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Stolen Idea

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joel
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Joined: 12/31/1969

Ok, I'm new to this industry, but if someone were to submit an idea (along with a check) to a game developer and, within a year, the game is on the market with a few variations and it could be proven the game developer had a hand in this, is there any legal recourse for the individual?

How can someone protect themselves? Would a copyright on the instructions help?

And, what of the game challenges on this site? What if the winner sees his/her idea in print within a year? Are they entitled to anything if links are proven?

Dralius
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Stolen Idea

Joel

This question come up from new people all the time, i once wondered about it myself. It has been covered over and over in the forums. Rather than rehash it all i suggest you do a search in the formus with the key word "Steal". That should get you all the information you need.

jwarrend
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Re: Stolen Idea

Quote:

And, what of the game challenges on this site? What if the winner sees his/her idea in print within a year? Are they entitled to anything if links are proven?

I can't speak directly to the policies of the Game Design Showdown, but I do facilitate the Game Design Workshop here, and I imagine the policies are similar. In the GDW, you're putting your game up in public view at your own risk. There is no guarantee that someone won't steal your design, and no special protection of your intellectual property that's guaranteed. The good news is that on a site of designers, everyone has plenty of their own ideas and doesn't need to steal from someone else. Of course, if you're uncomfortable with the risk, simply refrain from participating.

Quote:
Ok, I'm new to this industry, but if someone were to submit an idea (along with a check) to a game developer and, within a year, the game is on the market with a few variations and it could be proven the game developer had a hand in this, is there any legal recourse for the individual?

I'm not aware of a context in which this kind of transaction takes place. I don't think there is such a thing as a "game developer" per se. Generally, game designers develop their own games (where development means the process of taking a rough game idea and turning it into a working, publishable game). After that, designers may submit to a publisher, but no money changes hands. If the publisher wants to publish the game, they will offer the designer a contract. If they don't, they'll return the game. There aren't any cases that I'm aware of where a reputable publisher stole a design from a designer. Really, there's no reason for them to do so; if they like an idea, they'll pay for it. They have no shortage of great submissions, so stealing yours is not only poor business sense in a variety of ways, it's completely unnecessary. Moreover, it's very hard to even get your game looked at by a publisher in the first place, so there's pretty little risk of theft happening.

Obviously, do whatever you're comfortable with, but really, if you're new to the hobby, then I recommend focusing on learning how to design great games. Worrying about theft won't make you a better designer, but it may make you a worse one. I say that because it's just not possible to create a great game without talking to other people about it; at a minimum, you need playtesters to play your game. So being overly paranoid will only hinder your game's development.

That's how I see things, anyway. Best of luck.

-Jeff

Brykovian
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Re: Stolen Idea

jwarrend wrote:
I can't speak directly to the policies of the Game Design Showdown ... you're putting your game up in public view at your own risk.

I think you stated it perfectly for the GDS as well ... especially since the nature of the GDS doesn't lend itself to as-fully-developed ideas as the Workshop does.

-Bryk

johant
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Stolen Idea

I agree with Jeff!

The publishers arent in the business to steal ideas!
Check out their websites, they adress this issue and they take it seriously

I wouldnt worry!

I wouldnt give away the ideas, rulebook to everyone i meet though!

Good luck

zaiga
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Stolen Idea

And, as always, read this:

They Stole My Game! by Tom Jolly.

Johan
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Stolen Idea

The problem is the other way around. No publisher/designer wants to be accused of stealing games. The rumour will spread fast over internet and have a bad impact on the company.
Some do variants on games that are a hit will always be presented (for example, the number of Quiz games that showed up after Trivial...).
I have not heard of any pirate copying of games yet (not that much money involved).
The only example I know about is the persons that claims to have developed Monopoly (and that is nearly 100 years ago).

// Johan

zaiga
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Stolen Idea

Actually, isn't it weird that this question keeps coming up over and over again? I think it has to do with a few myths and beliefs people have concerning game design.

1) Ideas for games are rare and precious
2) Getting a game published will make you very wealthy

Both are untrue.

Ideas are a dime a dozen. Most likely, someone else will have had a similar idea for a game, or perhaps a similar game already exists. There are hundreds of new games published every year by almost just as many companies. If you ever get the chance, take a stroll around the Essen fair. It's a humbling experience seeing all those new games coming out every year.

