Video Game Licensing for Beginners
Video Game Licensing for Beginners – It takes a lot to get a job in game development. Passion, drive, and artistic vision come naturally to designers who dream of launching their next hit game one day. However, the business end of game development may not come so easily. Especially when it comes to licensing and copyright.
These concepts can seem complicated and can be a frightening process. However, video game licensing is now a huge part of the gaming industry. Pokemon, Angry Birds, and Minecraft have all licensed and sold their brands around the world through numerous products, and at this point they can be considered more than just video game series.
How does it work? How do you protect copyright when licensing games? What should I allow and what should I avoid? How much will it cost in the end?
In this article, you can quickly answer some of these questions to learn how to get the most out of your video game intellectual property (IP).
Video Game Licenses
Let’s start with the basics. What is a video game license?
Video games are licensed when you enter into a business agreement with a company to access your intellectual property for the purpose of creating a commercial product.
To create Minecraft foam swords, t-shirts and figures, manufacturers first had to be granted access to Minecraft IP on a limited basis. This could also work as another way for Disney to license Star Wars IP to EA Games to make games set in the Star Wars universe.
License agreements usually include a number of terms regarding how and for how long the IP is to be used. EA could make a Star Wars game, but it couldn’t radically change the characters or the universe, and it couldn’t decide to make a movie instead. Doing so violates the license agreement. IP owners have the power to enter into contracts and decide what is allowed and what is not.
Even if selling your product outside of the game isn’t a priority, it’s important to note another aspect of licensing. It’s a console license. When publishing games on consoles operated by giants like Microsoft or Nintendo, publishers must pay royalties and sign license agreements. Once you’ve done that and made sure your game meets that company’s standards, you can distribute your game to those consoles.
What Come First? Game or License?
The short answer to this question is: game. If you don’t yet know if the game itself will be popular enough to justify it, there’s no point in focusing your time on selling game brands, creating games, collectibles, posters, and other related products.
Shovel Knight, a game from Yacht Club Games, has been a huge success and has made several forays into the world of video game licensing. The character was licensed to appear in other indie games and sold many merchandise such as ammiibos and collectible figures, all of which added to the gaming brand’s reputation.
But before that happens, they’ve created games that are touted for their gameplay, nostalgic 8-bit worlds, and likable characters.Not all authentication attempts are successful. Take the Defiance game as an example. The game was sold at the same time as the TV show of the same name and takes place in the same world. The game’s events are announced to affect the show’s world, and the show affects the game’s story.
Players found this approach cynical, and in the end both the presentation and the game were considered mediocre at best. You also need to play the game to understand everything about the show and vice versa. In the end, there wasn’t as much crossover between the two mediums as I initially hoped.
This is a good example of why you shouldn’t start licensing from scratch. They may have been more successful in focusing their energies and resources on making great video games or shows, but in the end they created mediocre products with no power. The lesson here is that it’s best to do a real and honest review of great games before licensing them out.
Managing Licensing and Intellectual Property in the Video Game Industry
Finally, any IP used in the game has the required license. The music, the game engine that programs the game, the similarity between the characters, etc. all require their own licenses.
Also, the games you create are also your intellectual property, and you can publicly prove ownership of your games by applying for a copyright license. This is an important step that you must not forget. So what is the cost of using all these different forms of licensing? Here is a quick summary.
The cost of doing this can range from $3 to $10 per batch, but you often have to negotiate with a manufacturer like Sony, and third-party publishers can pay the highest price.
Using someone else’s IP in your game can be profitable in the long run. For example, Ghostbusters: The Video Game was designed to capitalize on an already established fan base. Movie lovers tend to play games.
Obtaining a license to use a Ghostbusters IP can be expensive up front. Intellectual property owners often want a portion of the revenue and a minimum guarantee before they grant you an IP license.
Your game, just as it was actually created, gets some copyright protection as an IP. To make the most of the video game copyright protection laws, we encourage you to submit a copyright claim. Fortunately, these are very affordable, ranging from $65 to $100.
Game Engine License
The game engine on which you base your game may also require a license. How much you have to pay for License 1 depends on the engine. Unreal Engine is free to use, but requires a 5% royalty on revenues over $1 million. Unity has a tiered payment system based on game sales performance. There are many other examples. It is best to find a game engine that works for you.
To use their music, small independent artists can license their songs for as little as $100, but the more popular or popular the song gets, the more difficult it is to obtain a use license. Some music can cost thousands of dollars to license and may require a percentage of the game’s royalties.
Music is one of the most copyrighted areas, even song covers can cost money, and it’s usually wise not to fill your game with too many famous tracks. You can negotiate with record companies, and you can negotiate music licensing fees.
Frequently Asked Questions about Licensing
1: What if there are many countries participating in the licensing agreement?
- Most license agreements contain regional clauses that allow you to specify a country and, therefore, the law that applies to that agreement.
2: What does a copyright license protect?
- The game’s characters, source code and programming code, as well as similarities between characters and aspects of the world and story, are protected just like any copyrighted work or film. Game mechanics are generally not subject to copyright protection.
3:What products should I create when licensing my IP?
- First define your target audience. Games like Minecraft have a completely different audience than fans of the Dark Souls series. If your game appeals to a younger market, stuffed animals, stickers, and toys may be appropriate. If your game is intended for adults, it’s best to consider collectible figures or clothing.
- Different games may appeal to different markets, and licenses should also suit those markets.
4:Where can I get this license?
- Video Game Licensing for Beginners- Most game publishers will want to hire an attorney to draft a licensing agreement as it can get quite complex. If you want to license someone else’s IP, you need to contact that company, provide proof of intent and the company’s credibility, and initiate negotiations.
- It’s hard to get your foot in the big door if you’re not already involved, but with perseverance, it might be possible. It is best not to bother the company representative by asking to meet in person. You’ll want to start a conversation with some middle managers first.
Video Game Licensing for Beginners – Once you’ve created a great game, it’s important to think about how you’ll sell it and how much you’ll have to pay for the tools you’ve used along the way. Video game licensing may seem like a complicated process at first, but it can help you develop your brand and protect your game from troubling legal issues. Keeping track of what licenses you need, what licenses you have, and what they’re talking about can be just as essential to selling a game as the game itself.