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Indies need to give up IP to get funding - RebelPlay

By Matt Martin

Thu 11 Aug 2011 7:00am GMT / 3:00am EDT / 12:00am PDT

New UK digital publisher plans to bankroll 6-8 releases a year


RebelPlay is an independent UK based games publisher specialising in digitally distributed video games....

Independent games developers need to be flexible with their intellectual property and give up rights to their creations if they expect to get serious financial funding for projects.

That's the view of new digital publisher RebelPlay, which intends to bankroll indie projects from conception to finished project in return for a share of profits and the rights to any future developments - whether games of through other media.

"Everyone has ideas at some point and if somebody is investing in an idea to develop it you have to expect that they are going to take some ownership of the IP," director and co-founder Leo Cubbin told in an interview published today.

Something we do with all our contracts is that by default all developers get first refusal on sequels and ports to do with that IP

Phil Gaskell, RebelPlay

"It's a partnership, we don't see it as a big issue and most developers we speak to don't either once they know how we work."

RebelPlay intends to release 6-8 titles over digital formats a year, and is in the process of raising a further £1 million itself after starting up with financial backing from the co-founders of UK movie production and distribution business Optimum.

Demands for IP control may at first appear to be a deal-breaker, but creative director Phil Gaskell said that any partnerships are about long-term relationships and future collaborations can be built into initial contracts.

"When we talk to developers they realise that the ownership of the intellectual property isn't as important as being associated with it and going on a journey with you when you exploit it," he said.

"Something we do with all our contracts is that by default all developers get first refusal on sequels and ports to do with that IP, so they are effectively intimately connected to that IP through its lifetime. They can exploit it with us and benefit with us."

"They get to earn off it whatever happens," added Cubbin. "So if it becomes a film they earn off it, if it becomes a toy they earn off it. I think a lot of people die with great ideas that are never developed."

The full interview with RebelPlay, where it discusses raising finance in the UK, its vision for digital publishing and more, can be read here.

From Recommendations by Taboola


Tameem Antoniades Creative Director & Co-founder, Ninja Theory Ltd

196 164 0.8
"they realise that the ownership of the intellectual property isn't as important as being associated with it and going on a journey with you when you exploit it,"

That's what i keep telling publishers!

Seriously, the one advantage digital indy developers have over established monolothic and outmoded AAA development is that you have a serious chance to own your own IP. Don't listen to this madness.

Posted:5 years ago

I think it depends on the partnership with your chosen publisher.

Some see it as a long term joint goal, and others with their own pre conceptions of IP ownership and such. Ideally, a indie can accrue a sufficient monetary war chest, that eventually a own IP is feasible, with all the risks of running your own IP

Posted:5 years ago


Greg Knight Freelance Developer

59 63 1.1
Effectively give them your second best idea and keep your top one until you can afford to develop it without funding.

EDIT: Alternatively give them your second best idea and use that dev time to beef up your tools/tech for when you are ready to start work on your Angry Birds killer.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Greg Knight on 11th August 2011 9:58am

Posted:5 years ago

Look at how Pixar did it. They gave disney cars, which was ok ish, which spawned a sequel, but they kept UP and other greater ideas closer to their chest.

I think, when you realize the wealth of experience a experienced publisher has, its distribution methodology, marketing ability, contacts and upfront risks to be had by a publisher - as long as your choosen future publisher has good understanding of your studio culture, it is a win win situation.

Posted:5 years ago

Can I just amend what Cubbin said in the third paragraph to make it less of a generalisation and perhaps closer to his true intent.

"Everyone has ideas at some point and if RebelPlay is investing in an idea to develop it you have to expect that RebelPlay are going to take some ownership of the IP," director and co-founder Leo Cubbin told

A nice attempt at deflecting the nature of their publishing contracts by making it seem like a broad truism of the industry.

Like everything else in life, if you're looking for a publisher shop around.

