Paradox Fully Embraces Fan-Games With Developer Affiliate Program
from the finally dept
When it comes to fan-created video games utilizing established IP, the vast majority of instances tend to result in a narrow set of responses from the original creators or publishers. The Nintendo route is to go fully nuclear as often and immediately as possible, destroying any and all attempts. Take 2 follows a similar path, albeit one that also includes actual lawsuits. Sega, on the other hand, mostly ignores fans creating their own games using Sega IP, even occasionally slightly endorsing this behavior. And that’s… sort of it. Nuke or ignore.
But some developers and publishers out there are willing to try other avenues. Recently, Paradox, creators of the popular TTRPG and video game franchise Vampire: The Masquerade, rolled out a kind of fan-developer affiliate program called World of Darkness Unbound, in which fans can make licensed fan-games in the Vampire universe and even profit off of them.
Paradox said the Unbound program was inspired by the success of the recent Vampire Jam, in which nearly 90 developers had a month to create games based on Vampire: The Masquerade’s World of Darkness mythos. “While we could only award one grand prize to Heartless Lullaby, we knew we had to create a platform that empowered our community to work on the projects they love while giving them the support they need to be successful,” World of Darkness Community Developer Martyna Zych said in a statement.
Developers that take part in the Unbound program will receive “a personal, non-exclusive, non-transferable, nonsublicensable, royalty-bearing right, and license” to the World of Darkness IP “to develop, localize, publish, sell, distribute, promote, and advertise” their game, according to an extensive license agreement.
Now, Paradox isn’t just doing this out of the goodness of its heart. The company will take a one-third cut of net revenue that comes in from any of these games. That’s a hefty percentage when you compare it to the types of cuts taken by marketplaces like Steam… but is a far healthier offering to developers of fan-games when compared with legal threats, lawsuits, and DMCA notices.
And what this really represents is a shift in how a gaming company can not only cease fighting with fans who want to express their fandom, but also a way to economically weaponize those fans instead. And the license Paradox is offering gives the company some quality control on the games that get released. The company has the right to review any games prior to publication and there are rules under which a game must operate, such as the types of settings in which they take place and that these fan-games can’t use confusing terms in their titles that would make the public think these were Paradox-created games.
So it’s not a full freeing up of fans to be able to create anything they want… but it really isn’t a bad compromise, either. And this certainly represents a paradigm shift in how a major publisher deals with the simple fact that it has fans who are also creative.
If this is successful, wider adoption in the industry could very much be a thing.
Filed Under: affiliate program, fan games, vampire, video games
Comments on “Paradox Fully Embraces Fan-Games With Developer Affiliate Program”
Its better than Meta’s we take 50% of everything you create.
It is nice to see a company finding a balance..
We reserve the right to keep you from putting crap out of our brand, but we allow you to make stuff using our brand.
If you make a really good thing, you get a large share of the profits.
Not having to worry about us sending in the stormtroopers to smash your creation, built out of love for the brand, gives you more time to craft a better game.
And considering some of the previous Vampire games thta were put out, they know what crap looks like.
It’s also better than Bethesda creation club which lumps the Steam cut inside Bethesda’s charges to total up to something like 50% (I forget the exact portion).
“The company will take a one-third cut of net revenue that comes in from any of these games. That’s a hefty percentage when you compare it to the types of cuts taken by marketplaces like Steam”
Well, sort of. If I understand it correctly, the difference is that it includes a licence to the IP, which could potentially cost thousands up front if it wasn’t part of this program, if available at all. Which would probably preclude most smaller devs from even thinking about trying to release the game on Steam.
It still a little heavy-handed from what I see and from a glance at the announcement page you’d still have to pay something to itch.io on top of Paradox’s cut, but as something to placate the lawyers and board members who normally jump straight to burning everything to the ground, it seems like a good pilot scheme that could be improved based on honest feedback.
These people let Bruva Alfabusa make a mockery of their IP. Lovingly. (On Alfabusa’s side, I mean.)
