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Thread: Thieving Employers?

  1. #1
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    Thieving Employers?

    I've been thinking about this scenario.
    You get in contact with a potential employer. You're asked to present concepts and ideas for, let's say a video game.
    You make your pitch. A few days later you get a call informing you that you're not needed, or something along these lines.

    A year later the game is released. On the promotional material something catches your eye.
    What's this? It's the very same concept you presented at your pitch!

    Am I just paranoid or do these things actually happen? What can you do in such an event?

    Please discuss.
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    Too bad you can't copyright idea, isn't it?

    Before you work on the "specific" concepts sketch and ideas for the potential employer, did they pay you for doing that? Like provide you at least a work for hire contract and payment for the concept sketch for what they "specific" looking for?

    Make sure at least get pay for drawing out the specific concept idea.
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    Have it Copywritten. You cant copyright ideas that are not recorded. Duh. That would be very unprofessional on your behalf.

    Found this. Hope it puts your paranoia to rest.
    http://www.ehow.com/how_18267_copyri....html?ref=fuel
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    Quote Originally Posted by Micaiah Nelson View Post
    Have it Copywritten. You cant copyright ideas that are not recorded. Duh. That would be very unprofessional on your behalf.
    Um. International Copyright Laws state that once you create something, it is copyrighted to you. Now, proving creation before somebody walked off with it is another matter so it's always good to send it off to the feds. But still, that doesn't mean it magically isn't yours 'cause you haven't paid a fee for it yet.

    Hunter Killer_: There's a couple of things I would do in that employeer situation.
    #1 Watermark
    #2 Send in any works in a neat little pdf or similar setup wherein the viewer has to go through Page One and it's legal jargonese: Viewing of this file consitutes argeement to these terms wherein Artist owns rights to work, work cannot be disclosed to other parties, blahblah--you get the idea.
    #3 Do work similar to what the employer is looking for, but not their exact specifications. I've done that a couple of times, actually. You want a sample that I can do a cutesy girlie style comic and here's your script? Okay, I'll do that style...in my own story.
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  6. #5
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    I'd be very surprised if that ever happens with a legit company of any size. It's just not worth the hassle to deal with and it's much easier to just pay the artist. Of course it never hurts to protect yourself. People can see samples of your work, and you might do a few rough sketches before sealing a new job (and always make sure your contact info is on everything you send so they don't accidentally forget where a particular image came from), but don't do anything more than that without a contract.

    Of course, there isn't much you can do about similar ideas. If you pitch a crab walker tank, and they end up using a crab walker tank of another design, that's just how it goes.
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    Pretty much all video game studios refuse to even let people pitch ideas to them because in case they make a similar idea, they dont want to get sued.

    People who pitch ideas, pitch their ideas to publishers, in order to secure funding for their studio. Publishers do not produce games directly, and they certainly aren't going to go hire a studio to create an idea they just heard about from someone else. Simply doesnt happen. Ideas practically always come from within studios.

    Your scenario wouldn't happen.
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  9. #7
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    Sadly, this happens alot. My only experience is from talking with some guys that did business with marketing companies. In their experience about 2/3 of their pitches gets ripped off. The only advice they had was to not give your pitch material, unless you feel that the investment is worth it and could land you the project.

    Also you can say alot about sueing after something like this happenend. But what kind of impact would that have on your future clients?

    Publishers do not produce games directly, and they certainly aren't going to go hire a studio to create an idea they just heard about from someone else. Simply doesnt happen. Ideas practically always come from within studios.
    I'm sorry, but no. The majority of the game industry (serious gaming) simply does this, and in the entertainment sector of the business their are enough stories about this. Even in my own experience I made a game proposal, that was succesfully pitched, and then given to another studio that was attached to the publisher.

    Just as an example to show you how publishers take ideas from one place, and let a studio under their care make the game. Check out Nintendogs and what happpend there. It was released and shortly after that there was Dogz, Catz, Tigerz, Dolphin Island, baby care stuff, Horsez, etc.