Posted:5 years ago


Russell Watson Senior Designer, Born Ready Games

86 34 0.4
New publisher says developers should give up IP to get funding. You don't say.

Posted:5 years ago


Gustav Nisser Operations & Project Manager, Exertis Ztorm

12 4 0.3
Got to sayI agree - Why not? Give up your first IP to make something great, then you have the chance to own all your following IPs. Or is there only creativity enough for one?
You have to know when to "Kill your darlings" (or in this case give them to someone else). Wouldn't it be worth sacrificing the first IP if that enables you to go and create more? If the option is to never make it, I'd say it's an easy choice.

Posted:5 years ago


Matthew Green Producer, Solar Studios Inc

36 0 0.0
these guys have been around how long? Unless they are offereing enough to make you wealthy for several years Id say Fuck Off. The biggest asset devs have is the IP.

How many wanker publishers say they are gonna sign devs for some pocket change take all the IP then put everyone out of biz cause they were wankers trying to find easy money? Better to struggle till you earn and sell product not IP unless the money is HUGE

OK and these guys are trying to raise a mill for themselves? OK I get it, they have no money, no IP , no code, no games. Awesome Publisher !!!!

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Matthew Green on 11th August 2011 1:01pm

Posted:5 years ago


Steven Bennett Owner and Creative Director, Interference Games

1 0 0.0
Difficult issue this, but there must be some standards in other industries that can be copied... Film is the obvious one, but also music. There are SO many ways that IP is broken up in the music industry that all contributors are very aware of their rights.

So imo, as long as the way rights and IP are broken up is limited and water tight, then people shouldn't be afraid of losing part of their IP to make great things happen.

Posted:5 years ago


Fazi Zsolt Game & Level Designer @Atypical Games

38 19 0.5
Hah ! Publisher trying to get funding to give funding in order to make profit... Ironic isn't it.

Posted:5 years ago


Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend

510 1,209 2.4
Totally disagree with everything said in that article IMO. As a digital company (IE making no physical products) your lifeblood and longevity is based on the IP you own and work with. If you want to give it away to a publisher, go for gold if you think the remuneration will be worth it.

But then again, seeing as a publisher advance is pretty much a loan then why would you give away your IP for it? Wouldn't you just end up being a subcontractor to the publisher? (in a roundabout way)

Posted:5 years ago


Richard Hill-Whittall Director, Icon Games

31 10 0.3
RebelPlay sound like a new publisher that all indies should steer well clear of!

And starting up with an article like this is incredibly outdated, I'll give them a year max.

Posted:5 years ago


John Pickford Owner, Zee 3

55 183 3.3
They can stick their funding where the sun don't shine.

Posted:5 years ago

i think LOL is the only appropriate response to this

Posted:5 years ago


gi biz ;,

341 52 0.2
Sounds like Dogbert is behind the declaration! XD

Posted:5 years ago


Andres Del Valle President, LagunaCorp

4 0 0.0
to Matthew Green. "The biggest asset devs have is the IP."

Defending ownership is important, and sometimes vital to a healthy P&L, but I have to say that our most important asset is our people and our connections.
My 2 cents.

Posted:5 years ago

I think the sentiment echoed by the many reponses here rather well sums up my feelings too. The industry is changing, IP is king, without it you have no longterm value. To relinquish control of your IP for short term cash in the games biz as it is today, is naive at best. I also agree with Ricahrd at icon, this article and the strategy it proposes is 5 years out of date.

Posted:5 years ago


Avery Tingle Writer

4 0 0.0
John, I'm right there with you. The main reason I ran with my (book) publisher was because I got to keep all rights to my IP. I'd like to see some clarification on things like this. There's a big difference between first refusal rights and then giving up all rights to one's creation altogether. I don't like the idea of someone telling me what I can and cannot do with my creation, much less taking control and butchering it.

Posted:5 years ago


John Pickford Owner, Zee 3

55 183 3.3
Why can't this 'long term relationship' BS work the other way around? Why can't they (as publisher) simply acquire first refusal on publishing the sequel?

