24 Hour Fitness prepares for potential bankruptcy

first_imgShare on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlink Share via Shortlink TagsbankruptcyCoronavirusGymscenter_img 24 Hour Fitness is preparing for a possible bankruptcy filing even as it begins reopening locations. (Getty)Gym operator 24 Hour Fitness Worldwide planning for a potential bankruptcy even has it begins reopening its locations.The fitness company, which has more than 430 mid-tier gyms, has been talking with investors about the terms of a loan that would keep the company afloat during a court restructuring process, according to Bloomberg. The possible Chapter 11 filing would cut the company’s borrowings by exchanging debt for equity and putting lenders in control. Investment bankers at Lazard and attorneys at Weil, Gotshal & Manges are advising 24 Hour Fitness on the process.The company was struggling to hold onto customers even before the pandemic, with many flocking to gyms that were either more upscale or more affordable. It reported a 2 percent decline in revenue in its unaudited fourth-quarter earnings report, and membership dropped from 3.5 million to 3.4 million from the second to third quarter last year.The fitness and health club industry could shrink from an $85 billion industry to a $45 billion industry this year amid mandated closures due to the pandemic, according to estimates from WinterGreen Research . About 45 percent of states have started letting clubs at least partially reopen, but this is not the case in some of the most populous states like New York and California. Clubs have so far reported around 30 to 50 percent of members returning.New York Sports Club is also considering a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in the wake of its failed FlyWheel deal.24 Hour Fitness has implemented new health and safety measures including a touch-free check-in service and 30-minute closures for cleanings throughout the day. [Bloomberg]  — Eddie Smalllast_img read more

Kennedy family’s former “Winter White House” sells for $70M

first_imgJohn F. Kennedy and 1095 North Ocean Boulevard (Credit: Bachrach/Getty Images and Google Maps)The Kennedy family’s former Palm Beach compound, where President John F. Kennedy worked on his 1961 inaugural address, sold for $70 million.Jane Goldman, a prominent New York City landlord, sold the 11,334-square-foot oceanfront estate at 1095 North Ocean Boulevard to a trust managed by West Palm Beach attorney Maura Ziska, property records show.The late Joseph P. Kennedy Sr., a former U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom and father of John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy and Ted Kennedy, purchased the estate in 1933. The Kennedy family used the property as a winter vacation home.Goldman, who runs Solil Management, bought the property from John Castle for $31 million in 2015. Castle purchased the estate from the Kennedys in 1995 for $4.92 million, records show.Goldman completed an extensive renovation of the Mediterranean-style estate, hiring design firm Pembrooke & Ives to renovate the interiors, according to Architectural Digest. The property, built in 1925 and designed by famed architect Addison Mizner, includes three buildings with seven bedrooms and 11.5 bathrooms on more than an acre of land. It also features a tennis court and pool.Goldman is the youngest daughter of Sol Goldman, who at one time was one of New York’s biggest landlords, according to Forbes, which pegs her net worth at $3.1 billion.She sold the Palm Beach estate for nearly $6,200 per square foot.The closing marks the largest residential sale in Palm Beach since last year, when two estates traded for more than $100 million each. Share via Shortlink Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlinklast_img read more

NYC zoos, aquarium plan to reopen this month

first_imgShare on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlink (Getty)New York City’s zoos and aquarium are planning to open later this month, along with museums and movie theaters.While the definitive reopening of the attractions has not yet been announced, many expect New York City to enter phase 4 on July 20, at the earliest, the New York Times reported. The city entered phase 3 earlier this week.In anticipation of phase 4, the zoos in Central Park, Prospect Park, the Bronx and Queens, and the New York Aquarium in Brooklyn, are planning to open their doors to the public on July 24. Employee and visitor occupancy levels will have to be kept to one-third of normal levels.The five facilities will adopt additional measures to keep visitors safe, including timed ticketing, to keep the numbers of zoo-goers at manageable levels. Some potentially high-risk features will remain closed — like camel rides and the 4D theater — but indoor and outdoor activities alike are expected to resume.Unlike theaters and New York City’s office buildings, the zoos and aquarium were never fully emptied out, even at the height of the shut-down. The permanent residents — the animals — remained, and essential worker employees continued to care for them.When the zoos reopen, healthcare workers will be allowed to attend for free.[NYT] — Georgia Kromrei Share via Shortlinkcenter_img TagsCoronaviruslast_img read more