    If you are a small studio and a publisher comes around and says "make me a game as nintendogs but then different" most small studios will do it because it means income.
    Last edited by Duq; March 23rd, 2008 at 07:17 AM.
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  11. #8
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    But then Nintendogs was inspired in part by Creatures and Tamagotchis and their descendants. There has been casual babysitting games on pc for ages too. Very few games are trully original. And it's possible to have similar ideas at the same time independently when you get inspred by the same body of work (aka the Newton vs Leibniz syndrome)
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    Nintendogz is a bad example, but Duq is right, this happens quite a lot.

    Its often the reason for similar movies coming out at the same time. So a marketing group pitches a volcano movie idea to a couple companies. One might buy it and start making it, while another might just make a just different enough volcano movie.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Duq View Post
    Just as an example to show you how publishers take ideas from one place, and let a studio under their care make the game. Check out Nintendogs and what happpend there. It was released and shortly after that there was Dogz, Catz, Tigerz, Dolphin Island, baby care stuff, Horsez, etc.

    If you are a small studio and a publisher comes around and says "make me a game as nintendogs but then different" most small studios will do it because it means income.
    Besides the fact that Dogz and Catz came out a full ten years before Nintendogs, that example isn't what HunterKiller was talking about. Copying a popular formula isn't the same as stealing actual concepts from a pitch. The company I work at pitches a shitload of games, but I've never heard of an actual concrete example of a pitch being stolen.


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  14. #11
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    I had a long reply for Duq, but I decided a summary would be best. Marketing is very different. Rightful lawsuits are not looked upon poorly. Your stories are not a credible source and I dont believe your story about someone stealing your pitch and making it. More likely is that your idea was fairly generic and another studio working on a similar idea just happened to have the same publisher that you pitched to.
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  15. #12
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    Point #1: ideas ain't worth crap
    Point #2: if you're good enough to rip off, you're good enough to hire.

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  17. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by aesir View Post
    I had a long reply for Duq, but I decided a summary would be best. Marketing is very different. Rightful lawsuits are not looked upon poorly. Your stories are not a credible source and I dont believe your story about someone stealing your pitch and making it. More likely is that your idea was fairly generic and another studio working on a similar idea just happened to have the same publisher that you pitched to.
    I never said it was stolen. I worked on a concept, was pitched, concept given to a studio with more experience. That was the feedback we got from our publisher. Ofcourse there was some payment, and we got another project about an excisting IP developed by another studio attached to the same company. I'm sorry that you dont believe it, but in small studios that are linked to one agent/publisher this just happens at times. I'm not talking about stealing here, just saying that your idea about how ideas are only made in gamedesign studios is wrong. I even know some freelance gamedesigners who make their money from creating gamedesigns concepts and selling them to studio's.

    About the guys that worked with the marketing companies, they where a serious gaming company. They would be asked to create a concept for a certain marketing campaign, the would go and pitch it, leave the pitch material for internal review, and then find out later that a known competitive studio with lower prices would be making the exact concept. This didnt happen just a few times, but alot.

    About the lawsuits. Do you think that specific company might ever work with you again? Do you think they might suggest associates to ever work with you? Lawsuits are long, and painfull especially considering this stuff. About the guys in the paragraph, they didnt go for a lawsuit for that exact reason, any work they lost to that marketing company they got returned from redirects from the same marketing company. They simply called it networking investments. Getting invited to one party could often hold more money from new clients then they would get from a lawsuit for example.

    Serious gaming (marketing games included) might be different then what CA is focussed on. But the last stats I saw showed that it was a bigger workingfield then entertainment games in this country. And since marketing companies are some of the best paying clients in the serious gaming field, you deal with them alot. Even MB has marketing work in their portfolio

    In the end these are just my experiences, and you can take them as you like. But stating that someone will never encounter these scenario's is simply being ignorant.

    Besides the fact that Dogz and Catz came out a full ten years before Nintendogs, that example isn't what HunterKiller was talking about. Copying a popular formula isn't the same as stealing actual concepts from a pitch. The company I work at pitches a shitload of games, but I've never heard of an actual concrete example of a pitch being stolen.
    The Dogz thing was more towards Aesirs comment that studio's practically always develop original ideas in house, not about entirely new ideas ending with someone else. It could also have been God of War and Heavenly Sword for example.

    And yeah it doesnt really apply to Hunterkiller. Also I will be honest, I have never heard of an entertainment game being pitched, and then being stolen by the publisher.
    Last edited by Duq; March 23rd, 2008 at 06:01 PM.
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