These guys are 'raising' money to lend to developers in return for ownership of the work and they throw the developer a bone with the vague promise of another crappy deal. I'd rather flip burgers.

Posted:5 years ago

*shrugs* Seems to me they're up-front about what they want. They want IP, they're willing to pay for it. And they're not pretending that this is the only way the universe works, as so many others have been known to do over the years.

A new publisher with a focus on lower-budget titles on electronic formats, predominantly produced by independent developers? What they're presenting is neither unusual historically or particularly insulting, and the money level seems fairly as expected too. We're not talking about AAA, here. £1million is quite a few projects on XBLA/PSN/Steam.

That said, it is quite amazing that this subject is such an issue now, and says a lot about how the independent games world has changed industry expectations in such a short time.

Posted:5 years ago


Christian Philippe Guay Technical Game Designer, Gameloft Montreal

13 0 0.0
I call that stealing rights from talented developers, abusive behaviors and dirty tricks.

Posted:5 years ago


Graham Simpson Tea boy, Collins Stewart

219 7 0.0
Supposing Notch gave up his IP.......

Never ever give your IP up. But feel free to sell an idea if you don't have the will to realise it. But to give up you IP for an advance is stupid.

Posted:5 years ago


Christopher McCraken CEO/Production Director, Double Cluepon Software

111 257 2.3
Here's the problem with the way this has been framed: it's being framed as "If you want to do business, you have to sell your IP". I'm sure quite a few indie developers might go for this. But then, with that kind of funding...they cease being indies to some degree: they become "dependies"...basically performing the creative work for an industry that has been long bereft of anything original. They are beholden to the people with the purse strings.

The indie game sector is thriving because of the freedom to create, with better tools, better access, less barriers to entry. This attitude from Rebel is trying to postulate that there are barriers to entry too high (money) to realistically enter game publishing without help from them. It's disingenuous at best, pimping at worst.

"Something we do with all our contracts is that by default all developers get first refusal on sequels and ports to do with that IP, so they are effectively intimately connected to that IP through its lifetime. They can exploit it with us and benefit with us."

If that does not sound like someone setting up a "protection" racket, I don't know what does. Being from Chicago, anytime some silver tongued person comes to me and says, "you can benefit with us" tells me a great deal about their model. There's another choice, which is left unsaid: going it on your own. Funding is not the be all end all of game development. It helps, but it wont give you a solid mechanic, it wont create "fun"...

Posted:5 years ago

Why would Notch have given up his IP? Minecraft was his hobby. It's not a remotely fair comparison.

No-one wants to buy an idea. No-one. Why would you? What you're selling to a publisher is not an idea, but the idea plus the capacity of the idea's originator to realise that idea. As for the IP, some of us would quite like to make a living making games, rather than spending our life savings making a game on the off-chance someone will like it. It's easy to get confused by the successes in the independent market and forget quite how many hundreds of other keen-eyed developers are out there slaving away to no real end. It's easy to forget that the independent world is not a magic-land in which the Game Pixies will always pick out the very best and make sure they come to fruition; it's pure luck whether an indie project even makes it to Alpha, let alone succeeds. (Mojang Developments in particular admit this, they're quite wonderful in that regard.)

Not everyone wants to take that chance. Those that do? Wonderful. Hell, I'm working on a self-funded project right this minute. And for those who don't, Rebelplay and their fellows are waiting with open arms. They're not doing anything wrong. They make it clear what they're offering and what they want in return. What's so bad about that?

Posted:5 years ago


Camille Guermonprez Managing Director, Arkedo

5 0 0.0
You know you are doing it wrong when even someone from Gameloft is calling you names on IP issues :)
Great initial PR, guys!

Posted:5 years ago


Christian Lavoie Creative Director, Setgo Limited

4 2 0.5
I think people are venting some legitimate anger here but possibly not at the right guys. I've dealt with the guys from RebelPlay and they are far from evil greedy bastards!