I presume the Unbound stuff comes hot off the heels from that.
If I understand it correctly, the difference is that it includes a licence to use the IP, which makes it cheaper than Steam’s prices in real terms. Think about it.
Recently, Paradox, creators of the popular TTRPG and video game franchise Vampire: The Masquerade, rolled out a kind of fan-developer affiliate program called World of Darkness Unbound, in which fans can make licensed fan-games in the Vampire universe and even profit off of them.
According to the info on Paradox’s website, the company was founded thirty years ago. That’s in the period when fan activity was totally a thing and just a few years before the invention of the World Wide Web. Compare to Nintendo, which was founded in the late 19th century, when people were expected to be passive consumers of content. In fact, a lot of the maximalists seem to have been founded before the invention of the Internet, and a lot of the permissives (for want of a better term) seem to have been founded afterwards. Same goes for the creators of other types of copyright materials, too.
Paradox didn’t create VtM. They didn’t even create the video game for it.
They might currently own the IP, but they didn’t create it, any more than Disney created Star Wars.
IIRC, a games publisher still counts as a creator even if they publish games previously released by other publishers.
That might be true for the video game (although Activision still exists and might argue the point, since they were the original publisher), but the Tabletop RPG was NOT created by Paradox. The tabletop RPG existed long before Paradox existed.
Re: Re: Re:
Oh, yes, the original owners (White Wolf) were so fucking good at making and maintaining their fucking game to the point they hired IDIOTS to make the later bits of Exalted 2.0.
Just because they were “ardent fans” of Exalted.
Let’s not even talk about how insanely BITCHY even the old guard were, to the point where they straight up contradicted their own canon.
And their extreme pandering to their idiot audience which made White Wolf haemorrage money until CCP Games (the ICELANDIC makers of EVE Online) bought the entire company, flail around endlessly trying to make a WoD game, then gave up and sold the whole kitten caboodle to Paradox.
Re: Re: Re:2
I’m not saying that White Wolf was a good company. I’m just calling out that the article said “Paradox, creators of the popular TTRPG and video game franchise Vampire: The Masquerade” and that’s not true. They have yet to create a single thing for VtM. They held a game jam and are allowing people to get some money off the results. Great! But tabletop RPGs are important and their history shouldn’t be distorted.
Re: Re: Re:2
*kit and caboodle
The Dadelus Project
Years ago vtm bloodlines a group attempting to to exactly this is where this started. Activision refused to open the source code. I’m happy to see the turnaround.
1/3 isn’t bad
When you consider that it is also a license to use the IP rather than just a market place, the 1/3 cut isn’t that bad. Vastly better than you’d get other places
It is more than just the money though. You have to sign over all your assets and code developed for the game to Paradox to do with as they will.
Now that’s shit. It’s one thing to charge people money for access to a development platform and a licence to use your IP, but completely another to charge people to be your development company. In the second scenario, the money should flow in the other direction.
Not exactly true. From the licence agreement:
Maybe not ideal if all you’re trying to do is create a work that’s 100% derivative of what came before, but it’s not taking ownership of everything you create either.
Re: Re: Re: You missed the problem.
You are the sole and exclusive owner of any Asset created by You and all rights in that Asset, which in Paradox discretion is not part of the Licensed Property or a derivative work of the Licensed Property. Everything else is owned by Paradox.
Basically, if Paradox decides that something you made is part of the licensed property, it’s theirs to deal with as they choose. Kinda like a TV producer deciding that a ship in fanfic is theirs because the characters came from their programme, and then selling stories featuring that ship for their own enrichment. In cases like that in the article, who owns what should be up to the courts to decide, not Paradox.
For just 33% of your revenue you can give someone else all the intellectual property rights to your game AND don’t get to use the name of IP you are developing for without permission from Paradox.
While it is ludicrously permissive the license is simultaneously so restrictive that it is of little use to actual developers. It will serve the fan community and the game jam community pretty well though, but not any commercial developer.