Rockpoint Group settles alleged rent-stabilization violations for $5M

first_imgKeith Gelb and Bill Walton with 63 and 67 Wall Street (Rockpoint, Google Maps)A Wall Street landlord has settled a lawsuit brought by its tenants over alleged rent-regulation violations.Rockpoint Group, a Boston private equity firm, will pay a $5 million settlement to as many as 4,800 current and former tenants in two Financial District buildings, Crain’s reported.Attorneys representing the tenants at 63 and 67 Wall Street filed a class-action lawsuit in November 2019, alleging that Rockpoint benefited from a state tax program for 14 years while offering market-rate leases. The 421-g program allows landlords to forgo property taxes, but requires them to offer rent-regulated leases.Rockpoint’s two Financial District buildings have a total of 795 units, with rents going from $2,235 per month for a studio to $5,350 for a one-bedroom equipped with a home office.ADVERTISEMENTThe Rockpoint lawsuit followed a string of similar cases that have cropped up in the past 18 months. The lawsuits were filed after New York’s highest court ruled in June 2019 that because landlord Clipper Equity received the 421g tax break at 50 Murray Street, tenants in that building were legally owed rent-stabilized leases and possibly back rent.Rockpoint has been an active investor in New York in recent years, partnering with Brooksville Company to buy Starrett City, the massive 46-building federally subsidized housing complex in East New York. The developers bought the building in 2018 for $905 million.[Crain’s] — Georgia Kromrei Share via Shortlink TagsReal Estate LawsuitsRent Regulationsrockpoint groupcenter_img Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlinklast_img read more

Peace prevails: SL Green, Local 79 settle dispute over protests

first_imgMessage* Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlink Share via Shortlink TagsConstructionCoronavirusSL Green SL Green CEO Marc Holiday and 420 Lexington Avenue with Scabby the Rat (Getty; Google; SL Green)Shrill whistling, verbal shaming and a giant inflatable rat are now a thing of the past at SL Green’s Midtown headquarters.The day before its quarterly earnings call with investors, the developer agreed to a settlement with labor union Local 79, following more than a month of contentious protests which resulted in both state and federal lawsuits.“After a productive meeting today, Local 79 has agreed to cease its protest regarding construction at 126 Nassau,” a joint statement from SL Green and Local 79 said.In exchange, SL Green withdrew its federal lawsuit in which it accused the union of potentially spreading Covid and called its actions “terroristic”.The dispute revolved around one of SL Green’s properties at 15 Beekman Street, where it will build a 215,000-square-foot dormitory for Pace University. The developer hired a non-union demolition company to perform work at the site.Local 79 responded with protests at SL Green’s headquarters at 420 Lexington Avenue, including keeping an inflatable Scabby the Rat outside the building each day since early September, according to the company’s earlier complaint.Earlier on Tuesday, SL Green had filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan to stop the protests, Crain’s reported. But by the end of the day, the parties had agreed to settle the dispute.As for whether additional union labor would now be used over the course of the Financial District project, neither party would comment beyond a prepared statement.“SL Green is a strong supporter of union labor and we appreciate the opportunity to sit down with Local 79 … and the opportunity to strengthen our relationship and work together on future projects,” said Edward V. Piccinich, chief operating officer of SL Green.“We recognize and appreciate the leadership of Marc Holliday and SL Green in driving economic development in New York that creates good jobs during this difficult time for the city,” said Robert Bonanza, business manager of the Mason Tenders District Council, a labor organization that represents Local 79, among other workers.“At times like this we need to work together to keep New York moving,” Bonanza added.Write to Orion Jones Email Address* Full Name*last_img read more

