The University of Abertay in Dundee today launched The Code Bar, a new service which allows game prototypes created by students to be purchased by developers and publishers who wish to complete them and take them to market.
The goal of the project is to unlock valuable intellectual property created by students at Abertay University and on the world-leading game development competition Dare to be Digital.
The Code Bar has been created with input from the Intellectual Property Office and games industry consultant Brian McNicoll. The service will allow games created as part of the Dare to be Digital competition, or through Abertay’s numerous game development courses to be purchased by third-parties, with the students receiving 60% of the total price upon successful completion of the sale.
The Code Bar takes a very different approach to bringing promising new student games out to the market. There are so many games created by students at Abertay University, and on Dare to be Digital, that could be developed further by the right company.
We’re looking to unlock promising, hidden intellectual property – giving games companies new creative ideas to develop into full products, paying students for successful sales of their exceptional work, and hopefully bringing more innovative games to market.
…you are free to run the game project on your computer and to view and play around with the source code to help you understand key areas of game development.
The rights to each game are available through a closed bid system. Interested parties can place a bid on each project, with the current minimum bids starting at £5000. After a bid is received, there is a two week period for other parties to place competing bids. At the end of that period the highest bidder wins and the source code, documentation and IP will be transferred to the buyer.
The university and The Code Bar do not ask for any royalties, but would ask for a good will payment should the game achieve huge commercial success. The university also asks that Abertay and the original team should also be credited within the game.
The Code Bar also provides links directly to original team members and will facilitate introductions, should the new owner wish to employ any of the initial creators.
The Code Bar has an initial selection of seven projects available for acquisition, combining student projects and Dare to be Digital titles, including several award winners (Intel Visual Acuity Award, Adult Swim award, etc.):
- Into the Sky
- Epoch Defence
- Legendary Crusaders
- Space Whale
Rosa Wilkinson, Director of Innovation at the Intellectual Property Office, said:
The Intellectual Property Office is delighted to have been able to support this exciting initiative through its Fast Forward Competition.
The Code Bar is an excellent example of how the competition can support innovative approaches to knowledge exchange that benefit both businesses and students, leading to products and services that will help the UK economy to grow.
This is an interesting new project from Abertay and one we’ll be watching with interest. Ideas and concepts have little or no value within the games sector, with many developers and publishers refusing to accept concept submissions from outside the company, thanks to the possibility of the concept creator claiming ownership of future releases which are remotely similar to submitted concept.
The value of prototypes to the games industry is debatable. Most developers and publishers have a variety of concepts and projects queued up for future development, again relying upon internal concepts and projects, unless they are working with a third party license or brand.
It makes a great deal of sense for Abertay (and indeed all of the universities in which students are developing game prototypes) to explore opportunities to take games to market.
However, in the rapidly evolving interactive world, where content is almost infinitely plentiful and routes to the consumer shorter than ever, does selling IP make sense?
Would supporting and enabling student teams to complete a game and take it directly to market make more sense? It could provide Abertay with an ongoing revenue stream and would arguably give the students a the experience of actually taking a game to market, with all of the attendant marketing, support, community and life cycle updates which that would entail.
We’re suitably intrigued by The Code Bar and we’ll bring you all the news and updates we can from the project.
In the meantime, you can follow The Code Bar on Twitter.