'We need guidelines for good publishing deals'

Square Enix’s Phil Elliott calls for the industry to collaborate on a template so indies don’t get burned by harsh contracts
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The industry needs to look into the possibility of drawing up guidelines that will help new and indie studios get the best publishing contract.

That’s according to Square Enix’s Phil Elliott, who discussed his idea during his talk at Reboot Develop today. 

While talking about what devs should bear in mind when it comes to arranging publishing deals, he suggested that the industry could benefit from an almost standard template for such an agreement to show studios what they can expect and what they should request.

While he said it is becoming far less common for publishers to demand rights to the studio’s IP, some of the terms and logistics in these deals – such as recouping marketing costs – still damage studios in the long run.

“I’ve seen a lot of teams who don’t know what a good deal is,” he told attendees. “I’ve seen teams with a lot of talent going into bad arrangements because they don’t know what they should be asking for. Teams without the right knowledge can fall into traps.”

Elliott cited presskit() – a solution created by Vlambeer’s Rami Ismail that gives devs a template for a website, making assets and info available to journalists – as a prime example of how the industry has been able to provide great starting points before.

“I saw Rami’s press kit take off and it’s great to see there’s a template that parts of the industry can adopt,” he said. “I’m curious if we can do the same thing with publisher deals. What if there was something out there that broadly explained what you should be looking for? A healthy deal that teams can look at and not necessarily get publishers to sign but more help to inform their expectations.”

He stressed that he didn’t think it was something publishers themselves should do, but was open to finding out if anyone wanted to collaborate.

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