Monday, November 21, 2022

Board Game contract advice from Not-A-Lawyer


Recently, someone asked me "what needs to be in a board game contract"?

Negotiating a contract as a board game designer/inventor can be a tricky thing, especially if you've had no formal training in business - like me. But I have had to negotiate my own contracts in the past and have created a list of topics that you want to make sure are in your own contract:

1) Your advance. How much is it? How far from contract signing will you get paid? Does it come out of royalty? Do you still keep it if game doesn't get made?

2: Your Royalty Rate. How much is it (2-10% is average)? How often do you get paid? Is there a minimum that the game must sell to get issued a royalty check or does it roll over to next period? Does the rate increase if more than a set # of games are sold?

3) You advance/royalty on reprint copies or international translated copies. Do you get an advance or royalty for each language the game is translated into? If there is a second edition (or more) does your royalty rate go up?

4) 1st right of refusal for expansions, second editions, etc. Do you get "first crack" at any new material based on the core game? Do you get an advance/royalty on those derivative products? Do you get your name on the box/in the credits as the originator of the base game?

5) Kickstarter/electronic sales royalty. Often the prod. run printed for Kickstarter is different than those for traditional distribution. What % of the KS do you get (it should be higher than your normal royalty). The same is true for any games sold via Amazon, etc.

6) What is the payment schedule? How often do you get paid? What happens if there is a missed payment? What is the minimum that the publisher will pay? Is it paid electronically or via check?

7) Comps. How many copies of the game do you receive? I usually ask for a case or 6 copies. These are great for self-promotion, friends and family gifts, as well as a copy for your own library.

8) Credits. How are you credited? (be firm on which title you get - this is the #1 way pubs may "screw" you) Where are you credited? If possible, always on the box - front is preferable. But also demand to be listed in the manual and on the BGG website.

9) Rights reversion. If you are licensing your game (which is better than selling it) when do they revert back to you? What reverts back to you: design only or the art and other assets created for the game? Do you own the title too?

10) Additional copies of game. Do you have the option to buy more copies of your game from the publisher? Is it at wholesale price? lower than wholesale? Can you buy remaining stock if game stops being sold?

I suggest negotiating things like video game rights, toy rights, clothing rights, etc. into a different contract as they are moderately to severely different things from your board game. Your rights in your contract should focus on the board game and any "ancillary" products (like game mats, KS stretch goals, etc.)

Keep in mind that I'm not a lawyer. These are just the information and knowledge that I've picked up over negotiating contracts on my own and making mistakes, but I'm getting better at it. 

I wish you the best of luck!

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