I think the interview, also featured on this site, gives a better explanation of what they are looking to do. The reality that I've seen with large publishers is that they'll crack a heavy whip, strong arm the IP off you and offer you a tiny sliver of profit share. Or, even worse in my view, some publishers operating in the mobile/smartphone space taking entirely self-funded and complete projects off small developpers and take 50% of profits and 50% of IP ownership just to handle the Apple submission and a bit of marketing. That's the madness people should be reacting to.

What these guys are saying is that they'll fund the development of your game (from end to end), handle the publishing side of things and in exchange they'll give you a more attractive share of profits than you will see from a big publisher and make sure they don't just turn around and hand the IP over to anybody else without giving you the chance to stay with it yourself... but they can't front the full whack of funds on behalf of their investors without securing any potentially lucrative IP.

Honestly, I love the fact that it's possible for people to go it alone now without having to go through a publisher and would do whatever I could to retain IP, but what I'm seeing right now is a lot of struggling small studios and unemployed dev talent who just want to make games and don't have the cash to self-fund / self-publish. An undeveloped IP scribbled in a notebook isn't going to pay anybody's bills! If you have or can find the financial backing to go it alone you'll get genuine congratulations and admiration from me, but not everyone has that luxury, and for those people I think they could do far (far!) worse than hook up with RebelPlay.

But yeah agreed... IP is a big deal for both sides and not a fun thing to have to sign over.

Posted:5 years ago


Tim Wright Managing Director, Tantrumedia Limited

30 0 0.0
The kind of developers that are going to immediately dismiss this business model are small 1 or 2 person outfits developing iOS / Android games, either in the evening, or all day long if they're lucky to be supported by parents or an understanding partner. That's fine... you shouldn't even consider this. Develop your game, keep your I.P. and make as much money as you can.

For developers who have an idea that requires a 10+ person development team and the skills of a 3rd party sales and marketing company, the chances of finding someone who is going to bankroll all that for zero interest in the resulting I.P. are nil. zilch. zippo. nada.

The only way you'll get that kind of money is to be bank rolled by a traditional publisher who will feed you hand-to-mouth, strap you down to milestones and deadlines and finally take your I.P. lock stock and two smoking. Yes, you'll get maybe 15-20% royalties but only after the costs have been recouped.


You could look at the deal above, which to be honest is rather generalised in this article, the detail of which make a lot more sense given a practical example;

So... you have a game idea but no money, and possibly know of some people who would be willing to work on it. The deal above would allow you to keep a fair % of the I.P. in all forms (game/TV/Film/toys) for eternity, and the people who are willing to risk their money/necks on your idea and your ability to deliver also get a similar slice. Look at it from their perspective... if it goes pear shaped you'll have been nicely kept in pay for a few months but the investor is left out of pocket. That's their gamble.

I don't see the problem? There are no better alternatives out there, aside from convincing all your friends and family to max their credit cards to the hilt and give you all the cash. I'd rather not have that kind of pressure/potential guilt on my shoulders(!)

If anyone knows of an investor who has £20m and doesn't want ANY % of I.P. just a % of sales... send me their details(!) ;O)

Posted:5 years ago


Jan Almqvist Senior Artist, Electronic Arts

40 26 0.7
IP ownership is great as long as one can afford to protect and promote it. Don't expect _any_ publisher to fund and bring to market (basically taking all the risk) a game from a start-up without some long-term control over the IP.
Hell, just securing trademark protection in the usual territories can cost more than what it cost to develop many of the smaller indie games.

Posted:5 years ago


Christopher McCraken CEO/Production Director, Double Cluepon Software

111 257 2.3
@Tim Wright: Double Cluepon is a 12 person "outfit". We have our own funding, nobody has maxed out a credit card to the hilt, and burned through cash. We are entirely self owned. The barriers to entry are low. A server for us is 50 bucks every three months. Our operating costs are trivial. We don't need to burn through cash like a AAA house, because we aren't a AAA house. We have no need to be. We have ideas, mechanics and fun in do many other indie developers. These ideas are not compatible with someone who wants to purchase the IP, and thus have a controlling stake in where that IP goes.