“How do we survive?”: Subway station retailers struggle

first_imgGrand Central Oyster Bar (Getty)Retailers whose shops are located within the New York City subway have returned to one question since the pandemic hit: “How do we survive?”Since March, 77 of the 321 retail businesses that operate underground have permanently closed, the New York Times reported.“We don’t have tourists, people are all working from home. We have nothing,” Jairo Cardenas, whose shoe shine business is within the sprawling Times Square station, told the Times.Restaurants and retails have been struggling during the pandemic, with capacity rules and fears of contracting the virus keeping customers away. For subway retailers, that’s compounded by fewer people using mass transit: Ridership cratered after the pandemic hit in March, and as of early November, it’s still down 70 percent below normal 2019 levels.Read moreFive solutions to save restaurants this winter“25% is a starting point”: Indoor dining returns to NYC todayNYC to allow store owners to sell wares on sidewalks Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlink Share via Shortlink Stores located within subway stations face additional challenges as they can’t take advantage of the de Blasio administration’s recently announced open storefronts initiative, which will allow shop owners to set up tables or kiosks on the sidewalk outside of their stores. Businesses must have outdoor space available to be eligible.Even iconic businesses aren’t immune: At the Grand Central Oyster Bar, diners traveling through Grand Central Terminal once packed the century-old restaurant. But within two weeks of reopening after indoor dining was permitted, foot traffic dwindled, causing the restaurant to shut down.“It’s just not sustainable,” Sandy Ingber, the executive chef and a co-owner, told the Times. “Until we have more foot traffic in Grand Central we just can’t do it.”[NYT] — Sasha Jones TagsCommercial Real EstateCoronavirusMTARetail Real Estatelast_img read more