There are tens of thousands game prototypes made every year by hopeful designers, who think they just made the new hit game. Publishers get swamped by submissions. Most of these designs suck, and end up in the garbage bin (figurally speaking, sometimes literally). But, because they get so many submissions, a few of them are bound to be good. Publishers don't have to steal your idea, because they have several other designs by other designers worth printing. Why would they bother with the potential legal problems stealing an idea might raise?

Most likely, you won't get rich when a design of yours gets published. Of a game that sells for $20 in the store, the designer may get 50 cents. A typical print run of a publisher in the hobby market is 3000 - 5000 copies. If the game sells all of its copies you'll make $1500 - $2500. That is considered a successful game in this market. It's a fair sum of money, but when you consider how much time you will have to invest in making prototypes, writing and rewriting rules and, especially, playtesting the game dozens of times, you'll see that a regular day job is a much better investment of your time. And you'll need to put that amount of time into a design, if you want to reach the treshold quality needed for publishing.

So, bottomline: design games for the love of it, not for the money. Then you will see that there's no point in worrying about a game idea getting stolen. I hope this puts things a bit in perspective.

sss3d
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Stolen Idea

The responses to this topic, was very informative to me, and I'm sure it is to a lot of people.
It should be stickied, or put in an FAQ.

I really did learn a lot about stealing and why I shouldn't be scared after reading this topic. :)

zaiga
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Stolen Idea

sss3d wrote:
The responses to this topic, was very informative to me, and I'm sure it is to a lot of people.
It should be stickied, or put in an FAQ.

That's a good idea. This seems to be a topic that comes up again and again. I stickied this thread to make it easier to find.

Willi_B
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Stolen Idea

Zaiga -

I always get a chip on my shoulder (quite huge) when someone spouts that ideas are a dime a dozen.

Yeah, some ideas are. Others aren't.

Magic: TG wasn't. D&D wasn't. And, yes, ideas of this magnitude could make you millions. Granted, the vast majority aren't that innovative... but that's what makes us all different.

One should make money for the love of the game design and the love of games. No disagreement there.

As far as 50 cents on the $20 game goes though, you are getting hosed. That's 2.5 % of gross. One should rationally expect 10% - 15% of net which shouldn't come out to $.50/game unless you are dealing with a company lacking business sense. Atlas Games quoted 10% at GenCon last year at a seminar... the previous year Hasbro (not necessarily a subdivision thereof) said a toy will get 10-15% depending on factors, but that they expected a huge release because they are Hasbro.

Understandably, people produce the same old crap and call it original without being original.... this is why these companies are taking fewer pitches. The smart ones will still keep their ears open for the next Magic, but some are just being business saavy and sticking to a smart pattern (Fantasy Flight seems to be doing just fine without taking submissions). Their business models work and they aren't rolling the dice of a new person entering a risky venture into their plans or opening themselves for potential "THEY STOLE MY IDEA" lawsuits.

Both work as long as the company makes money and both are admirable in their own way.

I just can't stand it when the "haters" come out to play. Back off my new paradigm, Jackson.

FastLearner
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Stolen Idea

Not zaiga here, obviously, but nonetheless:

Willi_B wrote:
I always get a chip on my shoulder (quite huge) when someone spouts that ideas are a dime a dozen.

Yeah, some ideas are. Others aren't.

Magic: TG wasn't. D&D wasn't. And, yes, ideas of this magnitude could make you millions. Granted, the vast majority aren't that innovative... but that's what makes us all different.
Ok, I've got a dozen game ideas. How much are you willing to pay me? As you yourself note, the vast majority of ideas aren't that innovative, and the vast bulk end up being worth nothing. What do you think game ideas actually average out to?

There are some rare truly innovative ideas, but on average, I bet a figurative dime a dozen is about right.

Quote:
As far as 50 cents on the $20 game goes though, you are getting hosed. That's 2.5 % of gross. One should rationally expect 10% - 15% of net which shouldn't come out to $.50/game unless you are dealing with a company lacking business sense. Atlas Games quoted 10% at GenCon last year at a seminar... the previous year Hasbro (not necessarily a subdivision thereof) said a toy will get 10-15% depending on factors, but that they expected a huge release because they are Hasbro.

