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Velcro

Royalty Question

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Velcro    100
So I'm in negotiation with an independent PC game designing company and I have some questions that I can't really ask them so I thought I'd try these forums.

Here's the situation:

- They want to hire me on as the main game writer (story, dialogue, etc.) for their newest RPG on PC
- They're willing to pay me a small upfront sum or a royalty percentage of 2%
- They want to own the rights to the story
- They want me to write the game design document as well

I'm a little new to all of this but writing the script for the story, the game design document and allowing them to own the rights to the story seems a bit much for a meager 2%. I'm thinking about asking for 5%.

If you were in my shoes, what would you do?

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Tom Sloper    16040
[quote name='Velcro' timestamp='1313078574' post='4847733']
If you were in my shoes, what would you do?
[/quote]
I would say "I've decided I don't care about royalties. Pay me hourly instead."

And a nitpick: you say this is a "game designing company" you're talking to, but they apparently don't do any designing (they're hiring you to do that for them). Are they a publisher, or a developer (see [url="http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson28.htm"]glossary[/url])? And do they have a track record of releasing games in the past?

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Velcro    100
The company is called Dragonbite Studios. They are a game designer but this is one of two projects they're working on (nothing released yet). The guy I am in contact with says I am being hired as lead writer for the game so I won't be doing actual game design. I do think the addition of having to write the game design doc is a lot more work than just writing the story and character progression so I feel like I should ask for more than 2% royalties.

I wish they would pay me hourly but no they said only a small lump sum upfront or royalties. We are in negotiations so I feel I could benefit more by going the royalty route. A friend of mine also in the game business says I should ask for 5%.

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Tom Sloper    16040
[quote name='Velcro' timestamp='1313087743' post='4847818']
1. I wish they would pay me hourly but no they said only a small lump sum upfront or royalties.
2. I feel I could benefit more by going the royalty route.
3. A friend of mine also in the game business says I should ask for 5%.
[/quote]
1. Then you have the option of saying "no."
2. You "feel"? How about you do some math instead?
3. Great. He says 5%, I say hourly and 0%. It's still YOUR decision.

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Tom Sloper    16040
[quote name='Velcro' timestamp='1313087743' post='4847818']
The company is called Dragonbite Studios.[/quote]

Right.

[quote]site currently under construction current version of our game demo is up HERE [/quote]

Very confidence-building! :P

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kdog77    229
You are not asking the right questions Velcro. 2% of what? Unless they specify what your royalty rate is calculated off, then it is hard to tell you if their offer is fair or not. Tom is right. Money in hand is better than money down the road. What happens if they never release the game? You get nada. Now it's not uncommon for people to join projects on a profits sharing basis (especially in the indie world), but you better know what they are really offering (get it in writing) and how much you want to contribute for "free".

Regarding IP ownership you can do it as work for hire or under license, but it is not out of the question to request a reversion of rights if they fail to release the game or pay you money owed. You can also reserve the right to do derivatives and ancillary works (i.e. novels, film, etc.).

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Velcro    100
[quote name='kdog77' timestamp='1313097978' post='4847930']
You are not asking the right questions Velcro. 2% of what? Unless they specify what your royalty rate is calculated off, then it is hard to tell you if their offer is fair or not. Tom is right. Money in hand is better than money down the road. What happens if they never release the game? You get nada. Now it's not uncommon for people to join projects on a profits sharing basis (especially in the indie world), but you better know what they are really offering (get it in writing) and how much you want to contribute for "free".

Regarding IP ownership you can do it as work for hire or under license, but it is not out of the question to request a reversion of rights if they fail to release the game or pay you money owed. You can also reserve the right to do derivatives and ancillary works (i.e. novels, film, etc.).
[/quote]

Ok so after some more negotiating I am getting 5% of royalties based off of sales of the game (so every unit sold, I get 5%). They are putting together a contract for me to look over and sign. If it doesn't include something about me getting the rights back if they don't release the game, I'm going to fight to get that added in.

I'm going to ask for the option to work on novels or screenplays for the idea too.

Really appreciate the input, it's very helpful.

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code_zombie    165
You would be better off just writing a book yourself and self-publishing. I wouldn't deal with anybody who offers royalties. Content creators should get paid for the work they do. If they don't have the money to pay for the work, then it is likely not worth your time. Especially since they are asking for the copyrights to the material. You should never hand over copyrights unless you get paid handsomely for it. Copyrights last your entire life and years after you die. If anything, just offer them some sort of license to use it in the game.

I must say that I am always amazed how some people tend to get artists and writers on board to do a project based on royalties when they have no completed projects. I actually have commercial games I sell, and I have trouble finding people to do work for me for money.

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DarklyDreaming    367
Royalties is a [i]plus[/i] after already getting your upfront pay - the icing on the very much [i]iced cake! NOT [/i]an alternative to getting paid in cold hard cash....

If they can't pay upfront, they are not serious or ill budgeted - in which case your time is wasted and your likely never going to see any of that royalty cash (and, btw, if you worked for me or any other indie developer they would tell you flat that no royalties will be paid - [i]ever[/i] - because of the simple fact that 5% is a significant part of the total cash flow; also, 5% of what? Net earnings or..?)

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Obscure    175
I have to agree with DarklyDreaming.

This appears to be a "studio" with no track record and no money. Unless they have proven otherwise this is just the same as any other hobby project you will find in the Help Wanted forum. The chance of an unfunded project even getting finished are minimal and even if it ships there is only a tiny chance that it will make any meaningful money. In short you are basically working for free.

Also, as others have said, 5% of what? Retail, wholesale, gross sales, net sales?

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