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Developers Wanted!

June 5, 2011 in Company News and Info, Events by

Unity is all about the content. Developers create the amazing content which make our tools, technology and products so compelling. Unity has added a dedicated Developer Relations team to not only assist you in creating the best content possible, but also to help you reach more users and make more money. We’re here to help you! We have some great developer programs we’ll be rolling out this year. Look for us at variety of industry events including Unite 2011, and you can always reach us at devrel@unity3d.com.

You can meet the Unity DevRel team this week at the annual E3 Expo in Los Angeles. We’ll be at the Sony Ericsson booth in South Hall #713. Stop by and show us your commercial Unity game and receive an exclusive Unity Developer T-Shirt! Hear about how to optimize your games for the Android-based Sony Xperia PLAY and the many other platforms we support. The Union team will also be present to discuss opportunities to bring your games to new devices, markets and services.

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Also be sure to check out the amazing Glu Mobile 500Gs Developer Contest. Submissions must be created with Unity and it’s a great chance for your creativity and gameplay to earn you part of the $500k USD in worldwide prizes. Time is short for submissions, so don’t delay!

We look forward to working with you and seeing what you create with Unity!

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gadfly
5 Jun 2011, 11:23 pm

$500k USD in Prizes! ?

From the contest Rules.

“PRIZES: ONE (1) GRAND PRIZE:
The Grand Prize consists of: A publishing contract with Sponsor to market and distribute your Submission (the “Grand Prize”) (Approximate retail value of up to $225,500 USD).
Upon full execution of the publishing contract, according to terms determined solely by Sponsor, Winner will receive (i) an amount to be determined, but not more than $75,000, to complete the Submission for publication (“Development Funding”), and (ii) approximately $150,500 which amount shall be administered by Sponsor and used to pay for (a) costs of porting the Submission for use on devices/platforms other than the device/platform utilized by the Grand Prize Winner for the Submission, and (b) the direct costs of marketing the Submission; the Grand Prize Winner may also receive royalties to be earned under the publishing contract; the amount of royalties are subject to the degree of commercial success of the Submission. Sponsor will establish what additional features are to be included in the final form of the Submission for publication and establish a disbursement schedule of the Development Funding according to certain development milestones. In addition, Sponsor will establish the additional devices/platforms to which the Submission will be ported. Sponsor will determine the royalty rates to be paid under the publishing contract, if any, which will depend on the format in which the Submission is published and the projected distribution period. You may not negotiate the publishing contract with Sponsor, and you must sign it “as is” upon receipt of the executable contract if you wish to enter into the publishing contract being awarded and be eligible to win the Grand Prize. The publishing contract will be governed by the laws of the State of California, U.S.A. If the Grand Prize Winner does not agree to the terms of the publishing contract, the Grand Prize will be forfeited. For a summary of the terms and conditions of the publishing contract, please contact gPartnersContest@glu.com.

ouch. On its own, that’s not much of a “prize”.

But wait. It gets worse. All entries and ideas “are belong to us”, the contest organisers, to copy, pilfer or do whatever they like with.

Again, from the rules:

“You acknowledge and understand that Sponsor and/or its Corporate Partners may independently develop applications that may be similar to or identical to your Submission in terms of theme, idea, function, or in other respects. You agree that you will not be entitled to any rights in, or compensation in connection with, any such similar or identical applications and/or ideas.”

So that’s fun. Share your idea, lose, and it’ll be copied. They’ll have all your scripts, artwork, content and idea to use as they please. For your chance to win a “publishing contract” on their terms… that you must sign, as is.

Cynical. At best. Exploitive? Definitely.

Good luck to those that enter…. as you may not, in any other way, release or publicise your game once entered, until the contest is finished, and announced.

Also from the rules:
“You also agree that you will not use your entry Submission for any purposes, other than in connection with this Contest or for personal use, until the Grand Prize Winner is announced.”

