By: Derek Yu

On: March 3rd, 2009


The website of the 2BeeGames competition takes a slight dig at the IGF by saying “unlike some events where every judge plays only a few games, our judges will play each and every game to determine the finalists (up to 10).” However, developers that are interested in the compo should be more mindful of this part of the official rules:

5. Ownership/Use of Entries: Entrants retain ownership of the Games they submit, however, by entering you, on behalf of yourself and any Third Party Creators, grant Contest Entities the perpetual, fully-paid, irrevocable, non-exclusive license to reproduce, prepare derivate [sic] works of (including modification to allow game play on different platforms), distribute, display, exhibit, transmit, broadcast, televise, digitize, otherwise use, and permit others to use and perform throughout the world the Games in any manner, form, or format now or hereinafter created, including on the internet, and for any purpose, including, but not limited to, advertising or promotion of Contest Entities and Contest Entities’ goods and/or services, all without further consent from or payment to you, Third Party Creators or any other third parties.

It goes on to say that the “Contest Entities” do not waive any “rights to use similar or related ideas without any restriction whatsoever.” In other words, if you enter the competition (just enter, not necessarily win), you are giving the casual games publisher Zoo Games a license to not only market and sell your game all over the world, but also make knock-off games using your ideas.

Classy stuff!

(Thanks to the various folks that pointed this out.)

  • John T

    That’s right falsion – you simpleton – america’s got talent

    NBC I posted the url but it was flagged – google it and you’ll be there in two seconds

    not american idol which is what you’re thinking

    I’m not tony and I’m not responding to this shit anymore. I just read about the contest and am researching as much as I can before entering.

    You don’t have an answer…you’re just bitching to bitch. Why don’t you answer my questions though for other people who read this?


  • Derek

    Tony is implying that they would not steal anyone’s ideas, but the language in the original contract clearly gives them the license to do so, if they wanted. There are some phrases in there like “for any purpose” and “without restriction” that are red flags.

    That’s all. Maybe they wouldn’t (at this point I wouldn’t suggest it), but I don’t know anything about Tony or Zoo Games. It’s some random competition on the internet, and you’re agreeing to certain terms when you enter. Just be careful. :)

  • http:// Tony

    Sorry, didn’t mean to start a flame war guys. I just wanted to clarify our position and find out any other issues people may be having.

    Adam and i aren’t stodgy old videogame veterans only looking at the bottom line.
    In fact we’re pretty new to the industry. We’re a couple of 20 somethings that thought why hasn’t this been done before and figured it was an idea the community could get behind. I honestly don’t think many companies would support the whole indie games idea.

    Our goal is to build a community of developers and gamers who wanted to see these refreshing games on consoles other than PC.

    Thanks for giving us a chance John. Feel free to email us if you have any questions.

  • Tony

    How come all of my posts are being moderated while others are not? I wanted a chance to reply and ask for feedback.

  • Jeff Lindsay

    Okay, I’m no legal expert, but I’ve seen this sort of thing before and had to deal with it in terms for DevjaVu. I know it looks bad, but it’s likely a case of using boilerplate terms that default to cover their asses as much as possible.

    **If you give them content that they will then display publicly, they need certain rights to do this and the legal terms will sound very scary.** For example, you’ll find something like this in terms for almost **every** online service you’re using that you post content to:

    “By submitting Content to Company for inclusion on your Website, you grant Company a world-wide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, modify, adapt and publish the Content”

    This is *usually* limited to some purpose, but if these guys are lazy, in a hurry, or just not diligent in regards to legal crap, the lawyers are going to default to “for any purpose” because if they don’t know what purposes, they need to err on the side of inclusive or they’re setting their client up for trouble.

    Anyway, don’t give them such a hard time. Legalese is more than what it says in the words, it’s why it says them.

  • Tony

    Well it appears my comments weren’t coming through due to a mistake in the blog field.

    Anyways, I didn’t mean to start a flame war or anything here. I just wanted to know if there were any other points that are scary at the moment that we can try to work on.

