Can I sell ideas to game companies?


Jeremy Asks:

I have two new ideas for arts and crafts type programs. I am not a programmer nor am I involved in the gaming industry. I am looking to sell my ideas or more preferably get royalties for each program sold. Is this feasible in the gaming industry? Should I try to sell my ideas to established game companies?

Below is a description of the ideas. I can go into more detail about them if you are interested and will sign my confidentiality disclosure agreement.

The two programs go hand in hand and can be combined in certain ways. They allow the uneducated user to create in 3D very simply. They are original, creative, fun, and very marketable. They have a particular twist that makes them original and will allow them to stand out amongst the competition. They have an inherent marketing ability that will attract consumers of all ages, ten and up. At first sight, the consumer will immediately realize how easy it is to create and how limitless the possibilities are with these programs.


It's very very difficult to sell an idea in any industry and especially in the game industry. Unless the idea is something nobody has ever thought of and is obviously a winner it is unlikely you could find somebody interested in creating the product and giving you royalties. The biggest problem is that everybody has ideas from the president down to even the possibly the receptionist. That means that basically it's hard to pick the good ideas from the bad and since there are soo many ideas people usually feel they are not worth much.

Also ideas are often too simple. For example I might have an idea to make an offroad racing game. Then if I make it I may make something like Top Gear Rally (a Nintendo 64 game) or something like Sega Rally (a Sega Arcade game). Both games are basically based on off road racing of the same type and so the "idea" for the game is the same. The difference is in the implementation and details. One product did just okay (Top Gear Rally) and one product did fairly well (Sega Rally). So, most companies are looking for finished products or teams that can create finished products. They are not usually looking for ideas because they don't know if the idea, when implemented, will be any good.

The best way to get your product created is to either create it yourself or hire some people to do it for you. If you are confident in your product that's probably what you should do. If you just want to sell the idea it would probably be best to detail it out. In otherwords, design the interface, the menus, the dialog boxes. Have a picture of every display in the program and a description of what each and every button, key, menu, mouse press etc. does. That is probably worth something. It will allow the publisher to see the entire program and what kind of resources it will require to finish. It would also make it easy for you to hire somebody to do it for you because they will know exactly what you want.

You should also go to and read the recent article about selling games (which applies to software in general and books and records) Most likely the best way for your product to be sold is on the internet. Check out and I think both those companies are doing well selling only on the internet. Also you could check out They have a very very simple 3D program with a very very simple interface. I'm not sure if yours is similar.

Other people are most likely not going to have the same confidence that you do in your product's marketability. I'll give you an example but which may or may not be similar. About 8 years ago a company called Silent Software (they are still around I think) made a product called the Disney Animation Studio for the Amiga and PC compatible computers. It was supposed to make animation easy and since it was for Disney and Disney was going to sell it, for example, at the end of the animation studio tours at their Florida studios, Silent Software thought the product was a sure hit. The problem was, when it was released, they quickly found out that although lots of people go through the tour and lots of people watch Disney animation, very few people actually want to make animation.

With your software, you say it is going to be so obviously simple that everybody will want it but not everybody wants 3D software, and of those people that do, some people are looking for high-end stuff like 3D Studio Max, Softimage, Lightwave. Of those people that are looking for simple 3D software there are at least 5 or 6 other 3D programs that are currently claiming they are simple. Products like "Cool 3D", "Simply 3D" and "Truespace" and "Ray Dream Studio" and "Trispectives"

If you do try to hire/contract somebody to do it you can probably find somebody for under $10,000. I know that sounds like alot of money. Of course you can try to find somebody to do it in exchange for royalties, the problem is they need to pay the rent too and so will have a hard time spending alot of time doing your thing after they worked a full day somewhere else. Of course there are lots of young talented people too. In all cases the problem is finding somebody that can actually do it as opposed to someone who says he can. I will say that the more detailed you have it all specified the more likely you will get what you want, on time and on budget.

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