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Creating a Game based on Movie

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Anonymous

First, I'm a regular guy new to game design. Like thousands of inventors I think I have a slam dunk idea blah blah blah. I'm trying not to get ahead of myself however, as you can infer by the subject line that I may be fighting an uphill battle.

With that in mind, does anyone have experience or insight into using movie names, characters, or images for a game? Not just a mention of the movie, but actually having the game based on it's characters and plot? How are these games started? Do you approach the studio and ask to license the movie name? How do you protect yourself from getting the idea stolen? Will they even consider it for less than 100's of k?

Also, if this thing is possible I hope to find a company or individual to consult on the project and figured this was the perfect place to look!

Thanks for the time and help.

sedjtroll
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Creating a Game based on Movie

I'm no expert, but I think it depends on the movie and who owns it. If you don't mind me asking, which movie do you have in mind? And also, what type of game are you thinking about making (or have you made) to represent it?

I wouldn't mind seeing a game based on one of my favorite movies- The Adventures of Ford Fairlane.

- Seth

Anonymous
Creating a Game based on Movie

BeauBo wrote:
Like thousands of inventors I think I have a slam dunk idea blah blah blah.

At least you have the right attitude. Now, have you taken the obligatory vow of poverty required of all game designers? :wink:

As to your question, there has been a lot of discussion of late here (tip: check the search function, very handy!).

Essentially, if you are putting together a game to send to a publisher who will then do all the leg work to establish the proper licences for the movie name, characters, etc., then feel free to use and design. I am not a lawyer (a phrase that has been coming up a lot lately), but I believe this falls under the fair use act in regards to the intellectual property that you would be using. You don't own it, but you are not depriving the rightful owners of their due profits/royalties, then you are in the clear.

That method puts the onus on the publisher to secure the legal rights to the property since they are the ones who will be publishing the game and selling it to the public.

If YOU are the intended publisher (you intend to self-publish), the you are responsible for having the necessary licenses inplace before selling (or indeed giving away) you game. Before you write to the owner of the property, first take a quick look in either hand. If you're not holding a winning lottery ticket, then you may not be able to afford the rights to the property (that's under the assumption that you're not a well established game designer and/or producer in which case you probably already have a contact to all the licenses you want including the new Hillary Duff "I Can TOO Sing!" game).

I don't know what property you're talking about, but if you feel that it has the appeal to drive game sales, then you may find that the rights are either already bought out or very expensive. Either way I'd be very interested to hear what something like that goes for these days.

As for protecting your game, fully copyright the rules and any unique visual components (game board, etc.). Since you're using copyrighted material (the movie graphics and stills), you may want to leave them off and copyright a more generic layout. That will give you about as much protection as you can get. Don't worry about patenting the mechanics, it probably won't be worth the high cost. Just be sure to include a copyright symbol and you should be OK.

Best of luck!

Anonymous
Creating a Game based on Movie

Thanks for the insight guys, I appreciate it. I'm sure you can understand my reluctance to identify the movie sedjtroll. Suffice it to say it is a classic that I do believe could drive sales as there are already other products (plush dolls for example) that have been succesful.

Siskny-I understand your thought process behind putting the onus on a publisher. Just so I'm clear, that is the same as licensing (selling) your game for roughly 5% of the wholesale sales? How do you guys make any $$$?

Please help me understand the steps to self publishing. In this case, I would design (with a design company) and copyright the game on my own right? Then I could sell directly to retailers or hire someone to sell for me with established contacts? Then I would hire a distribution company to handle fulfillment? Am I close?

Finally, is there someone to hire to negotiate the license with the movie company (a patent or copyright lawyer perhaps)?

Anonymous
Creating a Game based on Movie

BeauBo wrote:
Just so I'm clear, that is the same as licensing (selling) your game for roughly 5% of the wholesale sales? How do you guys make any $$$?

Yes, you would license your game to the publisher who would then pay you royalties (though 5% sounds high unless you are well established). Take my advice with a grain of salt since I haven't published any games myself (I'm a relative newcomer). My insights are gleaned from the experiences of others.

Quote:
Please help me understand the steps to self publishing. In this case, I would design (with a design company) and copyright the game on my own right? Then I could sell directly to retailers or hire someone to sell for me with established contacts? Then I would hire a distribution company to handle fulfillment? Am I close?

Without revealing too much about your game, can you tell us something about it? Board game or card game or both? Light or heavy, etc.? Do you have the design finished or is it just an idea at this point?

Once you get the game designed, playtested (a lot!!), refined, playtested, refined some more, rigorously blind playtested (the single most important step for anyone even remotely considering self-publishing), then fine tuned and playtested some more (do you get the idea that playtesting—both while you are present and in blind playtests) is a very important part of the process?)... THEN you're ready for step 2 ;)

When do you copyright? Affix the circle-c and the word COPYRIGHT, the year and your name (or your company name, but only if your company is a legally incorporated entity) as soon as you have anything on paper. That will give you modest protection. As your rules get streamlined, then you can think about submitting them for official protection with the US Copyright Office (some may do that before the rules get to that stage, I'm not sure if copyright registration allows for revisions to the content after registration).

Before you can sell to retailers, you need to get the game printed (a step that is not easily rectified once overlooked). Then you may go directly to retailers or go through distributors or go to every convention there is and make as many contacts as you can. All of which are valid steps and have been discussed at great length in other posts (remember, there is a search function...). A lot will depend on your company's available capital and your business plan.

Quote:
Finally, is there someone to hire to negotiate the license with the movie company (a patent or copyright lawyer perhaps)?

There are lawyers, agents, and various other contacts that can help you do just about everything (from negotiations to contracts and licenses), but they don't come for free (and may well cost you a percentage of a meager profit margin).

Anonymous
One of the Top 10 Reasons Games Get Rejected

Not to discourage you, but according to The Game Inventor's Guidebook one of the Top 10 reasons games get rejected is because the "game depends on an unobtainable license." It goes on to say that Hasbro has locked up Star Wars and not many publishers could afford the licensing fees, if they wanted too. The book further suggest "make sure the license is available and affordable before you pitch" your game to a manufacturer.

Of course, just because a game will not be published in the next 95 years, during the duration of a copyright, doesn't mean that it cannot be designed for your enjoyment. If the license ends up being unobtainable the world will just have to wait.

Jonathan

Anonymous
Creating a Game based on Movie

Good advice. I'm not putting anything into the development until I find out if the license is a viable option. I remain optimistic as I see small nic-knacks here and there from the movie. Luckily, it isn't as much of a blockbuster as Star Wars or The Adventures of Ford Fairlane!

I'll keep everyone posted and please be sure to post if you come across anything that might pertain to the topic.

-Beau

sedjtroll
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Joined: 07/21/2008
Creating a Game based on Movie

BeauBo wrote:
Luckily, it isn't as much of a blockbuster as... The Adventures of Ford Fairlane!

Wow, what was it? Straight to video?

I said FF was a favorite of mine, but it was never by any stretch of the imagination a blockbuster.

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