    I’m a little disappointed Derek, I contacted you a while back about possibly signing Aquaria but never received a response. We have not tried to “steal” your idea have we?
    I understand you have to inform your readers but you could have reached out to us for our side of the story before skewering us.

    Adam and I (founders of 2BeeGames) are not stodgy old videogame veterans looking to steal from indies. In fact, we’re relatively new to the industry and thought, hey how come this hasn’t been done before?
    We thought it was a cool idea that the indies could get behind. A community of developers and gamers to determine the next big thing. We thought we could introduce some fresh new games while giving the developers more avenues to success.
    Success that would be shared as we do not have license to do anything with the game until we reach a mutually agreeable deal. We would work closely with the developer to enhance the game while keeping the original feel.

    Thanks for giving us a chance John. We have received some decent entries so far so maybe some developers aren’t as jaded. Perhaps we just need to build up a level of trust as we are new to the scene. Maybe more tweaking needs to be done.
    We are always open for discussion and hopefully we can work on changing some of your minds.

    -Tony (2BeeGames)

  • Derek

    Sorry Tony, your and John’s posts got caught in the spam filter. I’ve released them.

    Anyway, I didn’t mean to contribute to making your day hard – I’m honestly just trying to look out for the developers, who have the great ideas and put in the hard work, and don’t deserve to be dicked around. Understandably, you have to cover your ass from frivolous lawsuits, but the contract should provide protection for the competition entrants, too. From what I could tell, the first draft of your official rules did not provide enough.

    So yes, you’re arguing your intentions, but I’m talking about the legal language in your original contract. The fact that you didn’t steal Aquaria from Bit Blot after we didn’t respond to your email doesn’t prove to me that Zoo Games wouldn’t exercise their rights to ideas that have been relinquished to them by unknowing entrants.

    “I honestly don’t think many companies would support the whole indie games idea.”

    A lot of companies are supportive of the indie games idea, including some of the biggest ones, like Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony, Valve, etc. It’s actually the smallish, more casual publishers, like Zoo Games, that I’m most wary of, because they have more to gain from screwing around and less accountability for it.

  • Derek

    Okay, I’ve shown the _original_ rule #5 to a practicing lawyer. He told me that the rule says what it says – that by entering the competition you give 2BeeGames and Zoo Games non-exclusive rights to do essentially whatever they wanted with your game. It says “perpetual” and it says “for any purpose” and legally, they can do so. He says that it’s an extremely broad statement. The fact that you retain ownership of your game will not prevent _them_ from potentially doing whatever they like with it, _including_ selling the exact same rights to another party (hadn’t thought of that).

    NOW, again, this speaks nothing of intent, or whether this kind of thing is standard in the games industry (in which case, maybe the standard should change in favor of the developers)… it’s about who has what rights after you enter the compo. Rule #5 is _really, really_ broad and gives them a lot of rights. After reading it, you can only trust that they won’t exercise those rights.

    “This is usually limited to some purpose, but if these guys are lazy, in a hurry, or just not diligent in regards to legal crap, the lawyers are going to default to ‘for any purpose’ because if they don’t know what purposes, they need to err on the side of inclusive or they’re setting their client up for trouble.”

    That is probably the case here, but that wouldn’t really make me feel any better about entering the contest and possibly working deals with these guys (who by that point could do the deal without your involvement). It’s also pretty easy to at least state what purposes you WON’T be needing, like selling the games without permission. Tony is saying “No no, we’re only going to use it for this and that,” which should be made explicit in the contract. And maybe it is explicit now, but it wasn’t before…

    For future reference, you may not even care about who has what rights when you first enter a competition, but you may care later when you realize what a great idea you came up with.

  • Eclipse

    I was thinking about joining the contest but that rule #5 really raises an eyebrow…
    Tony, how about changing it throwing off “for any purpose” or modifying it to “for the only purpose to publish the submitted material to the 2bee contest site”?