Small devs need to promote more – SNJV

first_imgSmall devs need to promote more – SNJVFrench trade group says promotion budget for smaller titles should equal production budgetBrendan SinclairManaging EditorTuesday 1st December 2015Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareThe Syndicat National du Jeu Vidéo has released the results of its annual developer survey, providing a snapshot of the 2015 French gaming industry. While the full report details a number of modest changes in the country’s gaming companies over the last year, one of the trade group’s key takeaways from the survey is that developers need to be devoting more resources to promoting the games they make.”Development studios are only allocating 11.8 percent of their production budget to promoting their titles,” the SNJV said in its report. “This varies according to the type of game, the platforms targeted and the marketing culture of the studio. Although the ratio of promotion budget to production budget can be 1:5 for AAA games, it should be at least 1:1 for games needing less investment.”Related JobsSenior Game Designer – UE4 – AAA United Kingdom Amiqus GamesProgrammer – REMOTE – work with industry veterans! North West Amiqus GamesJunior Video Editor – GLOBAL publisher United Kingdom Amiqus GamesDiscover more jobs in games The report acknowledged that many development studios don’t have much money to invest in promotion, and discussed the difficulties they have in finding financing. The problem is further complicated by the rising costs of development, as the survey found the average annual production budget for developers is expected to rise 14 percent year-over-year in 2015, from €1.26 million to an estimated €1.44 million this year. Every major platform saw production budgets expected to rise, with the only exceptions being connected objects and specialized consoles like Vtech learning toys.However, the trade group still believes the average spent on promotion needs to be higher given how many of the studios are self-publishing their games through digital distribution platforms. (Almost 94 percent of responding development studios considered themselves to be independent, and 100 percent worked on digitally distributed games; just under 30 percent worked on games to be sold on physical media as well.)The SNJV survey was conducted from May to July as an online questionnaire sent to directors of various French game companies from the trade group’s ranks and beyond. 146 such directors responded, believed to represent over one-third of the total French gaming industry.Celebrating employer excellence in the video games industry8th July 2021Submit your company Sign up for The Daily Update and get the best of GamesIndustry.biz in your inbox. Enter your email addressMore storiesEA leans on Apex Legends and live services in fourth quarterQ4 and full year revenues close to flat and profits take a tumble, but publisher’s bookings still up double-digitsBy Brendan Sinclair 7 hours agoEA Play Live set for July 22Formerly E3-adjacent event moves to take place a month and half after the ESA’s showBy Jeffrey Rousseau 9 hours agoLatest comments (2)Nick Parker Consultant Edited 1 times. Last edit by Nick Parker on 2nd December 2015 4:56pm 1Sign inorRegisterto rate and replyDarren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend5 years ago Hmmm this 1:1 is a big issue really, marketing nobs will tell you that they are essential to make your product valuable. When in reality it is just an arms race where the marketers are the arms dealers.Visibility is obviously a key component of selling your game, but it is not the be all and end all. You cannot win an arms race against people who have massive budgets and they know this. You have all heard about stories of $10m in advertising being spent every month to keep market domination, well think why that is for a moment.It is not to get new eyes on their product, but to lock everyone else out by essentially paying “protection money” to marketers. They outspend everyone so nobody else can gain traction in the chart/public eye (hence why things look stagnant in the industry sometimes).This is why I love it when games pop out of the blue, no marketing budget apart from time and effort that capture the public’s imagination. Good for them, they deserve everything they get. 5 years ago For some independent developers, there is no money left over for marketing; even if it’s in the budget, any slippage will divert those funds back into the studio costs. Marketing is now becoming crucial as the mobile market (and even consoles and Steam) becomes so crowded. As a rule of thumb, marketing costs in traditional packaged goods are 10% of revenues on media (as there is usually some above the line media), 5% on production so a total 15% of expected revenues on marketing. Digital product will require similar levels, not 11.8% of the production budget (as highlighted in the article) but approaching 11.8% of expected revenues even if, in a digital world, more imaginative, cheeper means of spreading word of mouth are available.center_img Edited 2 times. Last edit by Darren Adams on 3rd December 2015 10:05am 3Sign inorRegisterto rate and replySign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? Register now.last_img read more

“We were actually lucky to be neglected”

