Paying your team after game is finished?

Discussion in 'Commercial Games Discussion' started by Lorenze, Jul 27, 2012.

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  1. Lorenze

    Lorenze Veteran Veteran

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    I was thinking about something recently, and I'd like to have everyone's opinion on it.

    What would you think about having your team being paid after the game has been released,

    and money has been made?

    Example: The game was released, and a week later the game has made $1000. It's split equally

    upon all the team members. So basically, if the game isn't so successful, nobody gets much money.

    If the game becomes the next Minecraft, every single person on the team gets rich. But throughout

    development, nobody on the team gets paid for their efforts.

    What do you think of this? I think it's very risky, but it could pay off in the end.
     
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  2. Usagi

    Usagi Lord Veteran

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    It depends. Generally speaking, if you make your own game from scratch and then market it and it sells like wildfire, you'll be a self-made millionaire. However, if you have to split that with your whole team then you're really not going to get as much rather than paying them by a weekly salary like normal. For example, if you work for a game design firm and you make $20 / hour and the game doesn't sell, you still make $20 / hour and then even if it sells like hotcakes, you still make $20 / hour.

    Simple.
     
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  3. Mako

    Mako Veteran Veteran

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    Yeah I don't think this is a practical solution. What if the game never releases? All the hard work a team does was all for free... And there is a number of things that could prevent a release.
     
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  4. Bird Eater

    Bird Eater Boredom is just another thing you want to avoid Veteran

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    If the team is made out of your friends and yourself, and you all thought at the same time: "LET'S MAKE A GAME!", then payment comes afterwards.

    If you request strangers or semi-strangers YOU invite to the so called 'team' to make stuff, pay them in advance.

    You might wanna use a combination of the two, though. You might feel bad if you comissioned five people to make stuff for you, and they spent at least half the time you did on it, and you're the only one getting millions. This would of course depend on the succes, but still...
     
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  5. The JJ

    The JJ Black Veteran

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    Yeah I agree what everyone else is saying,If it's just a group of friends, you're just putting your talents together to make money whereas with people who you don't know, They want to get paid for their talents, not really for the sales. You wouldn't go to Apple to apply for a job to help develop the new iPad 4 or something like that and it takes like 2 years to complete and no one ends up buying it, you would have wasted your time and have made no money when you could have applied for something more worth the while, if you get what I mean.
     
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  6. Indinera

    Indinera Indie Dev Veteran

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    It's called royalties payment and is nothing new. Whether you prefer this method or a fixed amount is up to you (as the developer of the game), both parties usually agree beforehand.
     
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  7. Genii Benedict

    Genii Benedict Supervillain, Extraordinaire Veteran

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    This is the key, right here. And from a proven, reliable, and knowledgeable, experienced source, no less! I respect everybody else's opinions above, however, it is really up to the game developer as to their pay structure. Now, will they have challenges in finding quality workers who will work for free up front, and for a payout if the game makes money? Likely. Will they encounter personalities that say, "I'm worth more than a promise! Pay me, or I won't work!" Certainly! The whole film industry is filled with examples of these types of arrangements.

    Let me give you an example of how this could play out in the game development world:

    The New Game Developer comes on the scene, and learns everything he can about the RPGMaker program. He has (what he believes to be) a great idea for a game that's going to be fun and unique, and isn't going to be just another entry into a saturated genre. It offers gameplay that will be interesting, a story that will be engaging, and some replayability. He/She chooses to develop a 'prequel' to his/her game, and to develop it all his/herself. Months later, he/she releases a demo to a small group of playtesters, fixes the bugs, tweaks the elements they agreed were lacking, and releases it to the public. He/She does some basic marketing, spends a bit of money, and overall, receives positive (fair-to-good) reviews. Now, the New Game Developer, with some experience and knowledge under his/her belt, decides to create "the" commercial game. He/She polls the local talent, and armed with his/her experience and positive 'word of mouth', asks for volunteers to provide some graphic, music and scripting work, with the agreement that if/when the game is released, those involved will receive royalties based upon their involvement as well as the game's success. Everything is written into contracts or agreements, and everything is understood and agreed to before any work is done.

