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Dashboard Forums Ask Me Anything Kirk Dennison, from Thunderworks Games Reply To: Kirk Dennison, from Thunderworks Games

  • Kirk Dennison

    March 31, 2022 at 1:18 pm

    Hi Gabe,

    That is a great question! I would focus on budgeting / cost containment, effective contracts, and communication with family.

    1) For budgeting, you should look at the overall cost of the project before committing to any large expenses. I’ve seen many publishers pay way more for artwork than was prudent for a game and then end up losing money or barely breaking even. Make sure to get solid estimates for manufacturing, fulfillment, and freight and then add 10-20% buffer.

    I’ve had to abandon one project because I didn’t take a close enough look at numbers to start with – losing a couple thousand dollars on the designer license advance and the box cover illustration made more sense than spending hundreds of hours to make a minimal profit.

    2) Before signing any agreement with a designer, IP holder, or artist, review or write the contract carefully and pay for legal help if you are uncertain. You need perpetual rights to the game, IP, or artwork – whatever it takes (annual sales targets or annual payment minimums are both good options to retain the rights perpetually). If your agreement allows for the deal to terminate while the game is still selling well, then you risk the other party pulling the game and selling to a bigger party or a tough re-negotiation over compensation.

    Also make sure that sub-license agreements are covered effectively. You need to ensure you can still pay the original rights holder and make money yourself. Also structure the language so that the rights to sub-licenses revert to the rights holder at the earliest possible timing if the base contract is terminated.

    3) Be up front with your family and loved ones regarding the time commitment of your new publishing venture. You will likely spend 15+ hours per week until the game is released and then 5-10 hours per week with ongoing sales and customer service items for another 6-12 months. Assuming that you continue to work your day job while starting your publishing gig, most of your late evenings / early mornings and weekends will be filled with publishing work.