  • John T

    Yes tony clarify it. I personally think this is a cool concept but it has to be fair for everyone.

    I also don’t get down on zoo games (who I never heard of until now). Maybe they do publish junk but perhaps this is a first step for them to look for better content.

    Yes I know, bc I’m not scathing critical I’m actually a shill (tony) having a dialogue in my head but that’s ok – I’ll just go load up on my psych drugs.

  • jph

    The publishers of a vast catalog of games that ALL have some corporate advert built in at the title level want to SUPPORT indie games? Have they teamed up with a Nigerian Prince with millions of dollars who misplaced his ATM card and desperately needs my help??

    If you have the next ‘great game’ then you don’t need to enter ANY contest, build the game, and it will sell itself,. these guys give themselves away, as most people do, with their own words,. from the about page “Maybe you win, maybe not. Maybe you just get new ideas,” ah, “new ideas” for these guys to turn into the next corporate licensed crap for the wii that your kids will beg you for any you will know is utter putrid adware, flogging some licensed cartoon characters and perpetuating the corporate death culture., If they wanted to make games for the sake of games they would, and if they want to build ads loosely clothed as games for the money, then that is what they do. Personably I would not want to be associated at all, let alone published by such corporate noise,.

  • Jeff Lindsay

    I think this was blown a bit out of proportion, though I can understand from how passionate we all are.

    I had a similar case in terms of service for DevjaVu, and a guy simply pointed out that the terms were not limited enough in usage of uploaded content. And this is a code hosting site! I simply updated the terms. He was not upset, just stated he wouldn’t join with those terms and they look too generic.

    That said, intent can go a long way, but it’s definitely smart for everybody to cover their asses. Even if they do have good intent, but they’re terms give them rights they could abuse… if they fall into financial trouble and get desperate, who knows what could happen.

    Also, just because they’re corporate sellouts doesn’t mean they are. Errm, I mean to say some have better integrity than others, but it is a pretty difficult world in business. Even Flashbang has an affiliate based casual site and does corporate gigs to pay the bills. Look at all the good they do!

    So, yes they need to work on their terms, but help them out, don’t cut them down. Indie love?

  • torncanvas

    If intentions were all you needed, then no one would ever need contracts. Therefore, the contract is there to express the intentions in writing. That’s the point of a contract.

    It doesn’t matter to developers what you say your intentions are in some comment or even on your own blog. What really matters is how those intentions are expressed in writing.

    Parties who enter into a business relationship simply need to express their intentions in writing, in the contract.

    Just as an update, this issue seems to be mostly resolved. The only notable thing you’re handing over is rights for them to distribute the game (and modify it for use on “our websites”) through any platform.

    So as long as entrants are ok with this statement: “It is our intention to pay you $10k in exchange for full rights to distribute the game through the internet, on any consoles, and on any handhelds.” then they should enter.

    IMO, that’s not a bad deal if you just make a game over the weekend or in your spare time for a week or two. You could get some good exposure for not much investment on your part.

  • Tony

    Torncanvas (and other commenters), you’re absolutely correct on the language of the contract being a bit harsh.

    We do not want to give 10k and have the full rights to the game on every platform. The quality of the games submitted would probably be lower if we did that.

    We are working with the legal guys to fix the wording.
    Stay tuned for updates soon.

  • falsion

    Hey, it’s good to see that you’re actually listening. Maybe I had the wrong idea about you guys. You really pissed me off the first time I read this, at just how underhanded and low the language in the legalese seemed. but I guess you’re not all that bad.

    If you can not only “fix the wording” but stick to it and actually follow up on your word and NOT screw people as the former draft of your TOS indicated, then you might actually have my respect now.

  • falsion

    But don’t get me wrong, I’m still going to avoid this compo like nobody’s business. Nothing personal or anything.

    Maybe next time, try to pay attention to what exactly your lawyers are writing and make a good first impression, rather than rubbing people the wrong way like this and then trying to do damage control after the fact.