There are some folks who would do well with the offer of RebelPlay. But, it's pretty clear if you don't understand the difference between the cost and value of something...then RebelPlay has the advantage. It's this gray area that makes this slimy. While not everyone can create the next Minecraft, it's sleazy to imply you have no chance without giving up your IP, your dreams and your designs.

That's the point here.

Posted:5 years ago

it's sleazy to imply you have no chance without giving up your IP, your dreams and your designs.

Except that isn't at all what is implied. What is directly stated is that you're not going to get funded by someone without a stake. Whether that's a dazzled VC or a demanding publisher, no-one is going to simply give you money without something major in return, with the exception of a few places like the Indie Fund, which have their own limitations.

Posted:5 years ago

"Independent developers need to stop being independent" :/

And to anyone lauding a corporation for being the hero and taking risks: these risks have complicated, long term ripple effects on how the artform of game design is practiced and perceived. They are not operating charitably in a bubble. Complicated, but not so complicated as to escape ethical scrutiny. Instead of giving up all of our rights because we "have" to to make it, we need to fix a broken system that pushes us into the arms of corruption in the first place. Own your IP, own the communication channel to your customers.

Posted:5 years ago


Christian Lavoie Creative Director, Setgo Limited

4 2 0.5
@Christopher: But in this case it's perceived sleazy/slimyness rather than the actual views of RebelPlay, and that's more the fault of the editing on this article's headline and people's expectations/experience of other publishers.

There is nothing slimy about them stating that if they front all the cash they want IP ownership in exchange. That's a straightforward business deal and those are the terms. It's slimy if they said, as a universal truth, that indies were deluded to think they can release a game without signing away their IP... but that is not what they said. It's probably what lots of people read in the headline, but it's not what they said!

Posted:5 years ago


Christopher McCraken CEO/Production Director, Double Cluepon Software

111 257 2.3
I'd like to point something else out here, if I can.

J.R.R Tolkien, J.K Rowling, George Lucas, pretty much every author under the sun...get advances for work, without throwing out the baby with the bathwater. (And before you mention Lucas' track record, think about THX 1138...the investors demanded their money back). Only in the music industry and the game industry do you see this kind of behavior. Im sure West and Zampella thought they were secure in their rights when it came to Activision.

This move to turn game creation more toward "Works for hire" or worse should be exposed for what it is: a grab. I'm with Richard Hill-Whittall: indies should run, not walk away from these folks.

Posted:5 years ago


Terence Gage Freelance writer

1,289 126 0.1
I think I'm inclined to agree with William - at least RebelPlay are being upfront about what they're offering, even if it's not to some peoples' liking. Ultimately, if you're not happy with RebelPlay's propositions then shop around; there are plenty of other publishers or funding options.

Posted:5 years ago


Lennard Feddersen Indie. developer, Rusty Axe Games

3 0 0.0
Christian, I think you've about summed it up. If people don't like their terms then don't use them but it would be silly to fund development of an idea without getting access to IP. The devil is in the details and that is what they are funding.

Posted:5 years ago

Publishers should push to own the rights, developers should push to retain them. That is a natural tension. The rights deal must to be structured to facilitate exploitation, but that can readily be done without publisher owning the IP. In fact, as with a movie or other licence, neither might own the entire IP. If publisher really must have the rights, then it will cost them more than if they are willing to live with a reasonably structured licence. The developer will reasonably want quid pro quo on the potential future value which can be said to exist in any situation in which you're even having such a discussion. For example, if we think we'll do 100,000 units followed by a sequel or two of the same, with a possible alternative format or territory happening down the line, then we can do a fairly simple estimate of the value of owning the IP. Being promised a contract of work for those later projects is fine, but usually what a publisher is paying developer is a back ended cut rate per man month: meaning that a simple contract of work for those later projects might not be doable for the developer because their profit's gone with their exit from the back end. That can be fixed by retaining a royalty interest all the way down the line, but frankly there's not going to be much difference between that and publisher not owning, but instead licensing, the IP.

