They don't have to start paying you your share until *30 days after the end of the QUARTER*, ie. up to 4 months past when it's *due*, and can withold "expected returns" up to 3 months more. Keep in mind, there's also no legal obligation to show you any financial records.
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Oh yeah - and your (eventual) share is also expected to cover all global sales tax. Why would *that* be a burden the party responsible for handling sales covers?
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I'm an individual and they're a corporation - letting me earn literally any money pre-recoup doesn't affect the eventual full recoupment or hurt them in any way, at all, either as a business or as individuals.
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Catch them underpaying you? There's no penalty clause (you're repaid only what was withheld), and you're going to pay for that auditor even if you DO prove fraud. For the Nth time, the exploitation is not just penalty-free but also PROFITABLE if I don't opt to gamble that cost.
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Have a disagreement over being told to add advertising systems to your game, or over changing/adding content you don't agree with? Guess what - they can have a 3rd-party dev it anyway, and you're paying for it. (Also no defined budget/cost limit on this, as before)
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When I voiced heavy concerns with the contract, they were surprised. Like, very honestly surprised. Again, I don't think they *meant* harm or to exploit. But predatory behaviour has been normalized in the industry. I guess it just doesn't stand out anymore.
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GIF
They responded by asserting the contract *couldn't* be exploitative b/c top lawyers in the industry wrote it ๐Ÿ™„ and b/c other devs have signed it. The fact that they still easily sign devs on this is a poor reflection on the industry, not a vote in favour of the practice.
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Important context: They approached *me*. I wasn't looking for a publisher, and already had enough (barely, but enough) Kickstarter funds to go without them. These were the terms offered with literally as much leverage as someone in my in my position can have.
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If you're reading this hoping to find a publisher to take your small project to the next level: Get the contract. READ the contract. Skip to the terms of termination and check what happens if something goes wrong.
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Check how often and how quickly you get paid, and what visibility you have into the accounting process. Check how disagreements are resolved, and what triggers penalization. Check that they actually have to launch your game. CHECK.
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No matter what you're told conversationally, and regardless of if the people you're speaking with mean well (which they probably do), the legal terms are the ONLY guarantees you have as to how the business has to treat you - and a business will never put you first in a pinch.

5:02 PM ยท Aug 13, 2021

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You are a person. They are a business. Don't capitulate and don't indebt yourself. Me, I'm going to make the damn game anyways, you know? Be good to each other. Thanks for reading.
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Some follow-up - can't reply to all comments anymore.
No idea how to respond to all the positive support. Thank you #indiedev. I'm really glad this has sparked more conversation, and to to see a lot of comments from devs saying they'll approach publisher contracts a lot more cautiously now. Some questions/answers/thoughts ITT:
Show this thread
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Replying to @jakefriend_dev
Good for you for standing your ground and reading through the contract because you are absolutely right. No problems if everyone gets on, but they have the guillotine out back if they feel you aren't playing nice.
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Replying to @jakefriend_dev
Similar advise RE: Landlords. A lot of it sounds EXACTLY the same.
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Replying to @jakefriend_dev
Yeah, they're not your friends. It's the same when being employed at a company, the company is not your friend. All you have which regulates your relationship is the contract. I'm sure many of the other devs signed because "they seem really nice!".
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