Game Development Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional and independent game developers. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

(I know this site doesn't give legal advice, but what I'm dealing here with isn't anything serious at all. Also, I apologize to JP for being annoying over this.)

Someone found a game I made on the Internet, and expressed interest in buying it. We agreed upon a price, and, in the meantime, I removed the game's source from the Internet, just to be sure.

Now, I'm wondering what to do next.

These are the terms:

  • He gets the game's source code, and only that, without the graphics (which weren't made by me).
  • He gets the right to develop and sell the game.
  • I get to keep the ownership of the original game, meaning that I can use it in my portfolio when applying for jobs, for example.
  • The game gets to stay on its original site.

But I am not sure how can I legally realize this. Which license can I use?

share|improve this question
You basically need to copyright the software and then sell the copyrights for the software(not the assets) to the person interested in buying your game. – zehelvion Oct 6 '12 at 20:52
But when I sell the copyright, do I still legally own the game? Also, which license should I use to copyright it? Because if I used MIT, it would be illegal to charge for it! – jcora Oct 6 '12 at 20:55
The type of license depends on the buyer and what he intends to do with the software later on. I think the license is not part of the actual copyright, the license describes what other people are allowed to do with the software. The copyright is a legal concept that gives the creator or the buyer in this case exclusive rights. The copyrights grant you the right to determine the license. – zehelvion Oct 6 '12 at 21:04
@Bane You can sell MIT licensed code (I'm not sure if you have to do some virtual one character change, but probably not). Keep in mind a license is limiting a product user (the one who buys) not maker (the one who sells) – Markus von Broady Oct 6 '12 at 21:05
You can still own your game if it is agreed in the contract that you'll have license to distribute your game and he has copyrights over the software. – zehelvion Oct 6 '12 at 21:22
up vote 4 down vote accepted

It does not matter which license is used. What you pass to the buyer is the copyrights. He can then choose any license.

When you make the agreement, note that you are transferring copyrights over the engine(code) and not the game assets. Also note, that you retain license over the game in it's original form, to distribute it and showcase it for any purpose without infringing on the copyrights of the game's engine(code). You will keep the code secure to protect the interests of the buyer in this contract.

So to keep things short and sweet:

Make a contract that states the following:

  1. The buyer receives full copyrights on the game engine(code) and receives no rights over the game assets.
  2. The seller retains the license to distribute the game in it's original form without modifying and/or reselling the engine(code).

This is no replacement for legal advice. In this case where you choose to avoid professional legal advice it may suffice to draft a contract like this yourself. That is your responsibility.

share|improve this answer
Check this out:… if your country's not there, then you're not obliged to register copyrights. – Markus von Broady Oct 6 '12 at 21:07
Since there is not a lot of money involved, I suppose you could draft a contract that states you are passing the copyrights in return for said payment and you retain copyrights on your game in it's current form. The wording may vary, I would not worry about it too much if the amounts of money involved in this deal are not sufficient to warrant hiring a lawyer than it would be based on something more valuable, honour between you two. Most legal battles are won by spending large sums of money. So as long as both of you are protected from other parties by copyrights it does not matter much. – zehelvion Oct 6 '12 at 21:30
I mean it does not matter if the purchase agreement will hold in court cause it is very unlikely it will get there. – zehelvion Oct 6 '12 at 21:31
@Bane "Copyright is itself an automatic international right, governed by international conventions". Yes, you are correct – zehelvion Oct 6 '12 at 21:33
Let's not go too far, Arthur :) I think as not big money are involved, you're just fine with a gentleman agreement. You have copyrights, Bane. Your client sends you money, you send him source codes. You exchange e-mails and that's some evidence as well. I believe that's enough in this case. – Markus von Broady Oct 6 '12 at 21:48

what you're looking at is a standard Game Distribution Agreement. The buyer gets to modify properties of your game and commercialize them, but you maintain all intellectual property rights (covering the game's original source code and assets ).

Just like any other agreement, make sure you're signing it with someone who has reputation. Avoid at all costs people you don't previously know, or do not belong to a certain gaming community. A buyer who is a legitimate game company would be ideal, because they'll understand the distribution agreement.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.