Cardboard Edison, a terrific service that pulls together tips and links for game designers, recently surveyed its published readers regarding their experiences with license contracts. The result is some fantastic data on what game designers can expect when selling their work to publishers.

Two infographics based on that data—one for pre-publication terms and one for post-publication—have been posted by Cardboard Edison so far. Among the issues addressed are royalty rates and advances, payment schedules, the reversion of rights, and creative control.

With this information from Cardboard Edison we can estimate the riches earned by designers from their games. Let’s take a game that sells at retail for $30. The wholesale price at which that game was sold by the publisher is probably around 50% of retail, or $15. Most designers earn royalties as a fixed percentage of wholesale price, typically 5-8 percent. So from the sale of one copy of that $30 game, the designer probably gets $0.75-1.20. If a game has a print run, and sells out, of 10,000 copies, that’s between $7,500 and $12,000 in total.

             bgcontracts - pre publication short      bgcontracts - post publication short