How to sign your game up to the publisher


The first thing to be clear about is that few people will know that your game is yours. The game will be distributed and promoted by the publisher, which means that the release of the game will not be under the brand of your gamedev studio, but under the brand of the publisher. You will have to forget about glory for now. How to sign your game up to the publisher?

Of course, by publishing your game on their own behalf, the publisher will take on a significant part of the care and costs of promotion, but at the same time receive a significant share of the income. By investing its resources in the developer and the game, the publisher seeks to keep everything under its control in order to obtain at least some guarantees — up to adding any new feature to the game and changing the gameplay. And it’s not at all because this publisher is so harmful. Selling a game today is more difficult than ever. To settle the relationship between the publisher and the developer, the parties enter into an agreement for the publishing of the game. But do not rush to prepare your draft document, the publisher will definitely have something to offer you!

How to sign your game up to the publisher

The publisher usually has its own template for a publishing agreement, from which he most likely does not want to deviate. However, this does not mean that you have to agree to everything indiscriminately.

Often, gamedev studios do not have their own legal department, and you may not take into account all the points of the contract that are taken into account by the publisher’s lawyers. Always be careful when negotiating and entering into agreements with a publisher. Make a decision by carefully considering the proposal before signing the documents!

Reach out to multiple publishers to compare offers and understand how your relationship with a publisher can and should be mutually beneficial. Choose the most reliable partner.

If you do not feel confident in negotiating and are not familiar with all the options for possible interaction, bring along a lawyer who specializes in these matters. Perhaps, with the help of a specialist, you will be able to agree on amendments to the contract, or perhaps you will decide to look for another publisher with more transparent and attractive partnership conditions.

Below you will find a brief cheat sheet about the main nuances of a contract with a publisher. Use it when negotiating.

How to sign your game up to the publisher

1. What is the essence of the contract

A game publishing agreement is usually a voluminous agreement in which licensing terms play a central role. In short, with this agreement, the developer gives permission to the publisher to use the game in certain ways, including promotion, for a specified period and in a certain territory.

If the publisher aims to cooperate on several projects, the publishing agreement can be a framework agreement with the signing of applications (specifications) for individual games to it.

2. Intellectual rights in the contract

The publisher will most likely be interested in an exclusive (exclusive) license, in which neither you nor other persons with your permission can use the game during the term of the contract. Think over this question from the point of view of the territorial possibilities of the publisher. It may be appropriate in your case to insist on a simple license. By granting a publisher a simple (non-exclusive) license for a limited area, you retain the right to release the game outside the agreed territory yourself or outsource to another local publisher.

An exclusive license should be distinguished from an exclusive rights assignment agreement — in the latter, you completely and permanently alienate all your rights to the game. This option is not for you, unless you want to sell your game and lose all rights to it.

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