That said, what I personally did not find commendable in the article was that RebelPlay seem to be trying to say that this is how it always is and must be: the natural and only way of things. That line is presented in a manner that unfortunately came across to me as disingenuous. Well, perhaps it just reads that way and by all means RebelPlay should have the benefit of the doubt. When I've worked for publisher, well, I always wanted my side to own the IP because that makes it easier to contemplate any kind of follow on exploitation. This pressure is tough for a developer to resist, but then look at powerful devs like CA who got there just because at a certain point they got their IP back. Like any negotiation, you shouldn't get hung up on points of principle, but you should try and be conscious of the reasonable positions that might underly and accomodate those points of principle.

Sorry for the wall.

Posted:5 years ago


Christopher McCraken CEO/Production Director, Double Cluepon Software

111 257 2.3
@Klaude Thomas:

That said, what I personally did not find commendable in the article was that RebelPlay seem to be trying to say that this is how it always is and must be: the natural and only way of things. That line is presented in a manner that unfortunately came across to me as disingenuous.

THIS. This is exactly it. And, you're right, the natural tension is that each side wants, and there has to be give and take. It's this very thing that was missing from the article. Not all funding offers are bad. Not all IP sales are good. But, I definitely think the indie ecosystem needs VC's at times. But they are not a requirement in order to realize ideas.

Posted:5 years ago


Paul Shirley Programmers

213 189 0.9
A contract's only as good as the lawyer you pay to enforce it. He's only as good as the money you can throw at the task. Given that there's a law of nature that inevitably makes publishers lie to devs that promise to share in future IP returns is pretty damn weak.

Worse than that, a right of 1st refusal is a great tool for a publisher to use in disrupting a devs financial planning or work schedule.

Even if this mob want to behave honorably, circumstances change and its a reasonable assumption they will turn evil, whether by selling out or just natural evolution.

Its the same shitty deal every other publisher offers, dressed up in empty promises.

Posted:5 years ago


John Owens CEO, Wee Man Studios Ltd

1,034 1,353 1.3
Most mobile publishers for indies expect you to self-finance and only offer marketing support which will effectively amount to their ability to cross-promote and have you use their badge - which while initially helpful for sales doesn't help your company's brand recognition for the next game. For this they expect anything from 10% to 30% of revenue. If it's 30% then that will leave the developer with 40% on the App Store for example and that's for practically zero risk on their end.

These guys are different. At least they're putting up the money and therefore taking on the risk so offcourse they would want a share of the IP. How big a share can always be negotiated. If you negotiated a revenue share with them for all further sequels etc even if you passed on doing it yourself I can see it working.

But neither model is evil as given the your odds of making a "hit" indie game, self financing and owning your IP is incredibly risky. That said make sure you have the ability to cross-promote to your game even if they do "own" the IP.

Look at the end of the day someone will share your IP; It will either be a publisher who financed you which will then not own a share of your company and therefore any further games. An investor who will then own a share of all your games and have a certain level of control over your company. Or your employees whom if you can't pay proper wages will expect shares in return, that may be the best scenario however not very many people can live on peanuts so they may be hard to find.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by John Owens on 11th August 2011 7:13pm

