A legal guide to the video games industry
05 October 2021
Video games have been a popular form of entertainment since their creation and have played a key role in shaping pop culture across the world. In recent years, video games have dominated entertainment retail sales, with the global video games market estimated to be worth in excess of US$174 billion in 2020 and predicted to exceed US$300 billion by 2025.
The explosion in sales is in part due to advances in technology and the accessibility of online gaming, which have allowed for the globalisation of video games on an unprecedented scale. Improved internet speeds, mobile gaming and free-to-play models have made video games accessible to groups of gamers that may not otherwise have had access to a gaming platform. In addition, technological advances (in particular, the emergence of major streaming platforms such as Twitch) combined with a cultural shift have facilitated the rise of the esports industry, with elite esports professionals commanding significant salaries, securing personal sponsorship deals and competing for multimillion dollar prize pools.
While, due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 was a challenging year for many industries, it was, however, a watershed year for the gaming industry. There are now more developers, content creators and new games coming to the market than ever before, and the new generation of gaming consoles and the advent of 5G mobile connectivity offers new opportunities for stakeholders across the industry. Moreover, reports of increased online purchases and gaming activity in the market coincided with the lockdown measures put in place by governments across the world in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With this in mind, we wanted to create an all-in-one legal guide for those that currently operate in or are considering entering the video games industry with the purpose of providing an overview of the life cycle of a video game – from the early stages of development, past the grind of regulatory compliance, through to the final stages of monetising the product.
We have had the privilege of working closely with several clients in the video games and entertainment industry, including developers, content creators and investors. This has allowed us to gain valuable insight into key legal and commercial issues that stakeholders regularly face, ranging from ownership of content, licensing of works and enforcing proprietary rights against unscrupulous third parties. We wanted to bring our specialists together to share their knowledge and expertise with the video games industry and to help those that are facing glitches that require fixing. This guide is the result.