Tournament Building: Any advice on Sponsorship, Game Permissions, and Other Hazards?


#1

Ive got a plan to build a new fighting game tournament, and I was discussing it with a local video game store owner who runs his own in-store contests. When I asked him if he ever looked into getting sponsorship for a contest, he told me that his contests were generally too small to get noticed, and he preferred it that way because it let him have the freedom he needed to run whatever contest he wanted. He mentioned that getting sponsorship from a game company might box you in to only the games they want to let you run, and that if you dont accept those terms, they might not allow you permission to use that game in a contest at all.

While this seemed plausible, the fact that his contests are so small led me to wonder whether his advice was relevant for the contest I intend to build. So I decided to take my questions here, in the hope that some experienced tournament organizers will have the time to answer these questions more fully, and maybe help other would-be tournament organizers jump start their contests. I ask the following with regard to contests built around arcade machines AND video game console games. Please be clear about which sort of contest your experience pertains to, as there may be differences in what is required in each case.

Sponsorship:
What are effective methods of getting sponsorship?
What are the pros and cons of getting sponsorship?
How likely is a contest to get sponsorship, and what is the possible fallout if they decide not to sponsor your contest?
How big / how old does a contest have to get before the benefits of sponsorship start outweighing the costs?
Can you get helpful sponsorship without sacrificing any of the games you would like to run in your tournament?

Game Permissions:
When is permission to use a game in a video game contest required?
What are effective methods of getting permission to use a game in a video game contest?
What are the possible disadvantages to getting permission to use a game?
How likely is a contest to get permission to use a game, and what is the possible fallout if they decide to deny you permission?

Are there any other hazards to worry about?


#2

Sponsorship:
What are effective methods of getting sponsorship?
What are the pros and cons of getting sponsorship?
How likely is a contest to get sponsorship, and what is the possible fallout if they decide not to sponsor your contest?
How big / how old does a contest have to get before the benefits of sponsorship start outweighing the costs?
Can you get helpful sponsorship without sacrificing any of the games you would like to run in your tournament?

Getting sponsorship for a local game tourney is hard. It’s not recommended, because once you get sponsorship, they have a certain degree of control over you. They might prioritize games you don’t want simply because of popularity. For example they might say “cancel 3s and put it Smash Bros.”, and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it. Your friend is right, your freedom gets very restricted (depending on the sponsor of course).

If you want to get sponsorship, you’re going to have to draw up something close to a business proposal. You’re going to have to predict how many people you expect, the revenues that might be gained, and why the sponsors would even want to throw money into the event.

Unless you really think venue/entry fee in the tournaments won’t come close to covering the costs, I recommend you don’t get a sponsorship. Besides, fighting game tournaments usually have a history of being paid for partly through the organizers tournaments. It’s the cross you have to bear of running a mainly underground scene.

**
Game Permissions:
When is permission to use a game in a video game contest required?
What are effective methods of getting permission to use a game in a video game contest?
What are the possible disadvantages to getting permission to use a game?
How likely is a contest to get permission to use a game, and what is the possible fallout if they decide to deny you permission?**

If it’s a fairly older game, most game companies won’t care if you use it it. To them it’s like free advertising anyway. I’ve never heard of a copyright violation in a fighting game tournament.

If you still have doubts, you should visit the company websites and e-mail the consumer relations department. MAKE SURE YOU EXPLAIN TO THEM THAT THE TOURNAMENT IS NOT EXPECTED TO DRAW A PROFIT. If they know it’s non-profit, they likely will not care.

The disadvantage of getting permission is the same as getting sponsorship; you will likely get restrictions. For example they might say the game should only be played on these consoles, with this type of TV, and only in these hours.

If your permission gets denied, there goes your tourney.

All in all, don’t get sponsorship unless it’s a company you know that won’t restrict you, and most of the time it’s not worth it to try and get permission.


#3

I posted in your other thread in GD too. But I think the software listed in my Sig will help you out immensely with the running of the actual tournament. :bgrin:


#4

I fully expect to make as robust a business proposal as I can manage. Any other thoughts on what a business proposal should look like?

Id like to guarantee profitability, if only to make sure its not a loss. Which is not to say that Id mind turning it into a business, either. Though Id like to be profitable, the games come first. Im not sure what you mean by organizers tournaments; could you clarify that?

Do video game contests even count as copyright violations? Are there laws that apply to this, or is it just a matter of covering your bases and being respectful?

Yeah, I fully intend to turn a profit if at all possible. So if youve got any thoughts about what I should do in that case, Id like to hear them.

Im inclined to think that the particular console thing wouldnt be too much of a problem. Well have enough of each console on hand in order to run the games for that platform. Id be concerned if they asked us to play the game on a console the game is less popular on, but that seems rather odd. The type of TV question worries me though. Would they actually insist we run the game on an older non-HD CRT set, or is it fine as long as we are using a reasonably modern set?

One of the reasons Im considering sponsorship is that it would be cool if Sony lent us a 1080p projector… :slight_smile:
Not like that would ever happen, of course.


#5

The main things would be:

Location cost
Entry fees for tournaments
How the business would profit from your tourney - for example, will they be able to advertise in key places? How much exposure does the business get at the tournament? Does the demographic fit their consumer base?
Approximately how much money you would like them to give to your venture, and the return they should expect on their investment, be it monetary or otherwise.

Yeah, the main goal should be to break even. If you’re looking to make it a business, then you run into a whole world of legal trouble. You’ll be using the games to make money, and the publishers/developers will definitely want a cut; if they find out, you could get sued for copyright infringement, and using their products for commercial gain. And besides, it’s rare for a fighting game tournament to ever turn a profit.

There’s only two reasons money is ever involved in a fighting game tournament:

1.) Provide pot incentives
2.) Cover overhead costs.

If you’re looking to make a profit, your prices will rise, and you’ll have a drop in people attending.

Also I meant “tournament organizers.” :rofl:

[quote]
Do video game contests even count as copyright violations? Are there laws that apply to this, or is it just a matter of covering your bases and being respectful?
[/QUOTE

See above

I’m fully against making a profit in a small time fighting game scene. A scene is hard enough to get together as it is, and it’s a dying cause. Trying to make profit of a bunch of people who just want to have fun and get better at games is low in my opinion.

It’s hard to answer those questions because the situation would be different everytime. As I said, don’t try and make it a profit turning business, and you won’t have problems with copyright and permission.


#6

Im intending this to be quite a rare contest indeed, so dont be surprised if it does turn a profit. The whole legality thing is one of the many reasons Im posting on here and asking for advice.

Well, I suppose that depends on how that profit is made. I wouldnt want entry fees to cost too much, because Id rather have as open a competition as possible; but if were selling stuff like food, drinks, t-shirts, video game merchandise, and other stuff like that, then Im inclined to think everyone would be happy with it. Of course, if you disagree on a point or two, I wouldnt mind hearing about it.
If the profit is in fact coming from merchandise sold at the event, will video game companies still be entitled to a cut, or are those profits unrelated?