Spotlight: Alive Mediasoft - Gefährlich oder verkannt?

Mark Sheeky, Autor von Blade

I wrote Blade independantly in 1997. My previous game Burnout had been published by Vulcan Software and had some success and I was hoping for something similar for Blade. During playtesting for Burnout I was contacted by Andrew Reed (still a good friend, policeman and very honest bloke) who had problems getting the game (Burnout) to work, we got talking and he said that he always wanted to publish games and was thinking of setting up a company. When Blade was finished, Vulcan were not interested so I gave Andrew a call and he said that his new company, Alive Mediasoft would like to publish Blade. Andrew set up the company with Steven Flowers and Jenny Flowers and he later told me that he put a lot of his money into the company.

Now a bit about contracts, if you don't know. There are generally two types of sales, direct to the public where people phone up the company and mail order copies or trade sales where the game is sold to warehouses/shops. Trade sales are marked down of course for the shop/warehouse to make a profit, generally 50-60% so a game that costs $40 to buy would be bought by the shop for $15-20. The Vulcan contract for Burnout gave me 25% of the final sale price for direct sales and 25% of the trade sales price (that is 50-60% of the final sale price).

Blade was a better deal. Andy promised me 25% of the sales price for direct sales plus 18% of the sales price for trade sales. So for if the game cost $100 I'd get $25 for a direct sale and $18 for a trade. I made sure that the contract said this and signed on 27/8/97.

I handed over Blade and the source code (which I didn't like, even Vulcan didn't want that, and Alive have published it since!). Things then started to go wrong. Firstly I found out that there would be no special box for Blade. It would be printed on home printers. The I found that they were not going to accept credit card orders. This effectively meant no direct sales because people couldn't buy the game directly from them, so there goes my 25%. Then I discovered that Andrew Reed had left the company because the other two were spending the (his) business money on things like holidays and not the company.

The contract said I should get paid every month, on the first but nothing came on September 1st. I started to complain but I was given some excuses. Nothing came on October 1st either. On the 17th of November I got my first letter from Alive, which was nice because all games sell the most copies in the first month of release. It had no direct sales and just 7 trade sales. Whats worse is that they paid me not 18% of the sale price but 18% of the discounted price. So for the first month I got 17.57 UK pounds.

I was annoyed. I phoned Andrew Reed and he said that I was right and that I should be getting 18% of the actual sale price he also said that before he left that they had sold lots of copies (I think he said hundreds) because he saw them all ready made.

Over the next few months they sent reports of very few sales with small cheques until one day they stopped sending anything at all, I had receievd a total of 154.56 for the nine months of full time work I put into Blade. I never had any evidence of how many they actually sold, they just refused to show any! They never did pay the royalty I (and Andrew Reed) expected. Andrew told me that he would testify in court that the royalty calculation is they way that I expect!

Soon after I sold my Amiga and vowed never to write another game for it.

Of course I went to see a lawyer but he said that unless I was sure that they had made thousands of pounds then it would cost me too much try and get my money back.

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