The numbers you're quoting aren't far off zaiga's thrown-out example number. In the hobby game market, which Atlas sells into, distributors pay publishers (generally) 40% of retail. Assuming that your 10% is based off that number (which it may well not be, as the charges placed against gross are going to vary from publisher to publisher and contract to contract), 10% of 40% is 4%, and 4% of $20 is 80 cents. That's $800 per 1,000 games sold, in a market that rarely sees a print run above 5,000. In the best of circumstances you're not likely to get rich.

Hasbro is, of course, a whole different beast, but based on the deep discounts places like WalMart see from them, I wouldn't at all be surprised if their net price calculated for inventors/designers is even less than 40% of net (as it's likely that distribution, for example, will be taken out, even though they do their own). But at least you'll sell tens of thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands.

-- Matthew

jwarrend
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Stolen Idea

Willi_B wrote:

I just can't stand it when the "haters" come out to play. Back off my new paradigm, Jackson.

What you have to understand is that zaiga's remarks aren't so much negativity as realism, or at least, the conventional wisdom of this site. The consensus opinion around here is that "no one wants to steal your idea" and "you're almost certainly not going to get rich designing game". You have to keep in mind the context to which zaiga's post was responding. Many new designers come in here saying, basically, this: "I have the best idea for a new game; how do I keep it from getting stolen, and how do I make money off of it?" Most are hyper-secretive about the design and most are shocked to learn that a few thousand dollars is a pretty good success.

I'll go one further. Every single first-design I've ever learned about, including my own, has not really been that great; certainly not great enough to spawn a whole new genre like Magic or D&D. Is it possible that some first time designer really does have that greatest idea ever, and really is going to get rich off of it? Of course. But experience suggests that it is extremely improbable, and in general, it seems that being hyper-secretive and money-hungry are counter-productive to designing great games and to succeeding as a game designer, so we encourage new designers to become more open and to design for the love of games. Making these changes in one's attitude probably won't hurt one's chances of making money, but they will make one's time spent designing a whole lot more fun and rewarding!

-Jeff

Willi_B
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Stolen Idea

I applaud all of the comments on this thread. I understand what Zaiga was saying, I understand the truth of what he is saying, and understand the realism of it all.

However, $.50 per unit is low. Even the figure of $.80 is a vastly more realistic number, which was my point. As this is a board game forum, most board games aren't going to sell for $20... heck, Fantasy Flight is selling TI:3 for $80 to a certain amount of success now. If really depends on scale, components, and market... but $25 is the lowest likely retail price anymore. Granted his numbers are hypothetical and based on $20, but still a bit low. Anyways, anyone that doesn't do the numbers on their money per unit deserves to get scammed for $.50 unit on a board game. Lower priced games are understandable.

There are few that can make a living designing games... and less than a handful that can retire early from their games.

If your designs aren't genre re-defining in some significant way, then you shouldn't expect to retire anytime soon. If you are prolific, a la Knizia, and equally skilled, then you may be getting to that retirement sooner rather than later. If you are one or the other but not both, work hard and keep the day job. If you are neither.... well, kiss up at the day job.

I am in understanding, as I said.

I was just sort of having fun at the end of a post... I threw in the "Jackson" to illustrate it as humorous.

FastLearner
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Stolen Idea

I thought you were referring to Steve Jackson stealing your ideas. :)

No kidding!

Willi_B
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Stolen Idea

Hahaha!

No, thankfully no one has stolen (knocks wood) my paradigm shifting concept yet... just don't have the time or money to see it through right now... so I am working on my other decently-outside-the-box game that is nearer completion.

Sorry if you took it as attacking in any way... I was more focused on the concepts than the person... your ideology is most correct, FL.

Anyone got $2,000,000 for the next paradigm in gaming?

zaiga
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Stolen Idea

FastLearner and Jwarrend have already adressed most of the points, but there's one thing I wanted to add...

Willi_B wrote:
No, thankfully no one has stolen (knocks wood) my paradigm shifting concept yet... just don't have the time or money to see it through right now... so I am working on my other decently-outside-the-box game that is nearer completion.

You see, this is exactly the point. You can have a great idea, but it's worth nothing if you don't do anything with it. What if Richard Garfield would have thought at some point: "Nice idea, but I don't have the time to come up with 300+ cards, let alone test them all in different combinations". What if Chris Haney and Scott Abott, of Trivial Pursuit fame, would have thought at some point: "Nice idea, but, man, coming up with all these questions and researching them costs a lot of time! Let's play Scrabble instead".

