Budget Developer Contract

Summary

  • TelecomSoft had six months to publish the game once satisfactory master copies were delivered by the Author.
  • The Author had to fix any bugs within a month of receiving written notification from TelecomSoft. This is where the in-house games testers (in the Development department) came in!
  • If a budget game was priced at £1.99, then the ex-VAT figure was approximately £1.73 (VAT was 15% in the UK back in 1987).
  • The Author therefore received 6% of £1.73 for every copy sold, which equates to roughly £0.10 per copy.
  • The contracts included selling the game via ‘telesoftware’ but to my knowledge this never actually happened. BT foretold the distribution of software via the phone lines years before it really became practical (with the Internet). Unfortunately, it didn’t happen soon enough which is why they ended up selling TelecomSoft in 1989!
  • Royalties were paid to Authors four times per year, within two months of the accounting periods at the end of March, June, September and December.
  • As you can see, there were obligations and timescales relating to both the Author and the Publisher.
  • Doing a few rough sums, you can see that an advance of £1500 equates to selling 15,000 copies of the game (as the Author gets approximately £0.10 per copy sold).
  • 15,000 copies is presumably the minimum amount that TelecomSoft expected to sell, otherwise the advance would have been set at a lower amount.
  • TelecomSoft contracts were printed on plain white paper with no official headings or logos in evidence at all.
  • It’s no real surprise to see that TelecomSoft had the only say in whether a conversion was created for another platform.
  • The royalty payments were set at a lower rate if the Author didn’t write the conversions himself, and the Author had to supply information to other developers if the game was converted by others.
  • We don’t know if the royalty rates were lower for Author’s writing conversions, but they presumably would have been the difference between the standard rate for a new title, and the rate that the Author gets for having his game converted by others, (i.e. the Conversion Author would only get 4 per cent and 10 per cent respectively if the Author gets 2 per cent and 10 per cent).

What do you think?