Value of a license

March 01, 2010

Tiger Woods during a practice round at the MastersImage via Wikipedia
Tiger Woods or Mac Senour golf from EA?

Recently as a iPhone game development networking talk, that's where a few hundred people get together under the excuse of a "talk" when really they're there to network with people and steal them from their current employers,  the newish head of a large social network proposed that a license on a game means nothing.

The room burst into laughter and answered him with a collective: "You're kidding right?" But sadly, he wasn't.  I could grab the microphone faster enough for my question to be relevant, but I really wanted to say: "Hi I'm Mac Senour, I play a little golf. With Tiger Woods recent problems, do you think EA could put me on the cover and sales would be exactly the same?".  The answer is, no of course not.  But this persons answer, I'm presuming, would be yes.

Clearly he and I think very differently.
The value of a license is that split second that the consumer takes to give your game a second look. Once they have purchased a game, I agree that the license means nothing.  It then all depends on the game itself.  After the consumer has bought the game there is no difference between Mac Senour Golf and Tiger Woods Golf.

The reason a publisher buys a license is to buy that split second look from the consumer.  It would make no sense to spend $50,000 to get the rights to use my likeness in a golf game if you didn't know for a fact that it would increase sales to offset that expense. And for the record, I'm a little cheaper than that.

What licenses have you seen for a game that DIDN'T make you take the second look?

While you're pondering that, keep in mind this story... a board game designer who is considered legendary noted that he made more money off the contract for the American Idol card game, than he did in 7 years of running his game company.