Lance
6 Jun 2011, 9:25 am

Nice someone reads the fine print. Thanks for posting that back on here. This “event” seems like a sad attempt to poach peoples projects all wrapped in a nice legal bow for the organizers. Thanks but no thanks.

unitor
6 Jun 2011, 10:23 am

Sounds like a scam.
I really hope to get unity response asap.

    6 Jun 2011, 6:29 pm

    Thanks for the feedback. We appreciate that not every contest or opportunity is appropriate for every type of developer. Yes, there are restrictions and strong terms for this contest (although not nearly as strong as some other contests we’ve seen run recently.) We spent time with Glu when designing this contest to ensure that developers would be protected – you give up no rights to your IP unless you accept the grand prize. For many developers, especially those seeking a publisher, growing to the next stage of company, or even to show their capability for work-for-hire, this is an excellent vehicle to get Glu and the world’s attention.

    For additional details, please read the interview with Glu’s CCO.

    We’ll be posting some additional information about the contest on this blog soon, and address some of these particular concerns. And we’d love to talk in person at E3 for whichever Unity developers are attending.

gadfly
6 Jun 2011, 10:27 pm

Just about every point the Glu CCO makes in that interview is either directly, or indirectly contradicted by the legal terms of the contest, as per its rules. His interview, without exception, having the significantly better terms: so much so that a casual read would lead one to believe it’s two entirely different contests.

Some examples.

Grand Prize
Interview: winner wins a total of $125,000 cash plus the global publishing contract.
Rules: Grand Prize winner receives UPTO $75,000, as “work for hire” to finish the game to publishers specs, without negotiation on the other terms of the publishing deal, and with milestones to get that $75k. Strictly speaking NOT a prize. A work for hire contract, tied to an unseen, non-negotiable publishing contract.

IP contract/terms:
Interview: Glu will engage with winning developer to craft mutually agreeable and standard industry publishing terms. Our goal is to support developers, not take their first born!
Rules: You may not negotiate the publishing contract with Sponsor, and you must sign it “as is” upon receipt of the executable contract if you wish to enter into the publishing contract being awarded and be eligible to win the Grand Prize.

The big takeway from the interview? That Mr Mori is at least, in brackets, honest about his intents. Also from the interview, note the part in brackets:
Mr Mori: One of our goals for the contest (aside from developing and procuring the highest quality 3D social mobile games) is to further the growth of the mobile gaming industry as a whole through driving higher quality standards, 3D, and social features.

So, Mr Bruning, since you seem to think the measure of what you can and should get away with in terms of “restrictions and strong terms” for a “contest”, I challenge you to show us anything worse than the terms of this 500g “contest” in the mobile gaming industry at this size and scope, partnered with a mobile phone maker, game engine and publisher, all of whom should know better.

Having done that, then perhaps explain ANY situation where you might need to abuse the efforts of developers/designers with this horrendously onerous piece of language that allows all three partners, Sony Ericcson, Unity and Glu, to copy together or individually, ANY or ALL aspects of a submission with complete impunity and immunity from the real designer/developer:>

“You acknowledge and understand that Sponsor and/or its Corporate Partners may independently develop applications that may be similar to or identical to your Submission in terms of theme, idea, function, or in other respects. You agree that you will not be entitled to any rights in, or compensation in connection with, any such similar or identical applications and/or ideas.”

I can think of no legitimate, fair minded or decent need for the above clause. Can you?

    7 Jun 2011, 12:21 am

    I appreciate your concern and welcome your comments. In the hope that other readers want to learn more, I’m happy to elaborate here. However I believe this is not the proper forum for extended debate.

    It’s a practical reality that individuals and companies should protect themselves legally. Most creative publishers (books, movies, art, games, etc.) have a similar clause in their submission process, if they allow submissions at all. It’s common to see similar wording in standard NDAs. What constitutes a theme, idea, function or other aspect of a submission is open to interpretation. Your car racing game submission shouldn’t prevent a publisher from ever creating a game in that genre. Your short story about vampires shouldn’t prevent a publisher from releasing other horror books. The best way to avoid those interpretation issues is to clearly state the legal stance in this type of clause.

