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Molyneux calls for "mindset change"

Lionhead boss Peter Molyneux has called for a major rethink of the way game development contracts are negotiated, describing the current system as being "completely flawed" for independent studios.

Lionhead boss Peter Molyneux has called for a major rethink of the way game development contracts are negotiated, describing the current system as being "completely flawed" for independent studios.

Speaking at the London Games Summit yesterday, Molyneux criticised the current system, where studios are unable to accurately predict how a development process will flow but are nonetheless required to agree a series of milestone deadlines.

He also warned independents not to get pulled into the "spiral of doom" - signing a new project in order to get funding for an unfinished game, and repeating this exercise until the studio goes out of business.

"The whole nature of the way contracts are negotiated in this industry are completely flawed for independent developers," Molyneux said, adding that a "mindset change" will be neccessary before the balance can be redressed.

He had plenty of advice for indies working under the current system, stating, "The secret is to negotiate, up front, a contract which gives you the power to call down more money if neccessary."

Molyneux also said it was important to set long term goals, to keep the studio's core team together, to be honest with publishers and to seek the best legal advice ("In retrospect, the person who did the conveyancing on my house was not the ideal person to negotiate the Populous contract").

He warned against signing away intellectual property rights, stating, "As an independent developer, your IP is your bargaining power. If you sign it away or license it... You are signing away your freedom in the future."

"Most importantly of all, enjoy what you're doing," Molyneux concluded. "The feeling of accomplishment when you have defeated problems will see you through."

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Ellie Gibson

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Ellie spent nearly a decade working at Eurogamer, specialising in hard-hitting executive interviews and nob jokes. These days she does a comedy show and podcast. She pops back now and again to write the odd article and steal our biscuits.

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