Jump to content
  • Advertisement
Sign in to follow this  
Deimos72

Need pro help - Online dev-team approaching publishers

This topic is 3180 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

Hi, I'd really appreciate any time and help with this. Myself and an online friend have been making this game for a console and are almost done. I don't want to disclose anything about it, but let's just say hypothetically that it's a great game, looks and plays great and works perfectly on the hardware, it's big, fun and full of features, and we have no fear that the game itself is a winner, despite perhaps being a little violent. We've started e-mailing publishers for contact details, mentioning just the very basics like the genre, theme, platform and few key features, making it clear that the game is deeply developed and not just some scribble on a napkin, and just asking for specific contact details to pitch. We've had some very eager and friendly personal replies from big names so far, based on our small e-mail, so things are getting very exciting, but also very confusing for us. We've been so busy making this game that the other side of things have been neglected. As a team, we are ~5 developers based all over the world, pretty ordinary guys, only communicating through the internet. The team has a .COM domain and self-implied copyrights on the site, but, that's about it! And that's what we're worried about. Even though we feel our game is great and it's 100% original, it's because we're not all in the same rented office makeshift-studio with a logo out the front, a secretary to answer the phone and all the TMs, (R)s and (C)s everywhere, that we just won't get taken seriously, no matter how great our game might be. :( But in the meantime we do actually have a game ready to pitch, and time is marching on. How can we know if we're ready to make this approach? Is it worth renting an office, registering a proper business, hiring a secretary, buying a coffee machine and water cooler, etc. before we make this pitch? Are we being paranoid or are these real concerns? In all honesty, we really hope a publisher will help us get to this point and help us make everything proper, give us some advance to obtain certain things like proper copyrights, help us get registered as a business and up to scratch with everything. We have a "proposal" document we will share with publishers that explains our situation and how we'd like them to help us, trying to be honest and hoping that won't be our downfall. Are these realistic hopes? or should we take out loans, borrow cash and invest in taking care of these things before pitching? If so, what _exactly_ should we take care of in order to pitch? Can anyone recommend information and advice about exactly what publishers expect developers to have all in order before pitching their game project, beyond the actual game itself? Any experience with this? Thanks so much for reading. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Advertisement
At the very least you'll want a collaboration agreement setting out ownership, control, voting process among contributors, maybe an agreement to form an LLC contingent upon a good faith offer from a publisher, and what happens if things go south.

You'll also want to go ahead and register your copyright, and prepare a standard bilateral NDA that you can ask (of course there's a chance they'll refuse) publishers to sign before showing the product and documentation.

If you're confused about any of this give me a call or shoot me an e-mail.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by Deimos72what _exactly_ should we take care of in order to pitch? Can anyone recommend information and advice about exactly what publishers expect developers to have all in order before pitching their game project, beyond the actual game itself? Any experience with this?
Thanks so much for reading. :)

Frequently Asked Question #21.
http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson21.htm
Thanks for reading it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Frequently Asked Question #21.
http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson21.htm
Thanks for reading it.
I was just reading that now! :D So far a lot has been about trying to submit incomplete games and ideas, and other situations that don't really apply to our current circumstances, but I'm still reading through it all.

Quote:
...very least you'll want a collaboration agreement...also want to go ahead and register your copyright, and prepare a standard bilateral NDA...
Thanks for the reply. :)

I think I understand how the collaboration agreement stuff goes, but we don't really like the idea of a NDA by us, to put publishers under, because it would slow down the process, as well as potentially scare them off. It would take ages, time we don't have. Maybe that's naive and risky, but I guess it's a chance we're willing to take. Slowing down the process outweighs having our pitch media leaked. We're more concerned about copyright than leakage.

As for officially registering copyrights, I'm not sure how expensive that is but I don't believe we can currently afford to do that, especially considering there is no gaurantee the game will find a publisher, no matter how good the game is. Then that money is wasted, when I'm sure there are (though less secure) free alternatives to copyright protection, that should be sufficient enough at this stage of our pitch.

I think it would be better to go for whatever free alternative we can, however we can fortify that, and take our chances. What we will pitch initially is very basic plot and gameplay info, a video, screenshots and feature list. Once publishers see the "pitch" and should we have requests for our full "proposal" and playable demo, then we would definitely consider registering copyrights, talking to a lawyer and investing in a proper company for ourselves.

Would this be a sufficient happy-medium approach, at this point of the pitch?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1. Do you have a playable demo? I think that any pitch would contain at least a vertical slice showing the basic design of the game. You should also include a pitch doc that includes artwork, game overview, target demo and a proposed budget for completion.

2. Are you a licensed developer for the target console? PC and mobile doesn't really require that the platform manufacturere approve your game concept, but Sony, Nintendo and MSFT all require that your game meet TRC's and obtain concept approval. This might be a pre-requisite to getting funding from developers.

3. Have the team members memorialized their agreement in a writing? Copyright protection exists at the moment of creation. Filing in the US grants certain statuory rights, but their is no timeline for filing with the copyright office. Most register register the computer code when the game is published (this covers the audio visual elements as well) after it has been release. The cost to file in the US is $35 per application and can be done online. However, you will most likely need assignments from each of the team members to the entity you ultimately set up in order to establish a chain of title. Also if you used 3rd party development tools, you will need to make sure you can incorporate them into a commercial product under the license. Be wary of open source tools (expecially anything under GPLv3) as they may come with limitations that will scare off the publisher.

4. NDA's - publishers generally require that you sign their form. They should still be reviewed by a lawyer familiar with the applicable governing law.