first_img“We were actually lucky to be neglected”SCS Software never set out to make niche driving sims, but the American Truck Simulator dev found success there and is now in it for the long haulBrendan SinclairManaging EditorThursday 18th February 2016Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareCompanies in this articleSCS SoftwareSCS Software is the first name in truck driving simulation games. Granted, there may not be many names at all in truck driving simulation games, but SCS is still the one to know. Earlier this month, the Czech developer launched American Truck Simulator (the #1 trending game on SteamSpy as of this writing, trailed by XCOM 2 and Firewatch) to a outpouring of critical appreciation and commercial success that surprised even SCS CEO Pavel Sebor.”It’s way above expectations,” Sebor told GamesIndustry.biz. “We thought we were creating a niche game that sometimes happens to sell well also during Steam sales and special occasions, but getting this kind of acceptance in sales and so many positive reviews, not just random YouTubers but also on serious game industry publications, it’s something to be proud of.””[O]ne of those projects nobody wanted to touch was a truck driving game that would combine tycoon elements with driving elements. We didn’t even know there were such games in the genre before.” American Truck Simulator is just the latest in a long line of truck sims from the studio, dating back to the early 2000’s and the 18 Wheels of Steel series of PC games it developed for THQ’s budget label ValuSoft. It has since developed more than a dozen different sims, including Euro Truck Simulator, Trucks & Trailers, and Scania Truck Driving Simulator. It’s even dabbled in spin-offs like the self-explanatory Bus Driver and TruckSaver, a truck-themed 3D screensaver. Clearly, this company was created by trucking fanatics who had always dreamed of exploring every facet interactive entertainment through the prism of trucks. Or maybe not.”It was a total fluke,” Sebor said. “Well over a decade ago we used to be a tiny company contracting for publishers in the US, and we took any little project that came our way. We did hunting games that honestly we were not so proud of, but it paid the bills. And one of those projects nobody wanted to touch was a truck driving game that would combine tycoon elements with driving elements. We didn’t even know there were such games in the genre before. We just got the paragraph of text of an assignment and a tiny budget, and we had to run with it.”Nine months of development time later, SCS had finished its first 18 Wheels of Steel game. The budget title did well enough to deserve a budget sequel, which itself justified a follow-up, and so on for the next seven or eight years.”For them, it did good enough to want another sequel the next year, but never good enough to realize there was potential in it,” Sebor said. “They were never willing to invest enough into development of the next sequel for it to make a difference, so we were always working on a shoestring budget just to build something that would be different enough from last year… From my point of view, we were actually lucky to be neglected.””Community for us turned out to be a critical factor, but it’s been a lot of work… It takes time and not just empty marketing language, but really caring and showing things under the hood.” While Sebor characterized that era of working with ValuSoft as a sort of school of hard knocks that taught SCS how to survive, it also prepared them for the road ahead. The development team didn’t really know much about trucking for the first few years they were developing the games, but they’ve gone from never having been in a truck to renting specific rigs to record engine noises of the highest authenticity. Along the way, they even developed an appreciation for the subject matter.”It was an acquired taste,” Sebor said. “Initially it was something most of us were doing as a solution for the survival of the company. But as we kept building, we also hired people who are really into it, who are into vehicles, simulation and driving games, who really understand the serious side of the transportation industry.” It wasn’t just trucks the developers were learning about. In the early years, Sebor said the company was essentially riding on the strength of a passionate community of trucking enthusiasts. The diehards who played the earlier, rougher games SCS put out helped support them long enough for the studio to hone its craft, and in recent years, they’ve been the ones who helped spread the Truck Simulator word out to the masses. “Community for us turned out to be a critical factor, but it’s been a lot of work,” Sebor said. “It’s been 10 years communicating initially with thousands. It’s years of blogging, of updating Facebook and now multiple channels. It takes time and not just empty marketing language, but really caring and showing things under the hood. It takes admitting mistakes and fixing them… We’ve been learning how to communicate; we didn’t have any channel of communication [with the audience] five years ago. Now we have an active blog with 1.3 million page views last month and tens of thousands of people who refresh the page a couple of times a day.””We were always thinking about what kind of ambitious game we can do next, but before we knew it, we had realized that this is a very stable place to be.” Of course, it takes more than blog posts to keep the community engaged, so SCS puts an emphasis on continued support for its games. Its most successful title to date, Euro Truck Simulator 2, came out three years ago, but Sebor said sales picked up in the third year and are gaining pace even now in its fourth year thanks to the regular stream of updates, freebies, new features, and DLC the company has been working on. Genres like truck driving sims aren’t hit-driven, Sebor said, and developers may be better off focused on building an evergreen product with updates to keep the game relevant even four or five years after launch.Related JobsSenior Game Designer – UE4 – AAA United Kingdom Amiqus GamesProgrammer – REMOTE – work with industry veterans! North West Amiqus GamesJunior Video Editor – GLOBAL publisher United Kingdom Amiqus GamesDiscover more jobs in games The company has been getting better at building both games and community over the years, to the point that what started as a stopgap for SCS has unquestionably became its specialty.”We didn’t initially recognize it,” Sebor said. “We were always thinking, ‘Let’s do the next AAA shooter!’ like everybody who enters this maybe dreams about when they’re young. We were always thinking about what kind of ambitious game we can do next, but before we knew it, we had realized that this is a very stable place to be. This is something we know, and something people like us–love us–for.”For me the breaking point was when my own kids when they were young started experimenting with games. I had my son sitting on my laptop and he couldn’t drive, but he was happy just hitting the spacebar and doing something stupid in the game that felt interesting for him. And I finally realized for myself that people are happy playing our games. Why would I think about changing the genre or chasing an ambitious to do something else? This is just as good a game as any elves versus orcs game can be.”Celebrating employer excellence in the video games industry8th July 2021Submit your company Sign up for The Daily Update and get the best of GamesIndustry.biz in your inbox. Enter your email addressMore storiesEA leans on Apex Legends and live services in fourth quarterQ4 and full year revenues close to flat and profits take a tumble, but publisher’s bookings still up double-digitsBy Brendan Sinclair 7 hours agoEA Play Live set for July 22Formerly E3-adjacent event moves to take place a month and half after the ESA’s showBy Jeffrey Rousseau 9 hours agoLatest comments Sign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? Register now.last_img read more

