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I have an idea - what now? (self publishing)

4 replies [Last post]
Joined: 10/05/2010

First of all I would like to say hi to everybody and a big thank you for so many informations on this site!
I've found it few days ago and I keep reading it,but still, the question I am looking for is not answered anywhere detailed.

So,here it goes...
Like some of you, I also have great idea for a board game, similar to Pictionary, but much more fun, and it doesnt get boring and less fun during time. I have playtested it, and when we play the game, it is hilarious and very fun.

Now, I have started of thinking how to sell the game,and I must say right now, profit is my motivator.When I look at the commisions I get sick! People get an idea,do all the tough work,and get only 5% ?!? or a bit more if game is really great?? I dont want that...
I want to produce the game myself,what I can, and then sell it...I will handle the production and the selling part,but I need you to help me with protecting the idea!?

It could be big,but also it doesnt have to be huge...the project..and now,I actually want to know can someone help me what to protect and how much would that cost?
As I read in your topics before, it is clear that probably no one will steal the game instructions and gameplay, so is it enough to make a trademark of the name?and how much would that cost?I need a good catchy name,and i hope that wont cost too much!
Right now,for the patenting costs I have 1000$ ...what else,beside the name of the game is it good to protect and will I be able to do all the "protection" stuff with my 1000$ ??

Sorry for clumsy text and probably incorrect grammar, I am from the Balkan :D
And a big THANK YOU for everyone who can help me constructively!! :)

rcjames14's picture
Joined: 09/17/2010
The R Word

Royalties are a source of income that you receive whenever your game sells in any medium at any time for as long as you own the rights to the royalties. So, 5% might not sound like much (and it isn't unless you're game is colossal) but once you sign the contract, you're work is done. You can then devote your time to other things and other designs.

I don't know how much your time is worth to you, but the 95% that you don't get pays for other people's time. Those people include:

An artist
A graphic designer
A manufacturer (and their staff)
A sales rep
A game developer/playtester
The landlord (overhead)
The financier (interest on debt)
The owner (profit)
Google/Facebook/BGG/Conventions (marketing costs)
Business organizations (IPC fees, credit rating fees, registration fees)
... and others.

If you self-publish, you will have to either pay people to do all this or do it yourself. Despite the fact that it is tempting to do it yourself, the product will probably look and sell much better if other people who are really good at what they do contribute their part.

So, if you are sitting on a mountain of cash and want to join the business, hire staff, amortize costs and work your heart out developing distribution deals, marketing your product and promoting it... welcome! If you've found that one in a thousand game that allows you to print money (like Magic the Gathering), then you're golden. But, if your game fares as most games fare, you will soon need to bring in new IP to keep yourself afloat, which means paying other designers royalties for their games as well.

Now, you're a business man. And, if that's what you always thought you would be, then cool. But, it is strange that you chose to go into business selling something with one of the smallest markets in the world.

Or, you can be a designer and sit back and collect royalties.

Joined: 10/05/2010
Hi James, thank you for your

Hi James,
thank you for your reply,you explained everything very clear.
I am not sitting on a lot of money right now,but for all these thing you mentioned I dont need money,because I can produce the game myself,I have access to machines for that,and it wouldn't be costly to me.I have friends that are designers,and they are excited to help me.Selling and marketing would be mostly done by me,since I have the knowledge and experience to do that,but the only problem is that I dont know how to protect my idea and the game itself!
That is my main question,so if someone can help me with that,it would be awesome!
Thanks again!

pelle's picture
Joined: 08/11/2008

Short answer is: A trademark will ensure that no one steals the name of your game (or at least that you can go to the courts if they do). You can't protect your idea. You protect (using copyrights) the resulting game (it's graphics and the text of the rules), but not how the game plays or the ideas behind it.

If this wasn't the case you should be talking to a lawyer now how to negotiate the rights to make a game similar to Pictionary... Just like you can take their idea and make a different game based on that, someone will be able to take your idea in the future and build on that. That's a very good thing imho, and the reason we have more than a handful of (boring, old) boardgames.

But also consider that everyone here, and elsewhere, no matter how competent, will believe that their ideas are superior. I don't think anyone is out to steal your game. If you come up with some particularly clever mechanic it might spread to other games of course.

There are patents, but really...

There is a pinned bgg thread on the subject, which seems to have been effective at preventing this kind of questions for some time now. In the past there were about one new designer per week having that exact same question. :)

Joined: 10/05/2010
Thank pelle!!

Thank pelle!!

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