Game Publishing Agreement: what terms and conditions should the developer pay attention to in the video games publishing agreement?

We’re sharing with you the 6 key points of live broadcast on the topic of the Game Publishing Agreement, which took place this Monday, May 23rd. We hope these recommendations will help you in your relationship with partners.

  1. A lot of future conflict situations could be prevented at the stage of negotiating a contract. Always try to negotiate and agree on the conditions, which could satisfy both parties. 
  2. Rights assignment. Rights assignment leads to the situation where the developer forfeits their rights for a video game. If you see in the agreement that rights for a video game are assigned (“sold”), discuss with the publisher the real necessity of such sale. 
    • In some particular cases it could be justified, but a more widespread option is an exclusive licence.
  3. Licence. While negotiating the terms of the licence it’s important to answer the following questions and introduce some changes to the agreement depending on the received answers: 
    • How can the publisher use a video game/ accompanying products and which of these things could be good to leave for yourself or could do with the opportunity to use?
    • When does the licence expire? If it’s a lifetime licence, am I ready to work with this publisher upon such conditions or shall I discuss and agree on a more definite term (period)? Will I be able to withdraw from the agreement freely later?
    • Which territories is the publisher going to publish the video game on? Does the publisher have plans for all the territories or do I have the wish to find partners on my own (for example, in China)?
    • Which platforms (PS, Xbox, PC, iOS, Android and others) fall within the licence? Does the publisher have plans for any future platforms?
  4. Pre-emption right. As a rule, in video game publishing agreements publishers make a provision for their pre-emption right for developing and publishing new projects (both – supplements and new titles): Right of First Offer, Right of First Negotiation, Right of First Refusal

    Under such conditions it’s important:
    • to determine precise terms for the answers from the publisher, as well as terms and procedure of negotiations at Right of First Negotiation.
    • as for new products if there is no chance to avoid pre-emption right for their developing and publishing, it’s important to fix the most possible flexible form of the right for them - Right of First Offer.
  5. Video game development. If you arrange joint development of the video game, it’s important to define mutual parties’ understanding:
    • how they are going to act if the developer realizes they could delay performance of an obligation (each other’s notification procedure and agreement on the new dates, extra period for follow-up development when the delay takes place);
    • about the date of acceptance from publisher’s side, reporting and requirements to particular milestones and Gold Master, as well as feasibility of these requirements.

      It’s also extremely important to estimate how quickly the publisher will be able to make payments for the development. If the payment depends on some parties’ actions, it’s preferable to make payment terms shorter.
  6. Technical support. As a rule, to one extent or another technical support of the video game lies with the developer.

    In this case it’s important for a developer:
    • to evaluate the feasibility of publisher’s request. It’s advisable to stipulate in the agreement the parties’ understanding how to negotiate the requirements and the terms of meeting these requirements;
    • If the publisher asks a definite team to participate in the development and technical support, to agree on the procedure of replacement and search for new team members.

More information about working with Game Publishing contracts in the recording of our live broadcast.

Watch record

If you have any questions on agreement support in the sphere of video games publishing, you can write to Gordey Svetlana.

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