Iron Mountain Interactive secures $3m investment from Oasis Games

first_imgIron Mountain Interactive secures $3m investment from Oasis GamesFunding represents first Western investment from the Hong Kong-based publisher Haydn TaylorSenior Staff WriterMonday 2nd July 2018Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareCompanies in this articleOasis GamesAustrian indie developer Iron Mountain Interactive has secured a $3 million Series A investment from Asian publisher Oasis Games. The deal will see Oasis Games retain a minority stake in the company along with securing exclusive worldwide publishing rights to Iron Mountain’s unannounced game, a competitive online multiplayer “Hero Sport” slated for release in 2019. Established last year in Vienna, Iron Mountain was founded by a group of Rockstar Games, Deep Silver, and Socialspiel Entertainment veterans with experience working on titles such as Grand Theft Auto, Dead Island, Max Payne, and Manhunt. “Oasis Games shares our vision for bringing high-quality online multiplayer games to the world, and they have been doing so globally since 2011,” said Iron Mountain CEO Mike Borras. “I’m looking forward to working in partnership with Oasis Games to combine their Chinese and global platforms and resources with our love for creating unique and ambitious multiplayer games that can be enjoyed on multiple platforms by millions of players around the world.”Related JobsSenior Game Designer – UE4 – AAA United Kingdom Amiqus GamesProgrammer – REMOTE – work with industry veterans! North West Amiqus GamesJunior Video Editor – GLOBAL publisher United Kingdom Amiqus GamesDiscover more jobs in games To date, Oasis Games has released 90 titles across PC, console, and mobile, including Legend Online which has over 50 million players.”[This] is our first investment in a Western company and further strengthens our publishing portfolio and stable of development talent, as this team’s long and impressive track record for developing high-quality, unique gameplay experiences for both Western and Asian audiences, will resonate with our international player base,” said Oasis Games CEO Yuhui Wang. “This partnership marks yet another milestone in our ongoing strategy for growing our business in the Western market, together with our partners at Sony Interactive Entertainment Asia.”Celebrating employer excellence in the video games industry8th July 2021Submit your company Sign up for The Daily Update and get the best of GamesIndustry.biz in your inbox. Enter your email addressMore storiesEA leans on Apex Legends and live services in fourth quarterQ4 and full year revenues close to flat and profits take a tumble, but publisher’s bookings still up double-digitsBy Brendan Sinclair 4 hours agoEA Play Live set for July 22Formerly E3-adjacent event moves to take place a month and half after the ESA’s showBy Jeffrey Rousseau 5 hours agoLatest comments Sign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? Register now.last_img read more

