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Card game licensing advice?

Postby samuelbtaylor » Mon Aug 25, 2008 9:09 am

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Hey everyone --

I just stumbled in the door from a great set of posts and I was really impressed with the forum. :)

My buddy and I make card games. A LOT of card games. And, naturally, we want to license some of them.

Has anyone done this? I'd love any advice, anecdotes, resources. Anything, really.

I've found the Hasbro Game Broker list (and heard they buy almost nothing) and the Newfuntiers website, stumbled into the Conceptioneering website, stuff like that. Really, I had no idea there were so many game and toy companies out there.

I've talked to Steve Jackson, one of the niche games makers (and a great guy), and he said he'd never heard of any licensing in that market segment. Or maybe I didn't ask the question right. But, anyway, I've been focusing on the mass market toy and game companies for now.

Is there an easy way to get a list of the mass market game companies?

Thanks in advance!

Postby minnesotainventor » Mon Aug 25, 2008 9:46 am

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I will tell you a story about a successful card game maker who created the game Sequence. It is a fun game and I have bought several over the years and on the cover it states: Recommended by Bill Barret. Now after having fun conversations about who is Bill Barrett after going through a newly purchased box of Sequence to see if I misplaced who is Bill Barrett...I found no indication of who he is. I searched the internet...and no one knows. I was at one of my timeshares in Minnesota and we took a bus ride to a casino and overheard the word Sequence. I had to tell them the funniest part of that game is the sticker on the front that say's recommended by Bill Barret and giving no instructions on who he is. He stated, I'm Bill Barrett.

Bill is a successful Midwest Mfg. Toy Rep. who helped this inventor with the game Sequence. The game was starting to show success and the inventor asked Bill...what could I do to get more people to purchase this card game? Bill stated if you get someone to recommend it...then you could get more sales. He asked Bill..."Do you recommend it? He said, sure! There you go! Now the package states for several years now with a sticker on it that say's... Recommended by Bill Barrett.

Bill is now a friend of mine and his daughter is also a successful Toy rep. in the business.

I would be happy to put you in contact with Bill, as he would be a perfect person for you to talk with.

I think card games are fairly easy to create (prototype) and you should protect yourself as much as possible before going into discussions about your card game details. If I was to do a card game I would certainly try to get Bill or his daughter to recommend it! (hint, hint).

Good luck!

Steve Stark
Wham-O EZ SPIN Foam Frisbee Disc Inventor

P.S. It looks like it is no longer has a sticker but a stamp look on the box with Bill's signature.

Postby samuelbtaylor » Tue Aug 26, 2008 10:05 am

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Joined: Mon Aug 25, 2008 8:49 am

That's a great story. I've played Sequence myself, a long time ago, but I don't remember the sticker. :)

I'd love to talk to Bill. I really need to find out what sort of protections are needed, which is the best company to approach, and how to approach them, and he sounds like a great resource.

I'll PM you my email.

Thanks for all the help!

Postby minnesotainventor » Tue Aug 26, 2008 12:08 pm

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Happy to help!

Steve Stark

Re: Card game licensing advice?

Postby terrycan123 » Tue Apr 21, 2009 12:39 am

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Dear Sam

This is an older forum so let's hope you see this post.

I'm not a lawyer.

I believe you should be able to protect your card games with copyright and trademark protection.

Manufacturing a deck of cards and a rule book would be inexpensive compared to metal and plastic inventions people ask me about.

You might be able to market this game yourself.

How about a utube commercial?
Massive success to you

Terry Cantwell


Re: Card game licensing advice?

Postby CriterionD » Thu Apr 23, 2009 3:20 pm

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Location: Tempe, AZ
if you are simply looking for a list of relevant manufacturers, I would recommend hitting up www.selectory.com, signing up for a free 7 day trial, and figuring out how to use all the search features on the site. The free trial is not fully functional, but it should be functional enough to get sufficient use out of.

Reference USA is a similar but generally lesser quality database which you might be able to access for free through your local public library.

Re: Card game licensing advice?

Postby PennyB » Thu Apr 23, 2009 6:26 pm

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Joined: Wed Jan 30, 2008 4:41 am
As pointed out this topic is old, it yet may bear fruit for future readers even if the original writer has moved on.

Now to the matter of licensing games, Yes it is a usual occurrence and Yes, some games can be patented. There are specialized patent attorneys in gaming states whose clients are only in the gaming field. Licensing is part/parcel of this environment.

To have a game accepted by a casino it has to be play-tested. A Table(s) are set aside to play-test new games in some casinos open to licensing. Naturally one brings "the numbers" from an accredited math professor. They charge a bloody fortune and are usually booked for months and years in advance many of whom only accept corporate clients. In terms of connections, one targets Casino Managers or is shunted top-down via VP Gaming to a Casino Manager to get a foot in the door if one doesn’t know anyone. If approved, it then requires Gaming Board approval usually scheduled by the casino and that can take months and months.

Another route is to pre-test outside a formal casino environment in round one by paying a traveling, for-hire casino game entertainment service. They tour the country often hired by Convention and Visitors Authorities as entertainment offering Vegas themed casino nights including croupiers (dealers) etc. One might find some willing to informally play-test for a per table or flat fee also allowing survey takers to gather impartial qualitative and quantitative research to be used as a promotions and marketing tool along with "the numbers."

Yet another option in round one is to target Indian Gaming casinos rather than Vegas or Atlantic City type operators around the country. It probably wouldn't hurt to figure out which state has favourable gaming laws over others when it comes to rules pertaining to new games.

Another option is to license one’s game to a sub-licensee with a track record of licensing to casinos. For a cut he works his magic with his contacts. He likely has a mathematician in his back pocket. One person who springs to mind is Roy Ritner at Horizon Gaming in Arizona. He has Paigow poker games licensed in both California and NV casinos.

Yet another option is to exhibit at gaming trade shows held yearly in most gaming states such as the Global Gaming Expo, Indian Gaming shows, World Gaming Industry, Dubai World Gaming Expo, World Gaming Congress & Expo, etc. Usually these shows have a section set aside for new games to be played and it's here one meets or has access to major execs.

Yet another option is to advertise one's game in major publications of which there are many in gaming states.

In closing, there are so many options but it’s a tough route requiring a steeled heart and a “I won’t give in” attitude but even then, there are no guarantees as it’s "all in the numbers”, the entertainment and the excitement of a game.

Penny Ballou