    With the above model, there is still the important question of "will the game sell?" Obviously, this is the pink elephant in the room, however, here are a LOT of positives in regards to the way the New Game Developer went about asking for help. He/She gained experience by working on their own, made a 'free' game, to showcase his/her talents, and made sure that everything was in writing, understood and agreed to. These three items make it a lot more convincing to those who will, in the future, agree to work with/for such a developer.

    Of course, this is but one example of some positives within the whole 'development cycle'. There are a far greater number of examples than I have quoted here, in my limited experience, and a greater number of examples of 'bad ideas' in the course of attempting to garner new talent to your project.

    In my own project, I'm presently on the 'learning as much as I can' part of my example, and am working towards releasing a free demo of my own game series. I'm not going to say that future releases will be commercial, because I'm not at that part quite yet. Personally, I need to see what the first release receives by way of criticism and praise, and then I will determine whether or not the next release will be for profit, or a continuation of my learning process. For that, only time will tell.

    GB
     
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  8. Touchfuzzy

    Touchfuzzy Rantagonist Staff Member Lead Eagle

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    All I know is that I would never accept a royalty payment only agreement from someone who wasn't A. my friend that I would do it for anyway generally without pay if I had the time, or B. an established developer that has a reputation for FINISHING GAMES.

    Seriously, 99% of planned RM games fail. Outside of like, Shaz, Indinera, Nathanial, and a a few others who have finished commercial projects, I wouldn't really trust that people would get done with a game. I would probably trust someone like Archeia, who has actually finished a good many noncommercial projects as well, even though commercial considerations are a bit different than noncommercial.

    That being said, I can't imagine what anyone would hire me to do anyway aha. Unless they wanted a dialogue writer. I'm just pointing out my perspective on paid work. Up front is generally best in RM. RM Devs as a whole are not the most reliable bunch, even though some individual ones are.
     
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  9. sabao

    sabao Veteran Veteran

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    ^What he said. I remember not too long ago of a commercial project that actually got done and was sold online (The name escapes me at the moment. I do recall it being on HBGames though). The team behind the guy making it never got their royalties, or any compensation to speak of.
     
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  10. Genii Benedict

    Genii Benedict Supervillain, Extraordinaire Veteran

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    And 87.3% of all statistics on the Internet are made up on the fly...

    :D

    I'm happy to see you delivered your opinion with a minimum of elitism. (That's not an insult.) It is, absolutely, a matter of trust, and risk vs. reward. And you would obviously be more experienced in knowing exactly who has a greater chance of finishing their game(s), seeing as you have the benefit of being in the position that you currently hold. That being said, there will always be that new developer who appears to have the chops and the right personality to convince those around him/her to help out, with the promise of riches ahead.

    I do find it sad, however, to hear what Sabao mentioned, about a Team getting screwed out of the profits. That's completely disheartening.
     
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  11. Archeia

    Archeia Level 99 Demi-fiend Staff Member Developer

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    ^ I remember that, it's "something" Rose and he never paid back the development team.
     
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  12. Touchfuzzy

    Touchfuzzy Rantagonist Staff Member Lead Eagle

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    Aha, well, yeah, I don't know the exact percentage, but there is a very high failure rate on finished games. I'm mostly just cautioning people to be careful with what they do. Check out what the person has already done, and what their reputation is. People come in and out all the time and are going to make the "next big thing" and most of them never pan out.

    I mean, ask Nathanial, we were skeptical of him for the full development time of Fated Haven until it actually released, because it was exactly what we had seen before, a person comes in and is going to make an awesome commercial game, and we expected what normally happens: it gets dropped and people move on and its never spoken of again.

    Not to say I don't support new commercial devs coming in, I'm happy to see anyone working on a game, I just want people to understand how little actually get finished, and if you are waiting on completion to get paid, in most cases, you aren't going to get paid ever. So if the payment is the main reason you are doing it, and its an unheard of dev with no rep, best to get money up front, imo.
     
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  13. Indrah

    Indrah Megane Berserker Veteran

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    Pff yeah,what people have already said.

    The team leader/dev has to be really, REALLY sure they're gonna finish and go ahead with the thing, because it's so EASY to tell yourself "yeah, let's do this" and then totally fail to deliver.

    For commercial games, that doesn't pass. In non-commercial at least you only waster your own time, but ugh: I know people who will swear up, down, and on a disemboweled toad that THIS TIME they will finish a game, and then absolutely fail to get anywhere with it.