An idea for a game is worthless if you are not prepared to put in the time and effort and, sometimes, money to turn the idea into a complete, functional and fun game. That is why ideas are a dime a dozen. A great, working, fun game, however, is a rare and precious possession.

Game on.

Shellhead
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Stolen Idea

Willi_B wrote:

I always get a chip on my shoulder (quite huge) when someone spouts that ideas are a dime a dozen.

Yeah, some ideas are. Others aren't.

Magic: TG wasn't. D&D wasn't. And, yes, ideas of this magnitude could make you millions. Granted, the vast majority aren't that innovative... but that's what makes us all different.

Yes, Magic and D&D were extremely innovative concepts for games. But I don't think that these extremely innovative ideas were ever at risk to be stolen. Both games are extremely complex and challenging, and propsals regarding them would have been shot down by most conventional game companies. It took dedicated game designers to nurture those complex ideas into playable games that eventually reached the marketplace.

Willi_B
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Stolen Idea

Wow!

Look - got no probs with anybody. I encourage all people to make their games.

Some things require more than time. They require money. Some may be willing to sacrifice the wife and 3 kids futures to pursue a game design. Some aren't.

Paradigm shifts can be even huger costs. If your average CCG is now $100,000+, what will the new paradigm cost? Ideas are a dime a dozen? An insult at the very least. Richard Garfield should have given 11 more ideas for a dime, right?

I guess we can agree to disagree. If you can create the next paradigm, then you can say they are a dime a dozen. I mean there are alot of games that sell well that aren't that great. I hated every early Eagle Game because they never heard the word playtest. Yet I heard people like them because they basically filled the void of post Axis & Allies war board games. The bling of creating many plastic pieces eludes me.

Just trust me when I say I will not stop working on my designs and I will do due dilligence to get them to market. Sometimes things require more than money and time to be made, and some of us do not have a design team. ;)

I like well thought out games as much as the next man, but I am eager to see the new paradigm shifts because they will bring more people to the hobby so we all have more people to play those well thought out games.

Zaiga - I would love to play any game you put out there. Nothing personal on the idea disagreement. If you have something out there, let me know.

Shellhead - You are my favorite hero.... but I think that many are hungry for paradigms NOW that they have seen what Magic has wrought. I'm just not very trusting as a person. Got any games I can check out?

FastLearner
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Stolen Idea

Willi_B wrote:
If you can create the next paradigm, then you can say they are a dime a dozen.

This is where it seems like we just must misunderstand each other. It's because almost no ideas are paradigm shifting that they're a dime a dozen. If you have a paradigm-shifting idea but it's never implemented, it's a dime-a-dozen idea.

I don't follow what you're saying, that only if you have a paradigm-shifting idea can you place a value on ideas? Is that a good summary?

Garfield's paradigm-shifting idea was worth something because a game was made out of it that did indeed shift the paradigm. If it was still in his head it would, from where I sit, be worthless. Paradigm-shifting or not, ideas are a dime a dozen, with only implementations being worth anything.

(BTW, no stress here, just chatting, it's all cool.)

-- Matthew

phpbbadmin
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Stolen Idea

Willi,

Can I interject that I think you are misinterpreting the message that's being conveyed here?

Willi_B wrote:

Paradigm shifts can be even huger costs. If your average CCG is now $100,000+, what will the new paradigm cost? Ideas are a dime a dozen? An insult at the very least. Richard Garfield should have given 11 more ideas for a dime, right?

I don't see why you consider this an insult. Ideas *are* a dime a dozen. As Rene stated, it's what you *do* with those ideas that make the difference. And for the record, no one is implying that you *won't* do anything with the ideas, or that you won't be successful.

Quote:
I guess we can agree to disagree. If you can create the next paradigm, then you can say they are a dime a dozen. I mean there are alot of games that sell well that aren't that great. I hated every early Eagle Game because they never heard the word playtest. Yet I heard people like them because they basically filled the void of post Axis & Allies war board games. The bling of creating many plastic pieces eludes me.

We are talking about games here right? I love games as much as the next guy, but they are *just* games. I don't think using confusing buzzwords like paradigm shift actually aid in conveying the message you're trying to get across.

Quote:

Just trust me when I say I will not stop working on my designs and I will do due dilligence to get them to market. Sometimes things require more than money and time to be made, and some of us do not have a design team. ;)

I like well thought out games as much as the next man, but I am eager to see the new paradigm shifts because they will bring more people to the hobby so we all have more people to play those well thought out games.

