Computer and video games have not only become the world’s biggest entertainment industry by revenue, but the games industry is also at the very forefront of technological, societal, and regulatory change. Businesses involved in this complex ecosystem need expert legal advice. Lewis Silkin is there to deliver it.
Having advised on games since the days of the Sega Mega Drive, today we continue to advise clients from indie and AA studios to multinational developers and publishers on some of the most cutting-edge legal issues. As technologies converge and the dawn of the metaverse approaches, we also draw on the experience of our wider Media & Entertainment and Technology teams to offer cutting-edge legal advice in this ever-changing industry that now touches the worlds of advertising, music, film, TV and sport.
We offer a full-service to games clients, both large and small, who include game developers, publishers, esports platforms, game distributors, book publishers, VR and AR companies, middleware providers and more. We know games deals, the market positions and how to deal with the difficult issues that will always arise. We have experience in dealing with all kinds of games on various platforms with all different monetisation strategies, from PC and console MMOs to casual mobile games.
Examples of the types of work we do in this sector include:
Commercial contracts and games deals:
- Publishing contracts, acting for both publishers and developers, in all key games markets worldwide.
- Development agreements, relating to games and related technology on all platforms.
- Outsourcing arrangements, acting for businesses on both sides of outsourcing.
- Licensing deals, from TV, book and film cross-overs to merchandising.
- Consumer documentation, including EULAs, privacy policies and other terms.
- Esports sponsorship and licensing arrangements.
- Games on blockchain platforms and incorporating NFT technology.
Intellectual property advice and management:
- Trade mark filings and searches.
- Patent filings and advice on games technology.
- Registered design filings to protect GUIs, characters and other features.
- Advice on using real-life people, buildings and objects in games.
- Brand and reputation management.
- Broadcasting and digital rights.
- Player data collection and use.
- Consumer law regulation.
- Loot boxes and gambling issues.
- Advertising standards for microtransactions and more.
- Online safety and codes of conduct for players.
- Esports/gaming ordinances, regulations and tournament rules.
‘Lewis Silkin has always provided timely and pragmatic advice. They are experts in the entertainment and media field, understand the marketplace, the players and the types of deals being done, and the have been extremely helpful in providing strategic and tactical guidance and advice.’ Legal 500 2022
‘The team is extremely well integrated and versatile, so that it is always easy to receive pointed advice from the member of the team with the most relevant expertise.’ Legal 500 2022
Recruiting games talent from overseas: Lewis Silkin Comments for GamesIndustry.biz15 July 2022
Nick Allan, Lee Nair and Kayleigh Williams highlight legal pitfalls and tips for making the direct hire of remote employees a success.
Nick Allan comments for Gamesindustry.biz: Clone culture and its continuous impact on indie developers21 February 2022
Discussions around clones crop up on a regular basis, usually around the release of widely successful games that are being copied. In recent weeks, the conversation mainly revolved around hit puzzle game Wordle, which has seen a high number of clones emerge following its viral success, as well as numerous games inspired by its simple word-guessing mechanic.
Nick Allan comments for the BBC: Wordle code could be copied to play for seven years03 February 2022
The code that powers the website of the viral puzzle game Wordle can be copied and saved to continue playing it for the next seven years, it has been revealed.
Sports Q&A - How are esports regulated?28 January 2021
It’s impossible to answer this question without taking a closer look at the esports ecosystem. Although there are certain parallels to draw with traditional sports (with professional players, teams, leagues and championships) there are also significant differences. In particular, the international and national federation structure as seen in traditional sports is generally absent in esports.
Subscriptions: When are auto-renewals fair game?06 January 2020
As the CMA investigates the use of subscriptions in video games, James Gill, JJ Shaw and Mark Hersey comment on best practices.
The Esports Gold Rush – What Do ‘Traditional Sports’ Need to Consider?29 November 2019
Everybody wants a piece of the esports pie, and the International Cycling Union (ICU) is the latest to make its move. The world governing body of cycling has teamed up with Zwift - the innovative online platform which allows riders to compete against each other in a virtual world - to host the world’s very first ‘cycling esport world championships’ in 2020.
Oliver Fairhurst and JJ Shaw write for LawInSport: Cheating in video games – lessons from Blizzard’s successful case against cheat and bot developer27 August 2019
Oliver Fairhurst and JJ Shaw have written an article for LawInSport. The article discusses the claim that was recently won against a developer of cheat software by Blizzard, the video game developer and publisher behind hugely successful games such as World of Warcraft, Starcraft and Overwatch.