Posted:5 years ago


Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,269 943 0.7
Give your IP, your dreams and your designs to someone else to milk it for you and keep everything for themselves. 'Independent companies shouldnt be independant". Yeah they should sell out, grab the smallest piece of the cake while someone else gobbles down the rest. Id rather not sell my IP and seek other lesser methods of distribution and media outputs to give it exposure. I belive we live in a time were its never been better to be independent. With the internet, wireless conectivity and devices that allow you to communicate, produce and publish work from virtually anywere in the world, i belive independent individuals have the upper hand. In the short term selling an IP may be a good idea, but i think in the long term it is not unless you have lots of money for a good lawyer who can generate a good legal agreement that gives you a fair a better end of the bargain. And I think the most valuable thing in the industry right now is a good idea. And what independent publishers need to do, is educate themselves, be savvy and disciplined about how they are going to sell, expose, develope and publishe their product. I think technology now a days provides us with excellent tools to do a decent job.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Rick Lopez on 11th August 2011 7:19pm

Posted:5 years ago


Camille Guermonprez Managing Director, Arkedo

5 0 0.0
Tim Wright, Managing Director, Tantrumedia Limited sez:

"For developers who have an idea that requires a 10+ person development team and the skills of a 3rd party sales and marketing company, the chances of finding someone who is going to bankroll all that for zero interest in the resulting I.P. are nil. zilch. zippo. nada. "

This looks like some great Claim Chowder material.
Do you mind if I keep this for later?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Camille Guermonprez on 11th August 2011 9:07pm

Posted:5 years ago


Tim Carter Designer - Writer - Producer

639 370 0.6
Owning your own IP is useless if you don't have the expertise or resources to exploit and manage it.

Owning your IP is, to most game developers, more of a "respect" thing than a business thing. That is why they are so stupid about it.

At the end of the day we want: 1.) to be compensated commensurate with the level of success of our game; 2.) creative control; and, 3.) credit for our work. You don't need to own IP to get any of these things. Number 1 can be accomplished through a residual, in your contract, for selling your IP.

Posted:5 years ago

I'll stick with owning my own IPs, thanks.

Posted:5 years ago


Germán Vázquez Executive Producer, Neggi Studio

37 17 0.5
@ Michele, Don, Richard, Darren... and almost everyone in the comments section, While I agree that the IP for a developer is extremely important I think most of you misread or didn't look closely to the article where it says:

"Everyone has ideas at some point and if somebody is investing in an idea to develop it you have to expect that they are going to take some ownership of the IP,"

They also mention that the developers they talk to once they understand the plan and how they work, none seem too worried and still want to work with them. I believe out of experience that trying to hold on to an IP no matter how good it is, its of very little value since more often than not, developers don't have the means to take that IP and make it grow, I mean they already spend money on development and then you have to wait for the game to be profitable and get a return on your investment.

If this guys in their publisher role invest in your idea and help you make it profitable plus give you the means to continue developing games and thus new IPs I don't see the big problem only pluses, they will take some ownership of the IP too but that is what you give in return for the investment, I mean as a developer you still own part of a, hopefully with their business model and experience, successful IP than own the whole of it and struggle trying to get it to market, try to market it and spend money on something that I'm not quite familiar with like marketing, promotion, etc.

I'm not saying their business model is perfect or anything but I definitely don't think they deserve the kind of comments I'm seeing here. It is at the very least a viable option for independent developers.

Posted:5 years ago


Curt Sampson Sofware Developer

682 540 0.8
Christopher: if your operating costs for a 12-person company are "trivial," either you consider something approaching a half million dollars a year trivial or your staff are investors in your company. (At least I hope they're effectively investors: otherwise they're getting paid damn poorly.)

IP starts out with no value. It gains that value through marketing and sales. If you don't have the time, money or expertise to do the work to put that value in it, I don't see how you lose much from selling it cheaply. (Original good ideas are a dime a dozen.) But yeah, there's certainly a strong emotional component in losing hold of your new IP that doesn't exist for, e.g., losing hold of a game you developed using someone else's IP, even though the latter has far more of you and your work in it.

Posted:5 years ago


Eloy Ribera CEO, Ninja Fever

8 17 2.1
99% of us just don't have any relevant IP. I think that some developers will agree with their terms, and some other will run away. It's just their election. They have to evaluate pros/cons of retaining IP, get funded, etc. and make a choice that fits with their needs in the perfect time.

