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Chapter 6. The Publishing Contract > Work for Hire Publishing Agreement - Pg. 178

The Publishing Contract 178 · What is the financial condition of the publisher? You can research this by buying credit reports and/or contacting developers with whom it is currently working to see what the publisher's pay- ment pattern is like. · Does the publisher have a track record in the genre and platform? · With whom will you be working during production? Marketing? What kind of experience do the production and marketing personnel have with this kind of release? How many other projects are they working on? How close is your release date to the release date of their other projects? One developer had this to say: "I'd sooner take an experienced producer with three other games than have a newbie's undivided attention." · To how many platforms will the publisher commit for release? ( Commit means rights revert on a platform by platform basis if minimums aren't met.) All at initial? Or will they be staggered? What will be the development budget for each platform? Will there be a common engine? If so, who will develop it? · Who does the publisher see as the target audience for your game? What are their plans for reaching that consumer? What kind of marketing commitment is the publisher looking to make? This can be stated as a fixed number or as a percentage of sales, with a fixed minimum. · What is the distribution strategy, by platform? How much time will you have in the retail channel before getting moved to budget? This window can be brutally short. · What is the publisher's international release strategy? How many countries and localizations? Do they have distribution in those territories, or will they be sub-licensing to a local publisher or engage a third party distributor? · What are their projected sales for your title? Price point for each platform? Maintain Parity To maintain parity, the discussion should be between two decision-makers or two intermediaries, not an intermediary on one side and a decision-maker on the other. The latter scenario often results in the present decision-maker giving a lot more concessions than he'd like. A contract is a lot like a massive soundboard, with every provision represented by a sliding toggle. The toggle runs from one extreme (most favorable to the publisher) to the other (most favorable to the developer). Slide every toggle to the top, and the sound is horribly distorted; slide them all to the bottom, and no one can hear the music. The goal is a permutation of toggle positions that produces a smooth, equalized sound. In the next section, I will explain the different provisions of a typical publishing contract and give an idea of the toggle positions for each. Work for Hire Publishing Agreement When you are creating a game based on an intellectual property provided by the publisher and the game will not use your proprietary technology, the development is considered a work for hire de- velopment/publishing agreement. These deals are often simpler, because the parties do not need to figure out ownership and sharing of intellectual property. They are also usually less lucrative for you because the publisher must pay the licensor (the party who owns the rights) a license fee in the case of a technology and/or a rights fee (compensation for making a product based on an intellectual property like a character or story), the latter of which will almost assuredly include some back-end participation (a share of the profits, usually a percentage, much like royalties).