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 🙄 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.
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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.

5:02 PM · Aug 13, 2021

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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
This is so bad you should name and shame for attempts at exploiting you. I've seen tons of agreements sent privately and some are barely legal.
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I think if I felt like this was a unique contract to that business, sure - but when it's an industry-wide problem that this kind of predatory approach is the norm, I'd rather not provide an easy scapegoat, you know?
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Replying to @jakefriend_dev
When you described this to me as "exploitative" I had no idea it ran this deep. Very very glad you looked over this thoroughly and dodged that bullet! 🙏
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Replying to @jakefriend_dev
I think one of the major problems this industry has is that everyone and their mother wants to get paid to make games. That makes a lot of #gamedev easy prey which can be seen in how they are treated by employers/companies and publishing contracts etc.
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Replying to @jakefriend_dev
amen to that
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Replying to @jakefriend_dev
Great thread Jake. Another point that's been talked about is that sometimes publishers can be extremely friendly making you want to do business with them. While I don't think this is done maliciously, what happens if your 'friends' get bought out? Who owns the contract then?
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Totally. Nobody works a job forever. Maybe your publisher liaison is awesome and would even go to bat for you. What if management leans on them? What if they're fired or quit in protest of your treatment? What if they just move on? Your contract outlasts goodwill.
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Replying to @jakefriend_dev
Lawyers wrote it but they know it's shit. Thank you for sharing. I hope more people learn that contracts are great when they reflect the best interest of both parties but often abused.
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Also, THEIR lawyers wrote it hence its already biased in their favour. Definitely just a tactic on their side to strong arm less knowledgeable devs into signing
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