Business and Legal Issues
The rapid growth of the game industry is bringing increasing challenges for new and experienced developers alike. Too many studios run into operational and financial difficulties – or even fail outright – because of a lack of knowledge about the industry and/or a lack of business experience in general. To combat this and provide a respite from the increasingly challenging world of the video games business, the IGDA is working to empower the development community with business knowledge and advocate for developers through the following initiatives:
Developer Business Summit
The Developer Business Summit, hosted at GDC 2004, was the IGDA’s first “Think Tank” event. The Summit provided a rare opportunity for studio heads, publishing executives and other industry leaders to come together in a neutral forum, roll up their sleeves and work out solutions to some of the biggest issues facing game development. Check the Business Summit web page for a full report, slides, notes and all related materials.
Related GDC Session Materials
- The Economics of a Next-Gen Game (ppt - 237kb) by Kathy Schoback, GDC 2005
The Contract Walk-Through essays help to educate all developers on game contract issues, so they will be better able to understand and discuss such matters with their lawyers and publishers. Game industry lawyers have compiled essays on important contract issues (sample topics include IP ownership, definition of net sales, the reserve, etc.) and each essay includes annotations from industry experts. Two sets of essays were released in 2003, the first prior to E3 in May and the second at GDC Europe in August.
The Intellectual Property Rights White Paper is a comprehensive analysis of key forms of IP rights, legal definitions and information about global intellectual property rights as they relate to games and those connected to game development. The White Paper was released in October, 2003 via the IGDA web site. Topics covered in the White Paper include the history of IP rights; forms of IP protection; overview of IP in video games; practical applications; and three opinion essays from leading game industry thinkers. The Paper was written by the IGDA’s IP Rights Special Interes Group, consisting of forty members including game developers, musicians, journalists, CTOs, CEOs, open-source evangelists, students, academics and lawyers from North America, Europe and Asia.
Prior Art Searches
From time to time, the IGDA will mobilize the community of game developers to help thwart exploitive/abusive use of IP against the industry (usually in the form of broad reaching patents). This usually takes the form of helping defendants discover prior art to invalidate patent claims. The IGDA is/has helped with the following cases:
Game Submission Guide
The Game Submission Guide is an invaluable resource for developers who are submitting/pitching games to prospective publishers. It includes publisher feedback on submission checklist items, and information on what to expect before, during and after the pitch, along with insight into the publisher decision-making process. The Guide was released on the IGDA web site in May 2003, just in time for E3.
Best Practices Reports
The Best Practice Reports are a set of documents available from the IGDA web site that were generated from a series of roundtables at GDC 2003. They help educate and provide solutions for developers on industry best practices in various disciplines, such as financing, resource management/scheduling, human resources, marketing/promotion and quality assurance.
Online Games Special Interest Group
The Online Games SIG has produced extensive reports on market statistics, business model descriptions, technology summaries and publisher listings to the developer community. The intended audience of the Online Games White Papers includes independent game developers and development studios without significant business and technology resources, which plan to create online games. The Papers also serve as a reference to all those interested in the online game space.
Human Resources Special Interest Group
A big part of the management/business challenge is about people - knowing what you need, how to find the best people and help them achieve their best potential for the benefit of the business. While there are many general purpose HR resources, there is nothing specific to the game industry. The HR-SIG is meant to be resource for the community of game industry HR professionals and those involved in the HR process.
Governmental Support/Resource List
The Business Committee is in the process of developing the Governmental Support List as a resource for developers who are looking for funding and assistance to either launch, or to support their existing development efforts. This resource list will include assistance available to developers in the form of government tax breaks, subsidies, funding, grants, loans, or other such resources provided by governmental support bodies.
The reference materials section provides additional reference materials to help developers devise business plans, conduct market research and get a handle on general business aspects. References will be added on an ongoing basis...
Dive into the Business & Legal Forum. The IGDA hosts online discussion forums to faciliate peer-to-peer communication and the sharing of knowledge.