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开发者谈制作成功的IP游戏需注意的几个方面

发布时间:2019-07-24 09:04:39

开发者谈制作成功的IP游戏需注意的几个方面

原作者:Philip Oliver 译者:Vivian Xue

我和安德鲁制作游戏超过35年了,我们三分之一的作品是IP游戏。

我们成立了第一家公司Blitz Games后,制作了一些基于知名IP的游戏,如米老鼠、机动人、穿靴子的猫、小鸡快跑、吃豆人、汉堡王、青蛙过河、海绵宝宝、贝兹娃娃、芭比娃娃、木乃伊归来、战争游戏等等。在IP合作方面,整个行业大概没人比我们更有经验了,因此我们是比较有话语权的。

1. 版权保护期

早在1989年,我们就开始制作IP游戏了,我们的第一部作品是Spectrum 和Amstrad游戏机上的《超能敢死队2》。游戏的畅销一点都不意外——这就是IP的力量,尽管游戏本身质量不错。

不过,在我们真正取得IP授权之前,我们就已经意识到了著名形象的力量——因此我们制作过一款关于罗宾汉的游戏。《超能罗宾汉》(Super Robin Hood)发行于1986年,成为了英国游戏销量冠军。之后,我们继续寻找其它“免费”IP,譬如那些不受版权保护的神话传说。在英国、欧洲和美国,版权保护期为作者在世期间加上去世后70年。过去法律规定的年限甚至更短,因此你可以认为所有1908年前的作品都进入了公有领域,但你还是应该确认一下。

Star Wars: Battle Front II(from wikipedia)

Star Wars: Battle Front II(from wikipedia)

最近,我们出于爱好设计了一款《绿野仙踪》版的Dizzy游戏,叫“Wonderful Dizzy”。由于小说是1990年写成的,因此已经进入了公有领域。不过在此提醒一句——基于这些作品的二次创作是受版权保护的。

一个经典案例是迪士尼的《白雪公主和七个小矮人》。尽管原格林童话已成为公版,可以免费使用,但迪士尼版本包含了许多新元素,并受到严格的版权保护。白雪公主、小矮人的外形和名字是迪士尼在1937年的电影中创造的。

因此,在基于任何知识产权创作之前,你首先要做好法律方面的调查,无论它的年代多么久远。

2. 获取IP授权,否则别使用它

永远不要使用未经授权的IP——你可能会被告上法庭。即便你的游戏里仅仅出现了该公司产品和logo,他们也可以对你提起诉讼。记住连产品外观也是受保护的,如果你在游戏里使用了某款法拉利的图片或3D模型,哪怕你去掉了法拉利标志,仍然侵犯了版权。类似的,很多地标建筑也受版权保护(比如好莱坞标志),因此你要做好这方面的调查。

3. 了解IP的价值

各个IP对于不同的目标受众来说,价值是不一样的。古驰是一个奢侈品牌,但它在游戏领域价值甚微。而《哈利波特》与游戏契合度高,深受众多玩家青睐,传闻EA在2000年花了5000万美金拿下了这个独家版权。

了解你的目标玩家以及他们喜爱的IP很重要。很多休闲IP在手游上表现不错,但PC玩家对它们不感冒,因此选对平台很关键。

4。 IP合作的形式

IP合作形式有很多。但有一点是共同的,IP持有者要进行最终审批并签署所有文件。这些文件包含了授权书、配套的营销和广告材料。IP授权包含一些条款,限定了游戏发行的平台、数量和销售期限。