    By way of example, you can review the Terms and Conditions of Google’s Android Developer Challenge. The relevant section states –

    “You acknowledge and understand that Google and/or members of the Open Handset Alliance may independently develop applications that may be similar to or identical to your Entry in terms of theme, idea, function, or in other respects. You agree that you will not be entitled to any rights in, or compensation in connection with, any such similar or identical applications and/or ideas.”

    Please understand that entering this contest is a choice, and may not be the right choice for you. It may be the catalyst for an enduring career in game development for the right developer. Any time you leap forward and reach for great rewards, there are risks. I encourage Unity developers to strive for greatness, and this contest is one of many paths a developer can pursue.

gadfly
7 Jun 2011, 7:50 am

If you’re going to suggest that replies under a blog post about this contest with the title “Developers Wanted” is an inappropriate place for discussion of the restrictions and strong terms of this contest, then you’d best suggest an alternative that is better.

Until then:

The commonality of this nasty clause does not mean it ever survives the first round of discussion between a creative with representation and a publisher of any art form. Sadly it is and indictment of the publishing industry and their continued abuse of copyright that this sort of clause is entirely, disgustingly common for publishers to place in first draft contracts. Mostly in the vain hope that they’re signing an ignorant artist without representation or legal knowledge, hopefully naive to boot. When baited into a contest, that’s almost a certainty, and certainly no place for such a clause.

In the history of creatives vs publishers this particularly common and affronting effort by publishers to remove themselves from the curtailment of any good that copyright might provide a creative has been the single greatest cause for concern.

For one simple reason. It’s easily abused, and systemically is.

You mention a “submission process” and in that you’re starting to get closer to what I’d consider the truth of what this contest is. Glu, seemingly unable to get creatives, developers and designers to see them as a good choice for publishing of their work, have chosen to “advertise” via a “contest”. That this contest is bait for submissions to this publisher is apparent to those that read it thoroughly. Not a contest, nor really a “prize” in the sense that the average reader perceives a $500g Cash Prize pool to be. It’s a non-negotiable contract with perceived value that’s not detailed in any meaningful way.

My hope would be this… that any creatives considering this prize/contest scenario see it for what it is, and realise that the first thing they should do is begin PROPERLY submitting their games to real publishers outside of such ludicrous, onerous and presumptive clauses without rights to negotiate. As there’s a good chance if their games good enough to win this “prize” they can get better terms under real negotiations with a less deceptive publisher.

The endeavour, with such a clause, is what you’ve forgotten to mention. And that is: in the event the publisher has been working on, exposed to via previous contract or otherwise active in creating something similar to that which is submitted to them, they wish to not be impeded by the submission of this new piece of creative endeavour that’s in any way similar. It’s a simple enough reality, and it’s simple enough to solve without being onerous or prickish.

The simple way around this, and the path most often taken, is that the clause pertaining to similar work has a proof of existence of the past similar project in the publishers reality. Ideally proof of that project must be made by publisher to submitter within a VERY limited timeframe of the submission, removing the chance of duplication or plagiarism as much as possible, with recognition by submitter signed as proof that he acknowledges such similarities as he agrees exist, in order for the publisher to claim such rights to a similar product/art/piece whatever for their independent production future. At this point a reverse NDA may come into play, holder the original submitter liable for any abuse of the knowledge gleaned in this process.

Without this sort of clause to protect the submitter from publisher abuse/use of his ideas, this kind of clause endlessly perpetuates abuses by the publisher, in my experience, something they’re actually hoping to achieve if they proffer such a clause without due consideration of such similar works inherent to that clause and the circumstance.