Your passion is commendable, but please don't let it cloud your judgement as to the actual intentions of the people of this community. Most, if not all of us, are here to lift each other up and promote the hobby.

Quote:

Zaiga - I would love to play any game you put out there. Nothing personal on the idea disagreement. If you have something out there, let me know.

We all love to brag that Zaiga recently had his game Gheos picked up to be published by Z-man games. So you be able to play it within the year I believe!

-Darke

jwarrend
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Stolen Idea

I agree with Darke; I think that speaking of "paradigm shifts" is trending off topic. Not too many of us are actively seeking to usher in the next paradigm in gaming; most would be quite happy to see our names on a box of a "typical" board or card game! If it's your desire to create something truly genre-bending, by all means go for it! But that isn't representative of the typical BGDF poster.

If "dime a dozen" offends, maybe a different way of expressing this is that game ideas have no intrinsic value. You won't find anyone who will pay you simply for your game idea. And to bring the discussion back to the original topic, THAT is why you have no reason to fear someone stealing your idea -- because your idea has no intrinsic value. Anyone who stole your idea would then have to put in a ton of effort to bring that idea into a playable, exceptional game, AND find someone willing to publish it, and even if he could do all that, he would be making a couple thousand dollars if he's lucky, and that is the second reason why no one would steal your idea -- there isn't enough money to be made for it to be worth anyone's while. So keep in mind that the references to game ideas being "dime a dozen" and game profits being low were specifically talking about having an idea stolen; the talk about paradigm shifts may have clouded that somewhat.

-Jeff

Zomulgustar
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Stolen Idea

If I may tweak your clarification a bit...game ideas may not have intrinsic financial value, but they certainly have intrinsic aesthetic value to some. And all the money in the world won't buy inspiration.

FastLearner
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Stolen Idea

I certainly value my game ideas. Frankly I think a bunch of them are quite clever. I am only arguing that they have no monetary value, right.

-- Matthew

Willi_B
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Stolen Idea

Again, I just don't like the term 'dime a dozen'.

If you think it is still true, give me your 12 best game ideas and the complete and exclusive rights thereto and I will give you ten pennies....

see, not all that quick now are ya? Comedians pay for jokes, and, at this rate, I'll pay every designer on this site.

Ideas, whether acted upon or not, are valuable because they will help you shape other ideas, if for no other reason.

If I told you my two best games came from looking at a pile of cards and people arguing, would it mean anything... no. But the idea of the game holds tremendous value. If I simply gave the idea to a company they could make the game from the idea.

Let me give you an example. A patent is an idea made ownable, correct? Hasbro paid the owner of Dragon War for the rights to his patent. They aren't using the game. Just the idea. And he got more than a dime. Thousands more, I'm sure.

Value your ideas, paradigm or no. If they are paradigm shifting or look to have multiple uses, I would consider patenting them. Otherwise, just make the game and pat yourself on the back for being clever.

Shellhead
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Stolen Idea

Willi_B wrote:

Shellhead - You are my favorite hero.... but I think that many are hungry for paradigms NOW that they have seen what Magic has wrought. I'm just not very trusting as a person. Got any games I can check out?

Sorry. I just have one game. After working with us on two previous iterations of design and playtesting, the game company finally paid us (my co-designer and myself) after we signed a non-disclosure agreement. That was in March of this year. Once our game is published, hopefully before the end of 2006, then I can speak freely about it. In the meantime, I am slightly burned out and not actively working on a game design.

Willi_B
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Stolen Idea

Congrats, Shellhead!

I love a success story!

I look forward to checking it out. Ditto on Gheos, Zaiga.

jwarrend
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Stolen Idea

Willi_B wrote:
Again, I just don't like the term 'dime a dozen'.

If you think it is still true, give me your 12 best game ideas and the complete and exclusive rights thereto and I will give you ten pennies....

see, not all that quick now are ya? Comedians pay for jokes, and, at this rate, I'll pay every designer on this site. Ideas, whether acted upon or not, are valuable because they will help you shape other ideas, if for no other reason... Value your ideas, paradigm or no. If they are paradigm shifting or look to have multiple uses, I would consider patenting them. Otherwise, just make the game and pat yourself on the back for being clever.

