who has gone through all this could answer... We're currently finishing our first game. It is a logic/puzzle casual game, and we are starting to look for a publisher. 'We' are a graphics designer and myself, the programmer. After finishing the first demo of the game(the game was practically finished, in my opinion), I'd sent it to a few publishers, and they mostly responded that I should find a professional graphics designer :) Since I'm a student and practically don't have a budget, the artist and I have come to the agreement to split the revenue - a percentage to me, and a percentage to him. Now we're finishing our second demo (this time I hope the game actually is complete), but now I have come to a lot of questions. First of all, how is it legally done? I mean, how do we specify who gets what amount of revenue? Should it be stated in the contract with the publisher, or should it be a contract between us? Do I need to register a company? Also, now we need to get some music. We wanted to pay a composer in cash. Does he need to sign a contract with us for that? If yes, who would he need to sign a contract with? Me, us both, or must I have a company? What if I just buy the music from one of the 'buyout' internet sites? On the other hand, I've seen a few of the shareware publishers offer 'development assistance'. Is it common for them to provide the music? I know they will deduct this from our revenue, but it is currently a better option than cash. I'm asking here first, before going to a lawyer because it's going to cost a lot, so I was hoping I could get some basic answers here, and then hire a lawyer only after we find a publisher... Thanks, -Ivan Galic

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I can only answer a very small subset of your questions, but hopefully with the easy stuff out of the way, you can focus on the bigger questions.

1. You do not "need" to form a company, you can do business as a sole-proprietor or partnership.

2. You do need a contract between you and the artist. A simple piece of paper signed by you both stating consisely and VERY clearly what your agreement is should be sufficient. You will need to decide if you want to form a partnership with them, simply specifying the core income / profit split, or if you would rather have them sign over the rights for the art to you in exchange for a percentage ownership of the property (title) - please be very clear how this ownership transfers (or doesn't) in the future (other projects, add-ons, etc).

Then you (or the partnership / company) will have full rights to deal with a publisher. They do NOT want to deal with multiple seperate entities with undefined rights and ownership.

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Quote:
Original post by DHunter
First of all, how is it legally done? I mean, how do we specify who gets what amount of revenue? Should it be stated in the contract with the publisher, or should it be a contract between us? Do I need to register a company?

You don't need to register a company but you do need a contract between you and the artist, specifying what percentage each of you gets. It should also include an assignment of rights granting you the right to use the graphics in the game. This is important because the vast majority of publisher's contracts will have a clause that requires you to own the rights or to have a license for the rights so that you can grant them similar rights.

Quote:
Also, now we need to get some music. We wanted to pay a composer in cash. Does he need to sign a contract with us for that? If yes, who would he need to sign a contract with? Me, us both, or must I have a company?

You could do a deal without a contract but it is a very bad way to do business. If something goes wrong you end up screwed.

The contract can be between you and him - the only issue is who pays for the music and is that reflected in the royalty % split?

Quote:
What if I just buy the music from one of the 'buyout' internet sites? On the other hand, I've seen a few of the shareware publishers offer 'development assistance'. Is it common for them to provide the music? I know they will deduct this from our revenue, but it is currently a better option than cash.
You could buy it from a website - just make sure the music is available for use in your commercial product.

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