    So before anything be really, really honest with YOURSELF about what's going to happen realistically. If you know you have not finished a single game but keep telling yourself it will be fine THIS TIME...just don't.
     
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  14. Touchfuzzy

    Touchfuzzy Rantagonist Staff Member Lead Eagle

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    /shot

    (Granted, I've long since concluded that the idea of me finishing a game is laughable.)
     
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  15. Indrah

    Indrah Megane Berserker Veteran

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    No, we're not talking about that kind of commitement, Touch. We're talking about people who will SWEAR. Then forget. And when asked, instead of simply saying "nah, its not working", will backpedal and SWEAR ALL OVER AGAIN that they will do it, right now, just you believe them. And the same thing happens all over again.

    I'm talking about a certain level of NOT LEARNING from experience. Most of us know (even if we refuse to admit it) that at some point we will lose interest or things won't work, and try again(or not), but trying to pretend that lapse never happened and REPEAT THOSE MISTAKES without learning anything from them or ever considering what's going wrong.

    Well in short I'm talkign about extreme cases. And they exist. (And Touch, I've never heard you SWEAR you would do something and then fail to see it simply didn't work like that).

    And I'm applying this specially to COMMERCIAL projects, because if you bring other team members into the equation that means they get hosed over by that so much harder.
     
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  16. BigEd781

    BigEd781 undefined method 'stupid_title' found for nil:NilC Veteran

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    People seem to be assessing this as if we were talking about a mature game development company. We are not. This is very typical for small groups, and even for small start-ups, where you typically make less than you would working at a larger company, but you also get shares in the company. What this really means is that your total payment is somewhat tied to the success (or failure) of the company.

    I think this is about the only reasonable way to pay a group when talking about an RPG Maker game. To expect payment up front is silly; this is a hobbiest engine after all, how many development coordinators are in a position to pay people a weekly salary? Not many, if any.
     
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  17. Touchfuzzy

    Touchfuzzy Rantagonist Staff Member Lead Eagle

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    Honestly I look at it more like commissioned work than a job. The only way revenue sharing works is if there is any belief that revenue would come out of it, and in most cases with RM I wouldn't expect that.

    I would suggest anyone who wants to work with people on a revenue sharing type basis should work on making a few noncommercial, free resource games that don't require anyone elses help so that he can build up a rep for completing things, and perhaps work up a good network in the community itself to draw from.
     
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  18. Indinera

    Indinera Indie Dev Veteran

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    This is exactly what it is, in most cases. A specific task for a specific price (upfront).

    Isn't revenue sharing essentially the same as royalties? Not my native language so not entirely sure.
     
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  19. RyanA

    RyanA Happy Cat Veteran

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    I think it's usually nicest to pay get commisions for all of your stuff :3 If the game is super succesful, I'd give a little something extra to all the people who helped me out just as a thank you <3
     
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  20. Shaz

    Shaz Veteran Veteran

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    This does happen in the commercial industry, but it's quite rare. If you're asking "what are my chances of having someone help me with my game on the promise of royalties?" then it depends on a lot of things - have you completed a game before? Have you released a game commercially before, and how well did it do? Who are you asking? Are they people who do it for fun and won't depend on getting anything at all, or people who make a living doing it, and might not be prepared to take the risk that it won't get completed / sell / that you won't actually pay?

    I agree on the idea of making a small game first, just to get it completed, and show people you can see a game through from start to finish. That'll inspire a bit of confidence in anyone you want to approach. Then maybe talk to people who do it for fun and would be happy to help you even if there was no money involved at all. If the game is finished, and if it sells, and if you give them something, that'll be a bonus.

    If you do promise royalties, make sure it's all in writing, and that everyone agrees, and then make sure you follow through with it. The other thing to consider is whether to specify an end date: 20% of profits for the first X years. Otherwise when sales peter out and you're only selling a few units a month (or a year) you will STILL have to keep track of everyone's share and keep paying them. Be clear about what expenses have to come out first, as the money you have available to distribute may not be the same as the money you get from sales.

    You could also consider a part-payment up-front, with the rest being made up in royalties. Then at least they'll know they're going to get something for their work.

    Edit: Indy, yes, revenue sharing is the same as royalties
     
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