Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
If, on the other hand, the main appeal of your game is the overall gameplay (which can't be copyrighted or
trademarked, at least not without difficulty), and it's not deeply original, it may be worth letting the publisher
control the intellectual property in exchange for more revenue.
Figure 11-5: Characters in Hatch, a game with great merchandising potential.
In any case, when you do negotiate with a publisher, be prepared to bring a lawyer. “I would never sign an
agreement with a publisher without going through a lawyer,” Smith says, “which we reserve for only the most
important things such as this. A good lawyer will be able to spot red flags. Heated topics may include owner-
ship over the IP [and] whether the publisher is required to support the product or can opt to bail if they change
their mind. Ditto for the developer—whether and how the publisher can suggest and enforce changes, and com-
plicated and conditional revenue share formulas that leave various loopholes under weird conditions. I prefer
agreements that put everyone in the same boat, succeeding if the game succeeds and failing if it fails. Watch for
contracts where the publisher can let your game fall down without any risk or cost to themselves.
When you do approach a publisher, advises Smith, bring “a prototype that demonstrates both the promise of
the idea you want to create and your team's capability of delivering it. These will put you in a much better po-
sition to discuss and negotiate than a slide presentation that supposedly describes an idea they should put their
precious weight behind.”
And finally from Smith (but probably most importantly): “When looking for a publisher, I personally would
seek out a small company where face-to-face individuals have authority, not just impersonal policy and share-
holders. I would look for people who seem genuine, invested, and moral—people you would be happy to have
lunch with or help out if they needed something. There are lots of people out there who are sincerely helpful,
and lots of them work at publishers. I would sign with those publishers.”
If you do decide to try working with publishers, many of the top iOS publishers have an open-door policy for
indie developers interested in publishing their games. The following sections describe a sample of the market
ngmoco (DeNA)
Launched in 2008 by longtime Electronic Arts game developer Neil Young, ngmoco was acquired in 2010 by
Japan mobile giant DeNA for $400 million. Most of their games, such as Rolando and We Rule, focus on highly
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