Willi, are you reading any of the posts that people are writing in response to you? It seems that you are going out to your way to misunderstand what we are saying. There's no one here who doesn't value his ideas. The question is whether a designer should be hyper-paranoid that his ideas will get stolen. The answer is unequivocally "no". Many of us broadcast our best ideas quite publically. You might look at this thread in which many of us disclosed openly what we some of our best game ideas are. We also have a forum here called the "Game Design Workshop" in which someone puts up a rulebook to his game and others read it and critique. There's a huge difference between "I'm not worried about my game idea being stolen" and "I don't value my ideas".

Again, the whole point is that a game idea, in and of itself, has no intrinsic monetary value. The game idea must be developed into a playable game, playtested extensively to iron out bugs, playtested some more to insure marketability and ease of play, produced (which costs a ton of money) or sold to a publisher (which is extremely difficult). To me, the "safety" step in the process is the design and testing. Someone who so lacks game ideas that he would steal mine is probably not a good enough designer to be able to design and develop a good game and actually get it to market.

Saying that game ideas are "a dime a dozen" isn't a pejorative comment about the quality of the ideas themselves. Rather, it's an acknowledgement there's so much more to getting a game to market that just having an idea, no matter how good, is not enough to ensure that great financial success is just around the corner.

-Jeff

Willi_B
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Okay. I think we said the same things in different ways.

The ownership of an idea has value. Or maybe not.

I understand that this is a 95% respectable industry where nothing like this occurs (theft of idea). And, yes, without the elbow grease it doesn't take shape.

However, I would suggest that we all look at the industry of reality TV. Two shows about amateur boxing came out... one got the drop on the other and hurt the market of the other. It was claimed that the earlier show stole the idea of the other show. However, there were no patents and no legal recourse.

While I cannot site such examples in our industry, I would say that such prudence is sometimes needed.

I can only once more point to the concepts patented in Dragon War. Again, no plans to use any part of the game beyond the patented mechanic in that game. Hasbro hasn't used the idea yet. If I were Hasbro, I would be very much engaged in the practice of seeking out unique and usable patents and trying to obtain the rights thereto. It really allows one more flexability in game design. Plus, they have the power to enforce such rights.

So, to sum up where I stand on this issue:

1) A completed game has value.
2) Ownership of a thought has value.
3) A mere thought doesn't.
4) I do not think anyone needs to worry about their idea being stolen in the hobby 99.99% of the time.
5) If you think it is an idea that could have wide application and/or is the next BIG thing, patent it.

Chad_Ellis
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As a designer/self-publisher...

...I thought I'd add my 12/5ths of a game.

If I'm developing a conventional board or card game, two things apply:

1. I'm not at all worried about it being stolen.
2. I'm more concerned with not LOSING money on it if I publish than I am about making money.

It's been pointed out that a typical board game print run is 3-5K, but what hasn't been pointed out is that many games don't sell out and some don't even come close. If you sell a game idea to a company you aren't likely to make much but at least you aren't going to lose money, either.

We're going to be publishing a 2-player card game called Hill 218 soon. Playtest and demo copies of that game have been widely circulated and I have absolutely zero worry that some game company will get it and say, "Wow, this is so fun we should publish it ourselves before YMG does!"

By contrast, when we began development of Battleground: Fantasy Warfare, we did worry. That was, in our opinion, a real game revolution, removing substantial entry barriers to one of the biggest game genres out there, tabletop wargaming. It wasn't our mechanics so much, although I think they're a big part of why the game has (so far) been successful, but rather the structural idea of a true miniatures game using cards.

So, in much briefer terms, I think you're better off putting your game ideas out there, getting as much feedback and testing as possible and not worrying about theft. The only time I would worry/protect is if you've got something that is structurally different from what's out there and you think that structural difference is going to be an important selling point.

Best,
Chad

Chad_Ellis
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Willi_B wrote:

5) If you think it is an idea that could have wide application and/or is the next BIG thing, patent it.

Maybe, maybe not. Patenting isn't cheap and it isn't guaranteed to work, either. We looked into patenting some of the mechanics of Battleground and ultimately decided not to, in part because the cost was large and in part because we were only confident of success for a fairly narrow patent that would not have prevented someone from making a competitive product.

IMO you're usually better off just trying to be first with a novel idea rather than trying to protect yourself via patents. The patent route may increase your returns on a home run, but it may also reduce the chances of hitting one.

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