Basically, I was thinking about a game based on a TV show, just for fun, and ended up thinking "well, it's not like it can be made anyway". Or can it?

In the present situation, developing a game by myself/ourselves on my/our free time, and then using crowdfunding to purchase the rights is not that crazy, if the show is really popular... and the rights not too expensive.

Purchasing the rights of the whole show is obiously a sh!tload of money, but what about adaptation rights? What is the range of price it can be? Is it a percentage of the full rights? Does it depend on the kind of adaptation (novel vs. toy vs. game)?

ps: if it can help answer, I was thinking about a MLPFIM retro RPG. Please don't laugh at me.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not entirely sure this is the best place to get an answer to this question. \$\endgroup\$
    – user1430
    Apr 13, 2012 at 22:34
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ First you gotta kill a few people. - Riddick \$\endgroup\$ Apr 13, 2012 at 23:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ask Reddit to fund it. You won't have any issues. \$\endgroup\$
    – House
    Apr 14, 2012 at 0:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm actually quite certain that this isn't the best place to get an answer. Though I would say that this is probably the best answer: if you have to ask, you can't afford it. Also, if you could afford it, you could also afford the lawyer you'll need to draw up a contract, who will also tell you how to go about doing it and probably guesstimate how much it might cost. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 14, 2012 at 1:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not downvoting because it's actually true that now crowdfunding actually make this "not impossible". Still it's not really feasible for the reasons explained in the answers; furthermore I think it would be a huge waste of funds spending them in a license instead of spending them on actually doing stuff. \$\endgroup\$
    – o0'.
    Apr 14, 2012 at 13:17

2 Answers 2


The video game rights to the My Little Pony franchise appear to currently be owned by Hasbro.

While Hasbro does not appear to have an internal game development studio, Hasbro does have strong relationships with both EA and Activision, with core-audience games ("Transformers") typically being developed by Activision-owned studios, and casual games ("Monopoly") typically being developed by EA-owned studios.

So it seems to me that you're asking the wrong question. Acquiring the rights to make a game based on someone else's license isn't chiefly about money (although money is still a factor). It's chiefly about the license-holder trusting someone else to work with the license in order to bring it to a new marketplace or a new audience, without harming the existing value of the license. If Hasbro feels that (for example) a video game fighting game starring the cast of MLP would bring the license into disrepute, they won't sell a license to do that, regardless of the amount of money offered.


The question you should really be asking is this: what do you bring to the table that would make Hasbro want to sell you the rights to make a game based on their license, rather than selling those rights to EA? Or to Activision? Both of whom they already know and are (as far as I know) happy to continue doing business with.


Basically, you have your lawyers call their lawyers.

Licensing a TV show or film usually goes through the production company — you can find that on imdb for movies. So, for example, to license Stargate Universe you would call up Rob Cooper at Syfy, or more likely you'd go through their original programming department at 100 Universal City Plaza. Licensing a book generally goes through the author's agent, or the publisher, depending on who owns the rights.

This seems like a simple transaction, but there are many important details:

It's expensive. Really expensive. The cost varies with the popularity of the product license, whether you're getting exclusive or nonexclusive rights, whether you'll end up owning the game yourself or you're doing the work or hire, the personality of the executive producer involved, etc. Usually it is an up front cash licensing fee and then some percentage of revenue. The cost can range from several hundred thousand dollars for a Nintendo DS port of a minor childrens' animated series, to many millions for primetime brands.

A failed game can harm the parent brand. So, most production companies need to be confident that the licensing studio can make a successful product, on budget, without missing milestones. Typically that means you need to be an established studio, or a well-funded one, or have some kind of relationship with the rightsolder where you're doing it as work-for-hire, or they own equity in you, or something like that.

Hollywood is a cliquish business; deals are made through networks of relationship and trust. This is why you need an experienced IP lawyer or agent to land licensing deals: you need someone who knows exactly who to reach, how to call them, and how to broker a deal with all the people who need to be involved. That's what's meant by "I'll have my people call your people."

So basically, to license a TV show, you need:

  1. To convince the production company that your studio will make a good game that helps the brand, on schedule, on time, without needing more money from them. That means either being an established business, or having all of your own funding lined up first, or doing the work for hire.
  2. Someone who knows a guy who knows a guy inside the company that can broker the deal between you.
  3. Lots of lawyers.

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