Jump to content
  • Advertisement
Sign in to follow this  
Wutalife37

The Blurry Line between Free and Commercial

This topic is 4360 days old which is more than the 365 day threshold we allow for new replies. Please post a new topic.

If you intended to correct an error in the post then please contact us.

Recommended Posts

Hey everyone. I'm working on a computer game that I intend to make free, but I have a few questions about where you draw the line between "free" and "commercial". For example, if I receive voluntary donations, is it still a free game? If I receive voluntary donations, and offer them a free t-shirt in return, is it still a free game? If I receive voluntary donations, and offer them a few upgrades to their account like weapons, armor, etc, is it still a free game, or commercial? If I receive voluntary donations and in return give them a "premium account", is it still free, or commercial? Thanks!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Advertisement
As long as you do not charge for the game, it is free.

Making it free software is another matter: a program can be both free software and commercial software.

EDIT: giving something in exchange for donations that cannot be obtained otherwise amounts to charging for it. Therefore, the parts of your game obtained through donations are not free, so make sure that only a subset of the game features are free (and not the entire game).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
wutaquestion:
>For example, if I receive voluntary donations, is it still a free game?

The people who didn't give you any donations have a free game. The others don't.

>If I receive voluntary donations, and offer them a free t-shirt in return, is it still a free game?

The people who have the game have a free game. The ones who have a T-shirt bought the T-shirt.

>If I receive voluntary donations, and offer them a few upgrades to their account like weapons, armor, etc, is it still a free game, or commercial?

The upgrades are commercial. The game itself is free.

>If I receive voluntary donations and in return give them a "premium account", is it still free, or commercial?

The game itself is free. The account is commercial.

See, that isn't so hard! :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ok, I think I get it. So if I use a licensed program stating I can only use it for the development of free games, at what point am I breaking the law?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by Wutalife37
Ok, I think I get it. So if I use a licensed program stating I can only use it for the development of free games, at what point am I breaking the law?

Any point where you charge for part of the game.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Actually, in general they define it more specifically than that, and as such most licenses that do allow free-use for "non-commercial purposes" would not be able to be used in some of the situations you mentioned:

1. Accepting donations ... does not make your game commercial, it is you, the company that are accepting donations, and that has nothing specific to do with the game.

2. Selling branded merhandise of the same brand as the game ... does not make your game commercial ... your company and brand are commercial, but the game engine is not used in the t-shirt or the action figures, so their is no problem at all. The game is 100% non-commercial.

3. Selling upgrade items. These are part of the game and so, while the base game is still "free", the upgrade game is "commercial" so you would be violating nearly any "free-only" clause by offering such. This would still be a violation if the "upgrade" was given "free" with a "donation" ... the label you use can sometimes matter in court, but is not the primary thing used to evaluate the type of transaction.

4. Offering premium accounts. Likewise this would make your game commercial in the eyes of the licence holder, since you receive money for an element in which their technology is used.

Even ad revenue makes your game commercial in the eyes of many licenses (although this varies for each license).

So if you sell an in-game billboard to the coca-cola company, you have violated your "non-commercial" license.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
wutaquestion:
>Ok, I think I get it. So if I use a licensed program stating I can only use it for the development of free games, at what point am I breaking the law?

Geez, nice of you to drop your REAL question on us only after we replied to your red herring question! Led us down the primrose path, you did.

Xai gave you the answer to your REAL question.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You can always offer a CD and charge for the cost of the medium and the delivery. I think licenses like GPL contemplate this as long as you always offer the very same material non-commercially and available for download.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by owl
You can always offer a CD and charge for the cost of the medium and the delivery. I think licenses like GPL contemplate this as long as you always offer the very same material non-commercially and available for download.

You can even make a profit from the discs. :-)

If you have license questions, there are really two good sources to go:

1) Contact the software owners. They can tell you what their intent was. They will probably be friendly. Even if they tell you that you can't use their licensed version for what you want, they might give you a different license that you pay a royalty or one-time cost for. If they are happy with what you are doing with their stuff, they won't sue*.

2) Contact a lawyer. If the software owners get upset with you and decide to sue* then you will at least know going in that you are probably on solid legal ground.


* Note: People can take you to court for any reason they can imagine; some people are very creative! It doesn't mean either side will win in court, or that either side is actually 'right', and being able to win doesn't mean it is morally acceptable. Either way it goes, it means that you will need to empty your piggy bank.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Advertisement
×

Important Information

By using GameDev.net, you agree to our community Guidelines, Terms of Use, and Privacy Policy.

We are the game development community.

Whether you are an indie, hobbyist, AAA developer, or just trying to learn, GameDev.net is the place for you to learn, share, and connect with the games industry. Learn more About Us or sign up!

Sign me up!