In today's main Gamasutra feature and the latest edition of the Game Law column, game attorney Tom Buscaglia provides a cost-benefit framework looking at the question "to sue or not to sue?" from the perspective of game developers looking to recoup unpaid royalties or residuals, in the event of publisher-related issues.
As Buscaglia explains in his introduction:
"The harsh reality is that litigation has become a normal part of business in the modern world. Disputes occur that can not be resolved no matter how hard people try and ultimately the good offices of the court system is required to resolve these matters. Of course, it would be naive to think that the only matter to be considered when deciding whether to institute a lawsuit is whether you're going to win or not.
Game developers are especially susceptible to the perception that they do not have the power or the ability to litigate, especially against publishers. Let's take a look at the components of cost-benefit analysis that a developer should be considering when a question of filing suit against a publishing partner occurs.
Many developers say that even though a publisher had cheated them out of royalties or residuals, they were not willing to institute a lawsuit to recover their loses. The reasoning? Quite simply, they believe that in a buyer's market with only 30 or so viable publishing partners available, developing a reputation as a hard-nosed developer willing to sue to enforce his contractual rights would, ultimately, have a chilling effect on the developer's ability to get business. This may be true. However there are other things to consider."
You can now read the full Gamasutra feature on the subject, including plenty of other practical tips to weigh up the pluses and minuses of such an unfortunate situation (no registration required, please feel free to link to the article from external websites).