It seems like Niantic did just that. If someone were to create their own game(Pokemon, hypothetically), how would they, if at all possible, sell that game to Nintendo or at least make a royalties deal? Or any other game, for that matter?


closed as primarily opinion-based by Alexandre Vaillancourt, Gnemlock, Maximus Minimus, Philipp, Tyyppi_77 Aug 23 '17 at 10:42

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Nintendo doesn't own the Pokemon IP. You're thinking of the Pokemon Company which I believe makes all those decisions. \$\endgroup\$ – Sirisian Aug 23 '17 at 1:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ Possible duplicate of Licensing (or similar) for my fan-game? \$\endgroup\$ – Philipp Aug 23 '17 at 8:08

With regard to other people's IP (intellectual property), it's almost always a "don't call us, we'll call you" situation.

Most companies like to keep their IP in-house, or hand-pick the studios they might be interested in contracting with. When these deals do happen, it's usually not so much a matter of "you make your game and then offer us a royalty for using our IP" as "you will work in cooperation with us to develop a game according to our direction and approval. We'll pay your development costs on a milestone basis, and offer you a cut of the sales once we recoup those costs" (like a traditional publishing arrangement, or sub-contract, depending on the degree of creative freedom involved)

So, these deals can be quite involved to negotiate and see through. Moreover, you never know when a company whose IP you want to work with already has other plans for it - like a game already in development but unannounced, a deliberate pause in the release schedule to avoid brand fatigue, or negotiations in progress with another studio. So if you're making the first move, there's a risk you might sink time and energy into developing a compelling pitch when the answer was always going to be "no" before you even got a meeting.

(I say this as someone who once lost days developing some pretty sweet claymation shaders when, due to a miscommunication, we briefly thought our studio had a shot at a contract for a Clayfighter game) ;)

The one exception is when you have some demonstrated expertise that would give you something unique and compelling to offer the IP holder, something you can do for them that's outside of their experience - as arguably Niantic brought to the table with their mobile, location-based gaming know-how (and geomapping data) from Ingress.

If all you have is good game design or skilled artists/developers/musicians, that's great, but so do many other development studios around the world, so it's unlikely to stand out enough for a successful company to want to risk their IP on you.

Better to take work for hire contracts, where companies are actively soliciting developers to work with their IP, or develop your own games with your own original IP. Along the way, you might develop a high enough profile that IP holders will come to you for your skills, and even if not, you're still selling games. :)


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