Activision clarifies â??contest IP theftâ?? rumours

Activision clarifies â??contest IP theftâ?? rumours

By Rob Crossley

July 6th 2010 at 3:44PM

Publisher assures that finalists will retain game rights, and clears up confusion over the contest

Activision has hit back at allegations that its $500,000 indie talent contest will force participants relinquish their IP to the publishing giant.

In a surprise move during February’s DICE Summit, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick unveiled the Independent Games Competition – claiming that his company wants to capture some of the dazzling raw talent that orbits the industry.

Yet from the moment Activision opened the first phase of the contest, the firm faced allegations that it wanted finalists to give up their IP in order to proceed in the contest.

It was rumour that cast familiar aspersions on a publisher looking to revamp its public image, but Activision has been swift in stating that the speculation is unequivocally false.

“There was some confusion to the way the rules were written,” a spokesperson told Develop.

“It was thought that if you enter the contest you automatically give up your IP rights to Activision. That’s not true at all. What the wording in our rules meant was that if you enter the contest with your own game idea you have to prove that your idea belongs to you. That’s all it meant.”

Activision didn’t completely rule out the possibility of acquiring IP from finalists of the contest – but insisted that such a business move would only be possible after the competition hands out $175,000 to the winner and $75,000 to the runner up.
 
“If you win the contest, and we want to publisher your game, we then enter into a completely separate discussion about who owns the IP. But by default the game designer keeps it,” the spokesperson added.

Since it was announced back in February, the Activision Independent Games Competition has been marred by ambiguity and misunderstanding. Kotick himself first claimed that the contest would award $500,000 to winning developers, though that princely sum was nowhere to be found when the publisher issued a press release on the contest.

There was also confusion when Activision said the contest would come in two phases, of which details of the second part have yet to be issued.

But confusion can end now, as Activision has gone through a step-by-step plan with Develop, confirming that the contest will, after all, award $500,000 to winning developers.

US-based independent developers can today submit their game proposal to Activision and, by October, the publisher will have picked five finalists, awarding the winning submission $175,000 to assist in the development of the game.

The runner-up will receive $75,000 for the same purposes, but it is likely that both winners – and possibly those who just missed the mark – will network with Activision on publishing partnership opportunities.

“We’re also running the competition again from October to March,” said the spokesperson, “where another batch of first prize and second prize winners will be announced from five finalists.”

According to Activision, the small window of time between both two phases will give the publisher the opportunity to tweak the contest if needed.