Skip to Content

Do royalties apply on board games with a borrowed fantasy theme?

4 replies [Last post]
Jakup
Offline
Joined: 09/27/2018

Hi all,

I'm working on a hero-strategy wargame, and I'm considering building a Silmarillion themed board for my next prototype-playtest version, and then I came to think of the following, more general question:

Do royalties or fees apply when using themes and names borrowed from fiction books in a board game? I'm not talking about direct copy of maps, images or designs, only the usage of story theme and names. How about e.g. previously published LOTR-board games or Harry Potter board games, did game publishers pay a fee or royalty or anything? Are there standard industry rates or is all up to individual negotiation? I have tried to google to subject but I have not found any clear information about the matter.

I will greatly appreciate any insight on this.
Thanks

questccg
questccg's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/16/2011
Yes some kind of ARRANGEMENT must exist

To answer your question, Harry Potter or LOTR Board or Card Games required a Licensing Agreement prior to publication (and production). Only larger type publishers do these kind of deals. Most small publishers don't have the influence to do it. Things like Star Wars, Star Trek, etc. All require that a Licensing Agreement must be established before making the game.

If this is your FIRST game, I STRONGLY urge you NOT to use licensed IP. Nobody knows you and it's your first game... That's like two "x"'s ...

Negotiations are usually done via a Toy "Broker" ... And that in itself is up-front costs (like lawyers).

When you get known by a Publisher (Like @Dralius: David E. Whitcher, who published several designs with Mayfair Games and they helped get a Star Trek IP License for one of his design) then maybe they can go through the hassle PROVIDED it's a REALLY GREAT GAME!

If this is your FIRST attempt to get a game published, my advice would be to TRY to go with NO IP LICENSING. Nobody will invest in a license from someone who is unknown to the scene/industry.

Everything IS a process... Baby steps moving forwards. Cheers!

Jakup
Offline
Joined: 09/27/2018
Thank you questccg

Thank you questccg for prompt and clear answer. This was as I had expected.
My takeaway is that I will stop focusing on using a theme as LOTR in my first game, but rather use a theme not protected by IP License.
A fantasy theme will likely be replaced by an historical theme.
Baby steps indeed, couldn't agree more.
Thanks again

questccg
questccg's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/16/2011
We all have our "own" hurdles

Even with my OWN IP, producing enough artwork to make the game is a small fortune. That's why the 2nd Edition of "Quest AC" is on-hold. That's one of my hurdles and will require more traction in the market before I am able to bring that game "to life"!

I'm going to be "exploring" how successful a "webstore" can be ... in my next venture. No Kickstarter fees (save 5%) but "storefront" fees (of 6%) and still have a crowd of about 1,000+ people to approach. If this venture is successful, GREAT. If not... Well at least I tried... Another "hurdle"!

Envision the "journey" and what you hope to accomplish in the long-term.

Again me too, baby steps.

Jay103
Jay103's picture
Offline
Joined: 01/23/2018
Or you can go the Sword of

Or you can go the Sword of Shannara route and just steal the entire LotR plot, scene for scene, but change all the names.. Wheel of Time started off that way too iirc.

But no, don't borrow IP, and yes, those other titles were all licenses. It's likely that you couldn't even get an email rejection from the license holder, vs. just getting ignored..

Syndicate content


forum | by Dr. Radut