Posted:5 years ago


Mark Jawdoszak Director, Gaslight Games

4 1 0.3
Having actually spoken with both Phil and Leo from the moment they started Rebel Play (and in fact -before- they started this publisher... to answer some questions, Phil is an ex-Sony Producer, and Leo was from Media Molecule and behind Little Big Planet... so they haven't just jumped into publishing out of nowhere!) the article seems a little... erm... incorrect, based on the conversations -we- had with them!

If their business model/plans have changed since we last spoke, then *I'm* the one out of date... but still, from what I recall, the whole IP ownership wasn't seen in the way in which they've been expressed in the article.

For instance, if you brought them a nearly complete game, but just needed publishing, marketing and the like - then the investment would be smaller, their % return would be smaller and the IP ownership would be term based (like Steve Purcell of Sam & Max fame - Lucas had 10 years on the IP, but obviously not as long, time-wise).
But, similarly, if you brought them a concept with no product and needed investment from the ground up, development support, milestones and _then_ publishing, marketing etc - obviously their time and money is higher, so they want a significantly higher piece of that pie, in returns... and would want to protect that investment by having a higher % ownership of IP (or time-period etc).

Again, if I'm getting my wires crossed, it'd be great to get everything understood properly - as you'd expect before dealing with any publisher :-)

Posted:5 years ago

I’ve known these guys for many years, they have been working in games a long time and I would highly recommend them. I know for a fact they aren't naive enough to think that giving IP away is the only way devs can get funding. That's just ridiculous. I think the headline has been carefully worded to be deliberately provocative and it’s certainly worked on some people here.

A lot of the comments seem to be missing a more important point in the full article, which is their model doesn't appear to use advances. Read the full feature not the headline and you’ll see what they are saying and offering.

"We always said we want three big changes, to change the business model in three ways: No advance on royalty, higher revenue shares, and the way in which a project gets funded. "

From what I hear they fund the game, and when the costs are covered they share the revenue. Isn't that effectively 100% recoup rate? I've no idea what rate they share at but they claim it's higher than most. Isn’t that a great deal for developers? OK so you may have to give up your IP if they fully fund your development, but if it gets you enough money to go it alone next time, or co-fund your next title and own your next IP isn't it worth it? Or are we all naively looking for the next Angry Birds and retirement?

Posted:5 years ago


Jonathan Vigurs Studying BA (Hons) Design for Games, Plymouth College of Art

1 0 0.0
Only a publisher could think like that.

Posted:5 years ago


Sergio Rosa "Somewhat-Creative Director", Domaginarium

69 50 0.7
I haven't had the chance to read all your comments but I agree that giving up your IP up front may be a big showstopper, but as someone here said, it shouldn't be too big of a deal unless you know you won't be able to come up with another good IP. And if your creativity stops at one IP then maybe you're in the wrong business.

I partially come from a filmmaking background and I met a writer once that told me something that applies to this very well. He told me "say you write a script and you love the script a lot, and you want to make the movie. You could sell the script you wrote so someone else makes the movie, but you get enough money to make a lot more scripts, and maybe even direct those movies, but if you never sell that first script you will end with a very good movie sitting inside a shelf."

I have to agree with what someone else here said, your biggest asset is your team and connections, and maybe giving up your first IP means you get enough to independently developing the rest. After all I don't think there's something on this article or the interview linked from here that states that if you start working with them on your first project they will own every single IP you develop.

And I'm not sure if the Battlefield IP belongs to EA or DICE, but if it belongs to EA you gotta wonder how far it would have gotten without EA's backing...

Just my two cents.

Posted:5 years ago


Adam Parker Academic Coordinator, Qantm College

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Admiral Ackbar said it best...

Posted:5 years ago


Kieran MacGough Studying Computer Games Design & Programming, Staffordshire University

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[link url=

Posted this on another issue with IP and Publishers. Might change the whole industry if it is a success!

Posted:5 years ago


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