Branded for success | Opinion

first_imgBranded for success | OpinionGame Dragons’ Philip Oliver offers advice on how to licence IP, and how to identify IP that is now in the public domainPhilip OliverThursday 18th April 2019Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareAndrew and I have been making games for over 35 years, and over a third of the games we’ve made have been based on popular brands.Through our first company Blitz Games, we produced games based on Mickey Mouse, Action Man, Puss In Boots, Chicken Run, Pac-Man, Burger King, Frogger, SpongeBob, Bratz, Barbie, The Mummy Returns, War Games, and many more. It’s probably fair to say that there’s unlikely to be another developer in the games industry with more experience of working with brands, so we know what we’re talking about.Familiarity sellsOur first experience of working on a branded game was as far back as 1989 when we created GhostBusters 2 for the Spectrum and Amstrad. It was no surprise at all that it became a bestseller — that’s the power of brands, though obviously it was a good game too.”Never attempt to use a brand without licensing it — you’re likely to end up in court” But even before we could actually license existing brands, we knew the power of recognisable names and images — so we based a game on Robin Hood. Super Robin Hood was released in 1986 and became our first UK No.1 bestseller. We’d go on to use other ‘free’ brands, i.e. those that have fallen out of copyright or were simply myths or legends. In the UK, Europe and the United States, the general rule is that copyright lasts for the lifetime of the artist plus 70 years after their death. It used to be shorter, so you can assume anything created before 1908 is now in the public domain, but you should always check.Recently, just as a hobby, we designed a new Dizzy game based on The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, called Wonderful Dizzy. Since this was written in 1900, it’s well out of copyright and therefore can be used freely without a licence. But a word of warning — new intellectual property rights can be created by new material based on the original.The classic case here is Disney’s Snow White and Seven Dwarfs. While the underlying story is in the public domain — first published by the Brothers Grimm in 1812 — and can be freely used, Disney’s version contains many new elements which it fiercely protects. The look of Snow White, the dwarfs and their names, were created by Disney for its 1937 film.The number one rule, though, is that you do a proper legal check before starting work on anything based on an existing property, regardless of its age.While a story may have fallen out of copyright, check you aren’t infringing on aspects from more modern adaptationsWarning: License it or leave itNever attempt to use a brand without licensing it — you’re likely to end up in court. Even if you just use signs in your game carrying a company’s products or logos the brand holder can object. Remember that even the look of a product has copyright, so if you put an obvious picture or 3D model of a particular Ferrari in your game, even if you remove its badge you’re still in breach of copyright. Likewise, there are plenty of geographical landmarks that are copyrighted (such as the Hollywood sign), so you need to do your research on that front as well.Understanding brand valuesAll brands have different values to consumers and different target audiences. Gucci is an extremely valuable brand, but it has little value in the games space. Whereas EA was rumoured to have guaranteed $50 million for exclusive rights to Harry Potter back in 2000, because it’s perfect material for games and gamers.”A smart developer will create a game that really pushes the scope of a franchise, evolving and expanding it as they do” It’s important to consider what audience you are targeting and therefore what brands will be attractive. There are many casual brands that would work well on mobile but have no synergy with PC gamers, so platform choice is also important.What’s the deal?There are a number of different ways you might end up working with a brand. In all cases the brand holder will want final approval and sign off of all materials. That includes the game itself and all the supporting marketing and advertising materials, too. The licences contain the rules and terms that have been negotiated, including platforms, number of titles, and the period of time the games can be sold over.Most brand holders also have a brand bible, which catalogues all the known rules of their brand. These are largely visual, but may also contain character biographies, backgrounds and motivations. Often there will be descriptions of the tone and feel of the ‘universe’ of the brand. It’s very important to get your hands on the brand bible as soon as possible — maybe even prior to your pitch if you can.Work for HireIn this scenario, you are approached to bid on developing a game of a brand, either by a games publisher or the brand holder themselves. This is often referred to as an RFP (request for proposal), and you’re unlikely to be the only developer that has been sent the brief. They will already most likely know the formats and genre of the games they’re looking for, and will