  • headcrab.

    Those fuckers.

  • Fuzz

    Even if you consider all the legalese irrelevant, the contest seems to go against the whole spirit of indie. I doubt most indie developers want to get a publishing deal with a big company. It seems to go against the whole idea of being indie: “I can do this by myself, I don’t need funding from a fucking huge soulless company”.

  • Srip

    “Making money and/or wanting to do so is against indie rules”

    Sorry, won’t be entering then.

  • Eclipse

    Hi Tony, i’ll really appreciate this move, keep us informed!

    @the others that were not joking: Valve is a big corporation but it hosts a lot of indie games, if you don’t need to follow their rules to have a deal with them and somewhat modify your concept for the market, then you’ll be indie even dealing with EA

  • jph

    Valve also makes GAMES and not ads pretending to be games,. . indie is short for independent i.e. not backed by large corporate banking interests,. it is much wiser to go by what people actually DO, than to judge them by what they say.

  • Melly

    A big problem with legalese in general is how it’s written. It seems designed to confuse the layman as much as possible, with large blocks and walls of text, heavy repetition of words, use of legal terms that were actually INVENTED for legalese, and that aren’t used anywhere else, and often use of latin as their base. And nobody fucking knows latin anymore.

    If legalese in general was written with understanding of the average citizen in mind instead of seeming like it’s meant only for lawyers to understand, people wouldn’t be so scared of them.

    I think lawyers do it on purpose, in fact. Write legalese in a fashion that makes it seem like encrypted code, and the layman will have no choice but to hire a lawyer himself to make sense of it, leading to them getting work easier.

    Then again I might be wrong. Legalese still sucks either way though.

  • torncanvas

    Thanks for the reply Tony. I’m sure you guys weren’t expecting this kind of backlash, and you were likely really busy and might not have had time to really go through the wording with a fine-toothed comb.

    I guess this is an unfortunate lesson to all of us regarding the crazy amount of work and care it takes to throw your own contest. :P

    With that said, I do think it’s important that those of us who’ve gone through some painful legal negotiation before should try to stick up for the little guy. I’m relieved that you are so receptive to it.

  • Tony

    Wanted to update you guys. We have worked to cover the major concerns and have even bumped the prize up ;)

    Thanks for all of the feedback throughout. It really helps to know what the community thinks about our ideas.

    If anyone is going to GDC, feel free to stop by our booth and say hi. We’ll be at the IGS as well. Details to come later. Hope to see your entries soon!

  • Anonymous

    Okay, sorry, I HAVE to do this now..

    All you need is love, all you need is love,
    All you need is love, love, love is all you need.
    All you need is love (all together now)
    All you need is love (everybody)
    All you need is love, love, love is all you need.

  • Tony

    My other comment might be lost in the spam filter but check out the site now. Made some major changes thanks to (some) of the valuable insight ;)

  • Radix

    Melly, I think the point is to explicitly avoid the ambiguities of common English, and what looks like convolutedness is often just an attempt at precision.

    Course, that’s not to say that real bastards never exploit the lack of clarity that necessarily results from this.

  • nitram cero

    I mailed the guys about this issue, and the fact that even if they say “it’s not what we meant” is not enough.
    They quite politely told me that their lawyers were evaluating a way to make it better.

    I wasn’t confortable with the _other_ rules, and I’m not participating because the games can’t make any references to booze, dope, sex, death, etc…
    Even the latest –Disney’s– Pirates of the caribbean make an innuendo about a 10 year old about to be HANGED TO DEATH.

    So that kind of rules just don’t apply to modern times.

    Ok, I think I lost it there XD
    All that was about saying that I’m not tracking the rules to see if they finally changed them or not.


  • Del_Duio

    I’m a little disappointed Derek, I contacted you a while back about possibly signing Aquaria but never received a response

    Good thing too. Derek & Alec got to put all their sales money where it belongs: In their pockets and not some scam artists with the greatest intentions not specifically worded.