大多数IP持有者都有一部“品牌圣经”(brand bible),收录了一切关于该品牌的已知的信息。这些大多是可视化的资料(图片、影像等),但也包含了角色传记、背景和动机。通常还包含了该品牌基调和风格的描述。尽快了解“品牌圣经”很重要——如果可以的话,在你进行推介前熟悉它。

i. 雇佣形式

它是指发行商或IP持有者主动联系你,向你发放标书,为某一品牌制作游戏。这种形式经常被称作“征求方案”(request for proposal),而你可能不是他们唯一征求方案的开发者。他们很可能已经清楚自己想要的游戏形式和类型,并希望你展示你的创造力和技术,能够打造与该品牌旗下其它媒体和商品互补的优质游戏。

ii。 主动寻求合作

有时品牌方会公开出售IP。有时候他们会通过中介,我们1999年正是通过这个渠道购买IP《小鸡快跑》,制作了系列游戏。

这种情况下,你将与其它人竞买该IP,并且必须让品牌方相信你很了解他们的IP和受众,你的游戏不仅能提高品牌的名气与价值,还能获得商业上的成功。为了增强品牌方的信任,你必须对游戏的商业表现做预估,承诺未来支付可观的版权费,预付最低保证金,并展示你的销售门路。

当你发现了一个尚未被游戏使用的IP时,你可以主动联系IP持有者,询问他们是否有兴趣合作。同样的,你必须向他们提一份供有创意的商业计划书,然后再与他们商议条款。

5. 质量胜过数量

上个世纪90年代,基于电影、玩具或卡通片的游戏占据了排行榜。但随着时间推移,游戏发行商开始将IP套用在简单机制上,企图靠品牌名气赚钱,因此这些游戏也以糟糕的质量出名。

如今,由于玩家要求的提高和开发成本的攀升,这种现象减少了许多。如今大型发行商在IP选择上更为谨慎,并且会根据他们已发行的游戏做平衡,而移动游戏市场仍然是品牌游戏蓬勃发展的沃土。

6. 注意条款范围

你必须仔细地阅读授权合同,注意它包含与不包含的内容。你应当清楚合同的界线,以及哪些条款能让你发挥创意。尽管如此,不要期望拥有扩展的内容——一旦成功,它们将为授权方所有。2000年,我们为《青蛙过河2》设计了额外的角色,它们成为了该IP的一部分,被用到了之后的游戏、甚至是动画片里。

然而,有时授权合同并不包含所有你期望的内容。我们曾经为一部动作电影开发游戏,在制作过程中,我们发现合同里不包含电影音乐、故事情节、或演员肖像的授权。它确实包含电影名、logo和海报艺术,我们正好利用的是海报——但由于赶进度,我们在制作完游戏大部分内容后才发现了这一点。

7。 创意自由

与一个成熟IP合作,难免要遵守一些既定规则,但聪明的开发者懂得如何进化和扩展IP。授权方也不希望游戏对他们的品牌价值毫无增益。因此不要把它看作一种限制,把它视为一项创意挑战。

有时游戏只是一种单纯的营销工具,目的在于提升品牌知名度,而它本身的销量是次要的。2006年,我们为快餐业巨头汉堡王制作了一系列游戏。游戏销量超过300万份,但对于品牌方来说,更重要的是这些游戏吸引大量消费者到汉堡王餐厅,获得了媒体的报道,并赢得了众多广告大奖。

类似的,2012年我们为可口可乐公司制作了“超级碗”广告游戏——大屏幕上的可口可乐北极熊能根据比赛情况做出即时互动反应。它的目的也不是为了创造一种标准的游戏体验。

品牌可以为游戏带来巨大的市场吸引力,特别是当你的游戏与重大电影或玩具同期发行时——但曝光度也带来了责任。选择正确的品牌,了解该品牌粉丝的想法,尊重品牌,动用你的创意为该品牌增加新的价值。开发授权产品不是一门生意——它是一种荣幸。

本文由游戏邦编译,转载请注明来源,或咨询微信zhengjintiao

Andrew 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.

1. Familiarity sells
Our 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.

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.

2. Warning: License it or leave it
Never 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.

3. Understanding brand values
All 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.

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.

4. 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 Hire
In 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.

- Reactive
There 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。

5. Quality beats quantity
Back 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.

6. Check the small print
With 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.

7. Creative freedom
You’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.

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。(source:)

 


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