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Hello people, I''d like to hear about your experience with agents. What types of responsibilities have they taken on for your projects and what payment deal have you negotiated (percentage of publishing deal, contact-based salary, etc.)? I''m not asking for an explanation of what agents typically do. I know what they do. I''m just curious to hear what some of your specific experiences have been and what kind of payment deal you''ve worked out. Thanks! R.

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I talked to a Real, Live Hollywood Agent on the phone a couple of times. I had his name from a True Veteran of the Industry that had worked with him before, so he came highly recommended.

We chatted about modern poetry, some of the TV shows he had agented, his articles that he had on his web page, and about how successful online-only games are still pretty much a Mystery of the Universe. He was friendly, well-informed about computer games (if not about multi-player games), and seemed a great guy. I would''ve loved to work with him.

But, frankly, he wasn''t sure what he could offer, and I wasn''t sure what I would use him for. So nothing ever came of it.

I don''t think your "normal" agent is suited to game development. Primarily because game development doesn''t hinge on a single person or a single idea. It''s a team effort. And agent-ing a team isn''t the same as agent-ing an individual (e.g., an actor or the creator of a new cartoon).

You''re better off learning how to pitch a game (and your team) to a publisher directly.


DavidRM
Samu Games

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Oh, I meant a game agent who would represent a development team and use their contacts to pitch your project to publishers, not a typical TV or film agent. This is what I''m currently evaluating. Just wanted to know if anyone had used a game agent to broker a publishing deal and what their experience was.

Thanks.

R.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
We started out partnering with a fairly well know game agent, the idea was good, they place the product and take a 15% commission on the deal. Seemed fair as we were new, didn''t know anyone and needed a way in. However in the end things went very wrong, we were screwed over by them and it cost us a huge amount of money.

The main problem was this agent also had a lot of other clients and also started employing its OWN developers which created a huge conflict of interests. We have even heard of this agent taking clients concepts and using their own in-house people to copy them and place their own game instead of their clients.

Things moved on from there for other clients of this company to the point where they got involved with a publisher and were effectively placing all their clients products with this publisher, even if it was not in the clients best interests to do so.

Now this is one bad experience with one bad agent, I know there are some decent ones around.

My advice is this.


If you go for an agent make sure you only pay commission on those deals the agent actually completes, and only then on actual monies recieved from that deal.

Make sure the agent is ONLY an agent and that they do not have publishing or development interests elsewhere. Get in on the business side of it with the agent as well, it will help you learn so that at some stage you can do the product placement yourself.

Finally, above all else, get EVERYTHING in contract.

Thats my 2 pennies worth

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I''ve had initial meetings with a few game agents, including an agent at a "volume" agency that deals with many, many studios, and two more "exclusive" agents who work with only select studios.

The exclusive agents tend to only represent 3 or 4 studios at a time, and it is nearly as challenging to get the agent to agree to work for you as it is to get a publisher to fund a project. These exclusive agents generally have tight relationships with at least one publisher, since they usually used to work for the publisher. One of these exclusive agents was recommended by a publisher we''d been talking to directly. I did some asking around, talking to other folks in the industry about these guys. I got very good feedback on both of the exclusive agents, while nobody had heard of the agent from the volume agency.

I believe you may strike a better deal (or even a deal at all) if you work with an exclusive agent instead of a "volume" agent or agency. Certainly, AP had a bad experience with a volume agency.

One problem is, the better agents tend to hide. Only one of the three exclusive agents I''m aware of had information available on the web. The listed phone number was voice mail only, and he never returned my calls. The two that I did contact do not publicize their contact information. I was just in the right place at the right time, or knew the right person, to get phone numbers.

Your best bet for finding an exclusive agent may be to attend E3 and go to the sessions on obtaining publishing contracts in the industry. Usually, these sessions are run by agents. At least agents always participate in them.

The agent contracts do tend to be as AP stated, a percentage commission on the deal. One of our draft contracts was for 10% of the development budget + 10% of royalties. They were willing to lower that percentage for the case where we already had a relationship with the publisher (we have contacts at two major publishers, but no experience negotiating a game development contract). I think one of the other contracts may have been 15% of development budget only, and a lower percentage on royalties.

The other problem with exclusive agents is that perhaps people won''t share their contact information too quickly. I know I''m not willing to give out contact information. Since I may be in competition with folks here to secure the services of a particular agent. Even ignoring the competition, since these agents don''t want to be easily found, it might piss them off if I provide their contact info.

Oh well, hope this gives you at least another opinion, and some additional ideas about agents.

Graham Rhodes
Senior Scientist
Applied Research Associates, Inc.

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