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So, You Have Cool Game Ideas?

game company idea ideas development business it' new time
The reality of trying to sell your game idea to a developer.

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Kenn Hoekstra of Raven had sent this around a while back and I had it sitting on my desktop for a while and I finally decided to post it on my site so I can link to it whenever I receive email from folks who are interested in development and/or have cool ideas. So, without further delay, here it is...

To be honest, it's very VERY difficult for someone outside a game company to get their ideas past said company's front door.

For that matter, it's not all that easy to get a game company to look at your ideas if you work for them! There are a number of reasons for this:
  • The "Legal Reasons" that everyone speaks of revolve around legal possession of an idea. Let's say that a company had a similar idea a year ago and they've spent a million dollars or more developing that idea up until this point. The company says, "Sure, I'd love to hear your new, innovative game idea." It turns out the idea is the same as the one the company has been working on for the past year and, when the game comes out, you have a "he said/she said" lawsuit on your hands over whose idea the game was in the first place. That is a hassle that no company wants.
  • A lot of people don't understand the fundamentals of the games development business. They don't understand technology limitations, development times, financial concerns or any of the other headaches of developing a new product. Their idea proposals say things like, "You would recreate New York City to scale and have 4 million unique looking and sounding individuals that you can interact with and you can have 500,000 of them on the screen at the same time when you join them in Times Square for the New Year's Eve ball drop. That's when the aliens attack and severely damage the city, so all of the buildings have to be half-destroyed as the city is plunged into chaos and eternal night. Then you and your band of 10,000 resistance fighters lead the charge with 50 different weapons and squad based tactics and the game would toggle between first person, third person, top down and map views" and on and on and on and on and on... You see what I mean? A vast majority of game idea submissions suffer from this problem. I call it "Newbie Ambition." Game Development is mostly about figuring out "what cool stuff you can do in a limited time period with limited cash."
  • Another reason for not accepting game ideas is a question of who takes the risk? The game company is spending 2-3 million dollars on the development cycle for the game and, in turn, they are taking all of the risk. Why, then, should they pay someone from outside the company for their game idea when they aren't taking any of the risk? Generally speaking, every game company has more ideas of their own on the back burner than they will ever have time to produce and thus, there's no reason to accept outside ideas.
Think of it this way. Everyone at one time or another has tried to write a novel or has had a "great idea" for a novel. How many book publishers will take an idea for a novel if they have to do the writing or pay someone to do the writing? None. Therefore, the people with the ideas have to write the books. How many of them start writing? How many of them actually FINISH the novel? When they're finished, how many get published at all? And of those that are published, how many are published without changes made by the publisher? See what I mean?

Think of game companies as established entities in the entertainment business. Generally speaking, game companies think they know everything there is to know about gaming because they've paid their dues and worked their way to the top. Just as you won't sell a Star Wars sequel to George Lucas or a spec ops book to Tom Clancy, odds are you won't sell your big idea to a game developer. Sadly, it's just the nature of the business.

Now, if you DO want to get your idea made into a game, there are a couple of things you can do:
  • Get a job at a game company. If you're on the inside, your chances of getting your ideas noticed or accepted are much greater because most of the legalities disappear.
  • Get a team together and make the game yourself. If not the whole game, make a solid, working demo. This will show publishers that you're serious and it will give them something concrete to look at. Game development is a very visual business and it's a lot easier to judge a game idea from a demo than from a piece of paper or a wordy verbal description.
It's a great misnomer that game companies (or any companies for that matter) employ "idea people" or think tanks to push the company in bold new directions. Hard work and contribution to a greater goal or the greater good of a company is the only way to get anything done in the business world. That goes for your own company or any company you're working for. Unless, of course, your family owns the company... Then all bets are off on the hard work and contribution part.

Hope this helps!

Not © 2000, so feel free to reproduce as you see fit.


/ jhensen padilla
Apr 21 2012 01:23 PM
I got an idea for a new game of warriors orochi with the whole cast from soul calibur as guest characters. first the story as to be more complex between orochi's powers and soul edge and soul calibur. Second. There's got to be a character creation and weapon style creation with attack move creation. Third. Bigger maps better graphic better scenario also blood. And armor and cloth must show signs of battle damage as character must show signs of battle as do weapons lose cutting power from time to time and for that need to sharpend weapon in a blacksmith. Also if you find a weapon stronger than your own you can take the weapon to boost your own weapon's base attack bonus.
/ Deadmau5xX
May 16 2012 11:01 AM
For "Dead island" they should really put an add on that has more weapons, cars, zombies and an other island to play and search on. Beacuse its the best game i have ever played and I almost got everything but it started to get boring using the same stuff over again! The makers of "Dead island" did a very great job of makeing the game but should atleast put an add on for xbox marketplace and ps3 store!!
/ kokou812
Jun 03 2012 09:10 PM
if u played star wars republic commando they should make number 2 were u are the new clone and u can pick your own color-helm-armerand u can customize your gun were your rang-ammo thats what they should do
/ brian
Jun 21 2012 12:22 PM
no point really in puting anything about ur games its not like they really even take them into there minds as something they would ever try if u thank about it though they thank there giveing us all better games when they really r not look at the last few games that came out there were trash dragons age 2 trash call of duty 3 trash the list keeps going mybe its time u stop trying ur crapy ideas and actly try someone elses in the world u never now u my be suprised if ur intrested in my ideas hit me back cptpeepee
Jun 22 2012 02:49 PM
This is a crazy idea and will be a success story forsure. I'm sick and tried of the fighting. Naruto did a good job and assassin creed, grandtheif auto. Imagine they made a dragonball z game like that.
/ Annonimous
Jul 28 2012 08:12 AM
@JADDY the case is that they, if want to make that game, should buy the license from Anime/Manga makers of DBZ, so it wouldn't be so moneymaking business.
I have an idea, from which i shared some of the baselines to my friends and they were surprised why that kind of game isn't made. The game is based on a rich stroyline, many items to be used and made, and aslo there are some modifications to be made for your character (gender, eye colour, etc.)
/ dennis ryan
Aug 01 2012 11:04 AM
i've played all the star wars battlefront games but they were not that fun they should make a star wars battlefront 3 where you can go to every map that were announced in every movie or tv show of the series they should make it so you can custimize your character it should have more physics better graphics and for the first time ever it should show some blood and they should make the galactic conquest better and the campaign more understanding and it should let you go from ground to space to flagship it should be for psp ps3 xbox 360 and the 3ds they should make this game because the star wars games are the most popular game they made more star wars games than anyother game developed i hope they make a third battlefront game
Apr 27 2013 07:00 AM

Hello. If there are any of your readers who have played WC3 you probably know Winter Maul Wars. This map was extremly fun, even more fun than Dota IMO. I just don't see how such a great idea, hasn't been made a game yet. It's basically a gold mine waiting to get harvested. I can't be the only one who would like PvP tower defense. So basically if you don't know WMW it's a PVP Tower Defense game, where you send creatures to your enemies, who are supposed to get through their defenses. For each creature you send, you get a bigger amount of gold each time you get your income (Which is usually around each 20 seconds) that you can use to upgrade you towers or send more creeps. The cool thing about it, was that you created the path that the creeps walked. It's not like normal Tower Defenses, where the path is already created, nope. A creative mind could make insane mazes, and the game would never get old. Watch here: 

 it's a creative maze. I really hope there are some game developers out there who would fulfill my dreams, and create a game like that. I am sure i am not the only one out there who'd wish for a game like that.

Thanks for reading, and if you want me to elaborate something, just comment :)

You can also watch a 2v2 here: 

 which shows how the map was :)

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