There is a practice in the movie industry when authors sell so-called “options” to the rights of their stories. Squeaky Wheel CEO Ryan Sumo has explained how game companies could adopt the same approach, so game designers could see more of their ideas come to life.
Academia: School Simulator
Sumo touched on this topic in a post on Gamasutra published on June 11. He decided to share his thoughts after he realized that some “really good game ideas” in his head will probably never come to life.
That’s why Sumo thinks that game designers should have an opportunity to sell rights to their ideas and game design documents. When it comes to movies, a studio can reach an author and “option” the rights to their story and try to find the funding for a possible film. After the option rights run out, the company can pay more money to extend them or opt out, so an author could receive new offers.
According to Sumo, the same practice can be adopted by the games industry. It could be possible with the creation of a “marketplace for optioning game design documents.”
“I would love to see these games come to fruition, but the kinds of games I like typically take 3-4 years to make,” he wrote. “If I tried to make these with a team I would, if I were lucky and still cogent in old age, only be able to put out 8 more games in my lifetime.”
Sumo pointed out that if he could option his documents to other studios, he would see more of his ideas come to life and turned into games developed by different companies. That’s why he thinks that large publishers should act like movie studios, optioning rights for game design documents and finding teams that would develop games based on them.
The Japanese games industry already has a similar practice. For example, Ico and Shadow of the Colossus game designer Fumito Ueda and his team usually generate ideas that other studios could execute. In this case, he is more like an architect, “where GenDesign would draw the blueprint but not physically pour the foundation.”
You can read Ryan Sumo’s full article here.