With the advent of the appstore, the onus of proof on value that a publisher contributes to a game for mobile really is on the publisher. Which is something this contest, Glu, yourself and SE have made no effort to focus on at all… there’s no mention of how this publishing contract “prize” will benefit the creative. Likely because it cannot be quantified or qualified anymore than the anecdotal style commentary you’re giving on the value of a publishing contract. Not all publishers are equal, not all publishing contracts are equal, and particularly not this one.

But much worse, in this instance, this terrible clause has a double impact because the creative responsible for the design and development is not allowed, under the contest rules, to promote, seed, disseminate or otherwise further his productions visibility outside the realms of this contest and his potential future relationship with Glu. A relationship that is not yet certain and which he has no right to negotiate the structure of.

Adding all that up, the Glu/Unity/SE contest is more onerous than the google/android contest. By a good margin. Especially when considering that Unity, Glu and SE make for the perfect partnership to replicate any game design they come across that’s created in Unity’s engine for mobile. You’ve gotta prove that you’re benign, we already know the game maker/designer is. You need to clearly demonstrate that you have no malignant intentions to scalp ideas, concepts, art, code, scripts, structures, gameplay etc. The onus of proof is on you, and Glu. SE likely have little idea what’s in the contract, nor care, so desperate are they for anything of value to go onto the Xperia Play.

Again, if we just stopped there, that would be bad enough. However the game rules go further, explicitly, often repeating the fact that all entrants have no right of recourse to the Sponsor or their partners should something disagreeable take place. The contest organisers have, for some reason, assumed they’re entitled to all rights, including the plagiarism of games submitted to the contest.

At what point did comparing yourselves to google “do no evil” become any indication of quality in contractual relationships with your developers? Come on, surely you can set your sights a little higher than the lowest common denominator.

And why have you completely avoided discussions on the contradictions between the interview with Glu’s COO and the contest Rules despite your suggestion that the interview supplies “additional details” of the contest?

    7 Jun 2011, 9:31 am

    It’s a pleasure to see a well thought through opinion. You offer valuable insight from your perspective and I hope developers consider your views when deciding how to proceed with their games and business. A simple and clear take away is that developers should always read the Terms of Service and understand what they are agreeing to.

    The contest is one of many methods for a developer to showcase their games to the world and I’m glad you emphasized some of the other ways.

Mo
8 Jun 2011, 2:40 pm

I stopped by the sony Ericsson booth both days so far, didn’t see any Unity people there. You guys there all day?

I WANT MAH T-SHIRT.

9 Jun 2011, 12:36 am

Man, I’ve never been nervous meeting anybody in person before, and I’ve come across some pretty well-know faces – gut I got pretty geeked out when I went up to meet Tracy Erickson.

He’s a pretty friendly guy, but I had no idea how much of a Unity “fanboy” I was before meeting him, so I didn’t exactly expect to feel sudden bouts of shyness.

Got the t-shirt though – I think that made E3 for me.

Jason Mann
10 Jun 2011, 12:09 am

Thank you Gadfly for taking the time and patience to assimilate and offer criticism on this competitions terms and conditions.

You make very valid points concerning both the potential nefarious terms and the lack of legal protection that such a contest/publishing deal slaps on a creative.

This also raises the obvious question; why do Unity creatives need a mobile publisher when the costs to release to market are so low? The only thing they seem to bring to the table is a small budget and a huge potential for the creative to get legally screwed.

Thank you again Gadfly.

For developers looking for funding, Unity have their own publishing service called Union, there is the Indie fund made from World of Goo and Braid developers for developers, and IndieGogo / KickStarter, all of which offer better hugely more favourably terms.

1 Sep 2011, 7:17 am

Can I copyright 20 pages of old newspaper articles ?

3 Sep 2011, 5:44 pm

Nice someone reads the fine print. Thanks for posting that back on here. This “event” seems like a sad attempt to poach peoples projects all wrapped in a nice legal bow for the organizers. Thanks but no thanks

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