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Publishing platforms need policies around not-for-profit game devs

Publishing platforms need policies around not-for-profit game devs

August 9, 2018 | By Emma Kidwell

"As we entered the publishing space, the first barrier was getting set up on each platform."

-  Glitch executive director Evva Kraikul speaking to Polygon about their not-for-profit ideology. 

Not-for-profit game developers creating games with the noble goal of taking earnings from their labor and using it to grow an organization and support its mission seems too good to be true-- and to big publishing companies, it is. 

In an interview with Polygon, Glitch executive director Evva Kraikul discusses the hurdles that not-for-profit organizations face when negotiating with platform holders like Sony, Nintendo, Valve and Microsoft to publish their games. 

Glitch, a Minnesota-based not-for-profit, provides residencies, grants and support for emerging game developers. Publishing games that are produced from the organization however (and sticking to its not-for-profit ideal), has been a challenge. 

"Realizing that our [not-for-profit] situation was unique, we reached out to Sony first to ask questions while setting up a developer account," Kraikul explains.

"After a bit of email run-around, we were told that they would only accept for-profit organizations as publishers and urged us to create a LLC, LLP, or Inc. We emailed to clarify but stopped receiving responses from their developer relations team shortly after.”

Kraikul went to seek a solution that would allow for not-for-profit publishing, but it's been difficult. While other entertainment industries have developed policies in place for not-for-profits (legally defined as “501(c)(3)” organizations) the games industry doesn't really have one.

"It definitely soured our experience when it came to setting up developer accounts on all the platforms,” Kraikul says. “If we didn’t see 501(c)(3) listed as an option then we figured it would also be an uphill battle similar to our experience with Sony."

"Since it was so uncommon to even see publishing as a 501(c)(3) listed, we figured we could either try to change policies and practices amongst all platforms we’re targeting, or develop a solution that would include a for-profit arm within our organization."

And the solution? Establish a benefit corporation as a subsidiary organization, which is a for-profit business driven by social impact missions. 

The interview was part of a longer discussion surrounding the challenges not-for-profits face in the industry, so be sure to read that over at Polygon. 

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