It is impossible not to notice that the game dev industry is growing in strength every year, both in terms of the number of published titles and specialists dealing with professional game development. Development studios are a desirable workplace not only due to the possibility of creative development but also due to high competitive earnings. What contracts are most often concluded in the Game dev industry? What is their specificity? What provisions should you pay special attention to?
Game Dev contracts – types.
The type of game dev contract depends primarily on who and for what purpose the given game publishing company is looking for, i.e. whether it is looking for a creator who will perform a specific project or an employee for a permanent cooperation, for example, in the promotion and marketing of the published titles. Therefore, the contracts most often concluded in game dev will be commission contracts, contracts for specific work, development contracts.
Specific work contract
The essence of a specific work contract is the achievement of one particular individualized result in a material or non-material form. The result distinguishes it from a mandate or service contract, a due diligence contract. A contract for a specific work occurs mainly when a company dealing in professional game publishing is looking for a creator to perform a particular title or part of it. A mandate contract or a service contract is concluded mainly when the game publisher needs, for example, marketing support in the promotion of the game in order to increase its sales. The publisher party commissions a natural person or entity that is a marketing agency to provide services consisting of the creation of marketing campaigns, including by creating the audiovisual presentation and graphic designs to guarantee effective promotion in social media. Thus, the types of contracts in the Game Dev industry depend on whether the purpose is to perform specific work or to perform particular activities that are not necessarily aimed at achieving a result but are diligence-oriented.
Contract for specific work in the Game Dev industry:
Pursuant to the Civil Code (Article 627 of the Civil Code), a contract for a specific task is a mutually binding contract, in which payment – the contracting authority’s obligation to pay remuneration – is one of its essential elements. In addition, it is also a consensual agreement since unanimous statements of the ordering party, and the contracting party is sufficient to conclude it. At the same time, according to the discussed provision, it is not about any work, but a marked one, i.e. one that will contain the features indicated by the parties to the contract. After its creation, the work must be an independent result in relation to the ordering party. In the literature on the subject, it is assumed that the work that is the subject of the service subject to the contract may have a material character, but it may also appear in a non-material form (for extensive literature see, for example, J. Szczerski, in Z. Resich, Commentary of the Central Committee, p. 2, 1972, p. 1371). Although the remuneration of the order taker most often takes the form of payment of a specific amount of money, it may occur in a different form. It is to be a financial benefit equivalent to the performance of the work. It does not matter how the parties want to determine this benefit, considering it the equivalent of consideration.
According to the Civil Code, by the contract for specific work, the party accepting the order undertakes to perform the designated outcome, and the ordering party undertakes to pay remuneration. The substantively essential elements of the contract for a specific work include the specification of the work, the performance of which is borne by the party accepting the contract, and the remuneration that is its equivalent, to be paid by the contracting authority. Most often, therefore, a company dealing with professional game development and publishing is looking for a creator who will create a work in the form of a game or only its parts, such as a specification or a game design document.
Essential provisions in the contract for specific work in Game Dev.
When deciding to conclude a contract for a specific task in the game dev industry, in addition to the mandatory provisions described above, one should remember the conditions particular to this type of contract. First of all, the creator of the work must ensure that the game is the result of his creation and perform it personally. The creator may also perform the work with the participation of entities for whose actions he will be responsible as for his payment, according to action. From the point of view of the ordering party, an important statement is an assurance by the game developer that the work was not encumbered with any rights or claims of third parties. The creator of the game should also assure the client that all materials for the creation of the work are his property and have legal software for them.
Contract for specific work in Game Dev – copyrights.
With this type of contract, works are created within the meaning of the Copyright and Related Rights Act. An extremely important issue for this type of contract is the issue of the creation and transfer of economic copyrights to the game. First of all, the creator of the game should guarantee that the works of which the work will not infringe the economic and personal copyrights of third parties. The property copyrights to the job are usually transferred to the ordering party upon payment of the remuneration, and the parties may specify that, apart from the ordering party, other property buyers will acquire proprietary copyrights. The creator should express irrevocable consent to the exercise of derivative rights to the work, without territorial or time restrictions, in all known at the time of concluding the contract, as well as in the future fields of exploitation. These fields should be described as detailed and exhaustive as possible. In the contract for specific work in the Game Dev industry, the creator should also guarantee that starting from the date of transferring the proprietary copyrights to the work to the Ordering Party, he will not exercise the rights under Art. 56-58 Copyright, copyright supervision, or its moral rights in any part of a work. In addition, in a contract for specific work in the Game Dev industry, the parties may agree that the work will be delivered in full within a specified period. Usually, however, in the case of creating a game, the work is transferred in parts, and therefore the parties agree to pay a lump sum after each part of the work is returned and approved by the client. Then, the transfer of proprietary copyrights will take place at the moment of payment of the remuneration for the last part of the work by the ordering party after its approval. In practice, it also happens that the moment of transferring the copyright is the date of delivery of the work by the creator, the date of acceptance of the work by the ordering party, or the day of the creation of the work itself.
Contract for specific work in Game Dev – attachments.
The appendices in the contract for specific work in Game Dev work are usually the specification of the work, game design document, and the schedule for the delivery of individual parts of the work. A Game Design Document (GDD) is a document containing detailed design assumptions for the game. On the other hand, the specification describes the method and technique of performing the work. It is on the basis of these two documents that the game is created. In the contract, the parties may agree that the contracting authority will supervise the performance of the work by the contractor, i.e. creating a game in accordance with GDD and the specification. An important provision will also be the provision on the possibility of the contracting authority withdrawing from the contract in the event that the creator provides a game that does not meet the requirements specified in the specification or GDD.
Contract of mandate in the game dev industry – characteristics.
The subject of performance, consisting of the performance of a legal transaction, was specified differently in the contract of mandate. The contractor’s due diligence and failure to achieve the intended effect do not constitute a default case. This type of contract is concluded when the company is looking for an employee for a permanent cooperation, for example,e in the field of marketing services or human resource management, consisting of finding and acquiring professional entities from the game dev industry for the company.
A development contract as a type of game dev contract.
The company that creates the game is often looking for an entity that will support the game development process with appropriate financing and take over responsibility for marketing or the sale of the game on platforms. The company usually decides to grant an exclusive license to a developer who financed the creation of the game and was, for example, the creator of the ports. An exclusive license means that the entity to whom it was granted is the only one to use it. So, suppose we grant a given entity an exclusive license to carry out activities related to the distribution of the game. In that case, we cannot use the support of another distributor at the same time.
As can be seen from the above analysis, the type of game dev contract depends on the area in which the game publishing company needs support. The above description is only a tiny part of the provisions that should be taken into account when deciding to conclude a contract with a given entity. An extremely important issue is the provisions regarding economic copyrights to work and granting a license, often in the case of the development contract.