5. Have you considered self-publishing alternatives? In this economic climate, you should expect to be disappointed by the publishers. It is a fact that less games are getting greenlit by publishers. It is not impossible, but a lot of developers are releasing games without publisher support.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by Deimos72
As for officially registering copyrights, I'm not sure how expensive that is but I don't believe we can currently afford to do that, especially considering there is no gaurantee the game will find a publisher, no matter how good the game is.


Well your game is copyrighted even if you don't register it. But if you want to officially register it, would you consider $35-65 expensive?

(I'm assuming US Copyright here, by the way)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by kdog77
...
1. That's all covered, and then some.
2. That's a tricky question, we do need a particular technical something to get the go-ahead from the console company itself, but we have discovered it's only a question of money and, if we can get published, will definitely happily pay to get it. Plus, we don't need funding for this development, it can be "gold" without the publisher or console-company paying us anything at all.
3. I trust my associate with my life, so I'm sure whatever legal agreements we need to manifest will be no problem. The question is, do we need to ensure the publishers of such agreements and in what form?
4. Another tricky question. We have 1 "NDA" from a publisher and I've read over it numerous times, it merely states a bunch of obvious things like "no business relationship exists, you can't sue us for a damn thing, if we don't publish your game then go away", etc. but it also says a lot of reassuring stuff too. Such a contract I'm more than happy to sign and fax away to them. Another type of "NDA" might state that we can't share our pitch with any other publisher, right? So "NDA" is a tricky and subjective term to throw around, it could imply many differing serious legal factors, subjective to the document itself. But if they are all like the one I've read so far, then wonderful.
5. We can't self-publish on this particular console.

Quote:
Original post by Rycross
would you consider $35-65 expensive?
Oh right, I was probably confused with trademark patent then. I'm not sure what $35-$65 copyrights, though, the title of the game? So it's $35-$65 for every little thing we want to copyright to the team, which itself also needs to have a copyright? All the character names, etc.?

Sorry if that's a silly question. Thanks for all the help!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Deimos wrote:

>I was just reading that now! :D So far a lot has been about trying to submit incomplete games and ideas, and other situations that don't really apply to our current circumstances, but I'm still reading through it all.

Yes, well, just ignore all the parts that don't apply to you, and then what's left does apply to you.

>we don't really like the idea of a NDA by us, to put publishers under,

Most publishers will want you to sign their submission agreement, actually.
http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson35.htm

>because it would slow down the process,
>It would take ages, time we don't have.

Don't try to rush things. And don't exaggerate things all out of proportion. You always exaggerate things so much, the whole universe is going to explode, and it'll be all your fault.

>as well as potentially scare them off.

Anybody that would be "scared off" by your asking them to sign a simple NDA (in the odd chance of someone who doesn't ask you to instead sign their submission agreement) is not somebody you want to do business with anyway.

>What we will pitch initially is very basic plot and gameplay info, a video, screenshots and feature list.

So you're planning to pitch "a non-interactive animation." You probably didn't follow the link from FAQ 21 to FAQ 11. You ought to take a look at the chart there. A non-interactive animation is a lot less likely to make for a successful submission than a fully interactive completed game. http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson11.htm

>we do need a particular technical something to get the go-ahead from console company itself,

IOW, your concept is for a console game and your team doesn't have professional experience so can't get the SDK. That's a huge problem. This is sounding less and less likely like your submission pitch can go well.

>but we have discovered it's only a question of money and, if we can get published, will definitely happily pay to get it.

Getting a development license from a platform holder is NOT "only a question of money." They have other requirements too.

>do we need to ensure the publishers of such agreements and in what form?

A publisher needs to know that your team is a bonafide business entity legally empowered to sell the thing you're offering them.

>Another type "NDA" might state that we can't share our pitch with any other publisher, right?

No.

>I'm not sure what $35-$65 copyrights, though, the title of the game? So it's $35-$65 for every little thing we want to copyright to the team, which itself also needs to have a copyright? All the character names, etc.?
>Sorry if that's a silly question.

You need to read about copyright and how it differs from trademark and patent.
http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson39.htm

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thanks Tom, but you've misunderstood some things.

First of all.
Quote:
You always exaggerate things so much, the whole universe is going to explode
Did you mean to say in general "IF you always exaggerate...", because I'm not aware I've exaggerated anything.

Quote:
So you're planning to pitch "a non-interactive animation."
I've already stated the game is playable at 99.9% complete. The line you quoted from me was reference to initial contact.

Quote:
your concept...can't get the SDK
It's not a concept anymore, and we've been able to develop using an SDK, it's not just the official one we need. I'm not a coder so I can't say for certain here, but to the best of my knowledge it can be obtained by us if we have the cash.

Quote:
team is a bonafide business entity legally empowered to sell the thing you're offering them
This is one of the issues, we're not a business, but I don't imagine it's hard to literally be "legally empowered to sell the thing you're offering them" since we own every byte and every pixel of it, there's no one else involved and no one we need to pay royalties to or anything like that. Surely a publisher, knowingly contacting a virgin indie team, would understand this.

So this brings me full circle to my original question, should I be taking care of these matters (which and to what degree) _before_ making an official pitch, or propose and hope that a publisher can meet us half-way and help us take care of these things? (keeping in mind our game is a> 99% done/playable & b> pretty good!)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
What console is it? Its more then money to get the devkit for any of the popular consoles. My experience is only with Nintendo but I'm sure Microsoft and Sony are the same. You need to have a physical office (not home office) that they can audit to see if its sufficently secure to hold the devkit. Even if you have the office and money they can still turn you down if they don't like the idea. Add to that your team has no other professional experience and you got a major uphill battle to make it as a console game. At the very least you are going to need a playable demo to have any kind of chance I think.

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!