Can somebody tell me something about the legal aspect of game development.

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The_Hermit_1971 101 Feb 08, 2012 at 19:50

I’m an aspiring game developer and I wanna know about the legal requirements of selling a game. I’m thinking about programming a fishing game to sell it at the best marketplace possible. Do I need a company and a brand name in order to sell the game? Can I sell it with none of those. What’s the best marketplace to sell it?

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geon 101 Feb 08, 2012 at 22:34

@The_Hermit_1971

Do I need a company and a brand name in order to sell the game?

Not really.

Apple will let you register as an individual for the Mac- and iOS app stores. ($99/year fee, so don’t bother unless you actually know how to make games)
https://developer.apple.com/programs/which-program/

Same thing for Microsoft (Xbox Live)

http://create.msdn.com/en-US/home/faq/xbox_live_indie_games#xboxfaq-payments

Valve (steam) doesn’t mention anything about it:
http://www.steampowered.com/steamworks/title-submission.php

@The_Hermit_1971

What’s the best marketplace to sell it?

That’s kind of subjective, but also irrelevant since they are all tied to some platform. If you want to make xbox games, you can’t use the Apple App Store…

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TheNut 179 Feb 08, 2012 at 23:47

As geon stated, it’s not necessary. In your particular case, you could setup a sole proprietorship whereby you treat business income as personal income for income tax purposes. You don’t have to register your business with your government, but there’s benefits for doing so. First off, you have to register if you want to legally register a company. A sole proprietorship generally needs to use their birth name as the business name, such as “Fred Barny’s Auto Shop”, but would generally be disallowed to go under the name “The Auto Shop” without proper registration. You could do it, but if you step on someone’s toes (ie: the trade name is taken), then you could run into legal problems. You also get some financial perks through registration, such as ITCs and small business tax rates here in igloo land. Dunno about the states though. I hear the IRS loves to nickle and dime its own citizens :D

There have been anecdotal evidence suggesting that the Apple Store generates the most sales, or put simply Apple users don’t hesitate to spend money, Windows users are down the middle, and Android users are downright cheap. It also depends on your business model. A lot of developers are moving towards the “Free to Play” model where you earn revenue through advertisements. I’ve read some blog posts about successes with that model, so in this case you want to target the platform with the most users. In the end, it has to be something you can do. For example, Android does not have any platform standards so you could end up having to test multiple devices to ensure compatibility. That would occupy a lot of your time away from game development.

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The_Hermit_1971 101 Feb 09, 2012 at 16:15

Let’s say I choose to publish my fishing game for free. How can I find an advertisement network and how can I integrate it into my game?

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TheNut 179 Feb 09, 2012 at 18:17

Depending on your platform, it would probably be best if you scour the official forums and see what other people use and their success rates. Some ad networks out there are Google’s AdMob, Millenial Media, and Smaato to get you started. Microsoft recently got into the ad business as well, but they’re fairly new and limited if you develop for the Win Phone. As far as integration goes, the ad network should provide you with an SDK once you register yourself and your product with them. Some ad networks pay by check, others pay by wire transfer after you meet a certain minimum balance (generally \~$200 USD). Generally it’s a straightforward process to integrate their SDK into your app. It will handle the ad rotations and display logic for you.

– edit
I forgot to mention that depending on your platform, there are certain rules involved with displaying ads. You will need to review the submission requirements document for your intended platform to ensure you meet those requirements. Your app submissions can fail if you do not comply with them. If you’re targeting the PC, then it’s up to you how you want to display ads. Personally I would follow the same rules as mobile devices because you don’t want to annoy your gamers with large obtrusive ads.

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alphadog 101 Feb 09, 2012 at 18:44

I would go a bit further than TheNut says and say you should, at a minimum in the US, form an LLC. Sole proprietorship does not afford the same legal protections and entity separation that an LLC provides. The “LL” in “LLC” stands for limited liability. And, for the most benefit, go for an S Corp. That provides even more legal separation between your business and your personal assets, at a cost of slightly more complex accounting and other filing needs.

It just takes one crazy person with a penchant for a lawsuit for you to risk losing your business, your house, etc…

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The_Hermit_1971 101 Feb 10, 2012 at 01:42

In the case that I register my business as an LLC, how can I protect the individual games. Should I register their titles as a brand name? What kind of protection will I get if I register a Company name as an LLC and my game title as a brand?

Also how can I protect my game in the case that I decide to not register an LLC or a brand?

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alphadog 101 Feb 10, 2012 at 21:00

You can trademark various unique marks in the game or in your company, that are not already trademarked by someone else in the same industry. You can copyright the source code, and you could arguably patent aspects of code. You do not need to be a corporation to do any of this.

Incorporating gives you legal protection against seizure of personal assets, present and future, of the shareholders.

IOW, patents, trademarks and copyrights protect the corporate assets, but incorporation protects shareholders’ personal assets.

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geon 101 Feb 11, 2012 at 12:44

You are overthinking it. Create your game first, then worry about selling it. It will take you years of work before you have something anyone would want to pay for.

Don’t worry about protecting your ideas ideas are a dime a dozen, ane everyone has their own plans for that perfect mmorpglolwutrotflmfao.

Don’t worry about a brand. When you are new, no one will recognize your brand anyway. If you actually create a game worth paying for, you still have LOTS of hard work to do and money to spend to market it. Worry about that first. A publisher might be a good idea for this. Companies like Chillingo even do quality assurance and may help withth constructive criticism. (Some parts of a game is bound to suck until you get someone with a fresh mind look at it.)