want you to show your creative flair and your technical abilities to create great games that complement the other media and merchandise in the brand.”It’s not a sell-out to work on a licensed product — it’s a privilege” ReactiveThere are times when brand holders reach out to sell the interactive license to one of their properties. Sometimes they use licensing agents for this, as happened with us when when we bought the interactive rights for the Chicken Run franchise back in 1999.In that case, you’re bidding against others and must convince the brand holder that you understand their property and its audience, that you can create a game or games that will not only increase the reputation and value of their brand, but will be commercially successful too. And you’ll need to back that confidence up with forecasts, a fair royalty back to them, with a minimum guarantee, and demonstrate you have a route to market.Sometimes you might spot a brand that’s not yet been exploited in games, and you can approach the licensors to see if they’d be interested in doing a deal. Again, you’ll need to present a creative and business proposal for them to consider, and then negotiate terms.Quality beats quantityBack in the ’90s, the charts were dominated by the game of the film, toy, or cartoon series. As time went on, these games gained a reputation for being poor experiences as publishers began slapping a license on very basic games, relying on the franchise to sell them.You see less of this now, though, since gamers are more demanding and development budgets have increased. The big publishers now pick and choose which brands to license, and balance them with their own growing gaming franchises, while the mobile market is still fertile ground for branded games to thrive.Check the small printWith licensing contracts, you need to be very careful about what they do and don’t contain. You’ll need to know the boundaries, but also where you can potentially introduce new ideas. Don’t expect to own any of those expansions, though — they’ll become part of the brand itself if they’re successful. We created additional characters for Frogger 2 in 2000, which all went on to be part of the brand and used in later games and even in a cartoon series.However, sometimes licenses don’t include everything you’d hope and expect. We once created a game for an action movie where we discovered part way through production that the publisher’s license didn’t include the movie’s music, storyline, or the likenesses of actors. They did have the name, logo and poster art, so effectively we made the game of the poster — but because of production timings, we only saw this after we’d completed most of the game.Creative freedomYou’ll obviously have existing rules to follow when working in an established universe, but a smart developer will create a game that really pushes the scope of a franchise, evolving and expanding it as they do. Licensors don’t want games that add nothing of value to the brand, so you should see it as a creative challenge and not a restriction.Related JobsSenior Game Designer – UE4 – AAA United Kingdom Amiqus GamesProgrammer – REMOTE – work with industry veterans! North West Amiqus GamesJunior Video Editor – GLOBAL publisher United Kingdom Amiqus GamesDiscover more jobs in games Sometimes games can be used purely as a promotional tool, with game sales taking second place to general brand awareness. We produced a series of games for fast food giant Burger King in 2006. They went on to sell over three million units, but more importantly for the brand holders, they drove a lot of people into Burger King outlets and garnered press attention and several advertising awards.Similarly, we also worked with Coca-Cola on their 2012 Super Bowl campaign, creating a real-time interactive experience that allowed the Coca-Cola polar bears to react to the game online as it played out. It’s not always about creating a standard gaming experience.Brands can bring a powerful marketing pull to a game, especially if your title lines up with a major new movie or toy launch — but with great exposure comes great responsibility. Choose the right brand, get inside the heads of its fans, treat it with respect, and use your creativity to add value to the universe you’re playing in. It’s not a sell-out to work on a licensed product — it’s a privilege.Philip Oliver is co-founder of new consultancy firm Game Dragons and one half of the veteran Oliver Twins. This is the first in a series of columns from Game Dragons offering advice to developers on growing their business. You can read the rest here.Celebrating employer excellence in the video games industry8th July 2021Submit your company Sign up for The Daily Update and get the best of GamesIndustry.biz in your inbox. Enter your email addressMore storiesEA leans on Apex Legends and live services in fourth quarterQ4 and full year revenues close to flat and profits take a tumble, but publisher’s bookings still up double-digitsBy Brendan Sinclair 2 hours agoEA Play Live set for July 22Formerly E3-adjacent event moves to take place a month and half after the ESA’s showBy Jeffrey Rousseau 4 hours agoLatest comments Sign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? Register now.last_img read more