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If I, for example, wanted to make a Spongebob game and was not asked to to do so by the company that owns the character, what would I have to do in order to get the rights to make the game?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Contact the license owner? \$\endgroup\$
    – Vaillancourt
    Apr 8 '20 at 3:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ But then what? It's not like I can call them, ask for the rights and they will just say yes. What do I need to do to convince them? \$\endgroup\$
    – user138487
    Apr 8 '20 at 3:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ Create a prototype showcasing the idea, then "apply" for a license by submitting it to the IP owner. However, If think about creating your own IP. This would save you tons of trouble and it's certainly possible, if your idea and game are good enough. Currently popular example: Temtem. It's a Pokemon game without needing the popular license. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mario
    Apr 8 '20 at 5:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ You will probably also need a large amount of money to give them. And a contract that outlines what you can and can't do with their IP. And a lawyer to deal with their lawyers. And a proven track record that demonstrates you'll be successful. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 8 '20 at 6:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ Do I need to make a contract that outlines what can and can't be done with their IP or do I get one from them? \$\endgroup\$
    – user138487
    Apr 8 '20 at 19:43
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Most often, you don't.

Game licensing is often a "don't call us, we'll call you" sort of affair.

If the owner of the intellectual property hasn't already decided they want a new game made with it, and started seeking out developers to do so, they're unlikely to be moved to do so by a random request out of left field.

You don't know the company's internal plans. They might be deliberately taking a break from games using the IP to avoid franchise fatigue. They might be targeting different regions, audiences, or platforms than you have in mind. They might already have another studio working on a game that's currently unannounced. They might have already signed an exclusivity deal for the video game rights that won't free up in the near future, even if no games are currently being made. So unless they come to you first, you have no evidence that a deal is even in the realm of possibility.

You're even less likely to secure such a deal if you're an unknown developer without a proven track record of high-quality, top-selling games to give them confidence you're a sound investment to make with their IP.

So, the best thing you can do is make your own original games, or work-for-hire contracts responding to IP owners who publish a request for proposals or contact you directly.

Once you have an established portfolio of high-quality work in a similar area, you have a much better chance of being contacted to work on the kinds of games you're interested in, or getting past the front door if you want to go out on a limb and pitch a game no one asked you for.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ You have a point. I certainly would want to have some experience and a proven track record first before attempting to get the rights. My worry is that I will not be able to properly let go and do something original, which would require some coping strategies to help make that process of letting go easier. \$\endgroup\$
    – user138487
    Apr 20 '20 at 18:52

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