(AD) Legal Issues that Game Developers Need to Address

Developing a game takes a lot of hard work. Once it has been edited and tested, the next phase is to sell it to gamers the world over. There are, however, a few legal issues that developers need to navigate before they can start to sell or publicise their finished product.

These issues range from copyright to players’ rights and tax. In an industry worth over $100 billion according to recent statistics, being in line with the law is worth every penny. The first issue that developers should look at is copyright. Before even starting to create a game, they should make sure their idea is unique enough not to upset the makers of one that already exists.

Browsing through Steam, Google Play or the App Store will make it easier to see if a similar idea to yours has already been given the green light. If you are certain that your game doesn’t breach copyright, the next step is to secure a players’ licence.

Licensing Laws

In the US, copyright law states that your game should have a players’ licence. This should say that anyone who buys a copy of your game must refrain from duplicating it and selling counterfeit copies. This protects the developer from losing money they would otherwise make from selling it to gamers worldwide. You must register your game with the Copyright Office.

If you encounter any issues with people copying your game and selling it illegally, look at the terms of your licence. Then, see if you are able to take legal action against those who are counterfeiting your game. If so, you may need to seek advice from experts in dispute resolution. Going down this route is also useful if your idea is stolen by another developer.

Contracts and Policies

Game developers should have contracts with retailers and platform owners for a variety of reasons. They help to spell out what you, as the developer, are entitled to. They also act as proof of your entitlement to any money made from the game in case you get a raw deal from the distributor. Legal advice is useful for drawing up contracts of any kind.

Finally, there are all sorts of policies you need in place for the finished game. Terms and Conditions, data protection, privacy policies and cookie policies need to be drawn up and me made visible to all players. In the European Union, all developers need to be compliant with cookie law, giving player the option to consent the use of cookies on their device.

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