This is my daily update for the GDC 2021 virtual conference. I will be doing this every day this week to try and bring you marketing-focused updates.

Contract Killers: What Developers Should Eliminate From Their Publishing Agreement

Speaker Tim Repa-Davies

  • Plugged a mental health gaming organization Safe In Our World 
  • Not legal advice – there is more to it – always have a lawyer review iit
  • It is ok to ask for things to be changed in a contract because the contracts were drafted to protect their business. 
  • What affects your contract negotiations? – budgets? Bigger more expensive contract will have more room for negotiation
  • If a publisher won’t negotiate that is a warning sign
  • If you are earlier in your development cycle you are riskier so you have less leverage
  • Later in your project life you have more room to negotiate because you are a less risky bet to them. They dont have to worry that you will not finish your project.
  • Contract killer #1 – What happens to your IP? Licensing it (most common way) vs Assignment (wher they buy your IP). Worse case is if you can’t get the IP back. Make sure to carve out code, tools, and technology so you can use your code for other projects.
  • Contract killer #2 – Bad license terms (time and territory) – beware long licensing periods like in perpetually.  Also be careful about what territory they will launch it in. You might hold back the rights for China because you might want to find another publisher that specializes in those countries. 
  • Contract killer #3 – Bad license terms – Platforms and Publishers – if the developer is only helping you publish on Steam don’t let them have the rights for those future platforms. An alternative is to give the publisher first shot at the option to publish on those other platforms. 
  • Contract killer #4 – The rights to publish future games like sequels or prequels? One alternative is to give them right to first refusal. Also arre you allowed to release other games in the same genre
  • Contract killer #5 – Bad payment terms – Development advances. Often tied to milestones. Publisher milestones. Publisher shouldn’t encourage scope creep that require additional resources. How long does it take for the publisher to approve and pay you
  • Contract killer #6 – When does the publisher deduct their costs. Also watch out for “internal costs” such as marketing, and porting. Ask for invoices. How does the publisher recoup their costs? Watch out because publishers will try to recover all their costs before they give you back end payments based on the game’s sales.
  • Contract killer #7 – Publisher delays and timing delays – if the publisher delays developers should not be liable. 

Inclusive Marketing for Indies

Speaker: Melissa Chaplin

Consultant at Robot Teddy

  • Melissa uses Kimberle Crenshaw’s definition of Intersectionality as “Basically a lens, a prism for seeing the ways in which various forms of inequality often operate together and exacerbate each other”
  • Melissa has a PHD in Intersectional Feminism which allows here a really unqiue view to apply what she has studied towards india game marketing. 

Principles of Intersectional Marketing

  • Humility – you will mess up and someone will offend someone which sounds bad but if you approach this as “I don’t know everything” you will respond more appropriately and in a more humble way. 
  • Empathy – Have compassion for the people who are different than your own.
  • Inclusivity – your games don’t have to appeal to everyone because they don’t like the genre. But it is not ok if they don’t like your game because it is homophobic.

Content (make games that are inclusive)

The consent of the marketing campaigns should mesh with the marketing of the games. Examples:

  • Star Seeker – the game allowed pronoun selection and defaulted to nongendered. They highlighted it in their marketing. 
  • Guildlings – Apple Arcade game – the game featured a gay relationship without making a big deal out of it and the community loved it. 
  • Wholesome Games – they will not feature your game if it holds up some form of systemic inequality. (cz note: And if you have the right type of game you really want to be part of Wholesome games is worth it! The wishlists gains were huge)
  • Accessibility – Blind Drive – can be played without visuals perfect for visually impaired streamers. Great for getting picked up by journalists.

Communications

Reach out to diverse content creators

  • Black Girl Gamers – group of streamers
  • Rainbow arcade – group of LGBT+ streamers 
  • Big Adventure event – example of organizing your own events to get small and diverse voices

Community

  • Weaving Tides – Delayed their kickstarter because of stresses of the pandemic
  • Gnosia – community manager saw comments from community where there was hurtful language in the game and reacted quickly, the owned up the mistake, and had the game patched the game within a week. Reacted quickly and didn’t take offence from the feedback.