How to deal with major publishers in esports as a tournament organizer

We’ve discussed planning an esports tournament, dealing with pro teams in esports, preventing cheating in esports and more. However, we did not discuss one of the MOST important steps in getting a tournament going is your interactions with the major publishers.

Why is this important? Well, some publishers can shut your tournament down faster than you can blink so it’s best to understand the rules and regulations they put in place. The publishers hold MAJOR power at the moment so it’s important to understand how each publisher reacts and what they look for.

Some general tips and suggestions would be:

Do you need to contact anyone?

Find out if you need to contact anyone for your tournament license. Is it an FYI of “hey, we’re hosting this esports tournament on this date” or is it a “please sign this contract before proceeding and announcing anything”. Each publisher has different rules so you’ll figure it out pretty fast.

Getting the contact may be tough if you’re starting out. You can ask around with players or managers potentially if you don’t have the contact. They may not share it depending on who you are so don’t get upset. Some publishers have public website that you can fill out and read the information on tournament requirements.

Do you have to schedule around the publisher?

Do you need to schedule your games around the publisher? For example, they may say “Do not put on any tournament games during February 10-24 but you are free to do so in March on Tuesdays and Thursdays. As more and more publishers create their own esports events and leagues you’re more than likely to face this issue. Be prepared for the reality of non ideal time slots!

Figure out if you need a license or not

Some publishers operate under a strict license policy. Ie, if you want to host a tournament you MUST sign this contract prior to announcing anything at all. It is their game and their rules for now.

Here’s are some general rules that may or may not apply to most publishers.

  • Am I using their logos for promotion of the tournament?
    • Yes, you probably need a license
  • Do I want to request promotional support for my tournament?
    • If yes, probably need one.
  • My tournament is for my 4 buddies and my buddy is casting over my shoulder as we eat pizza at our condo.
    • Probably not. No lawyers will cease and desist your pizza party (I hope).
  • I’m offering a prize pool for my tournament and am not following a standard convention for my name.
    • This depends on the tournament and the publisher. Some publishers require you to add the title of the game + something like community to the title in all promotional materials. It’s best to read the rules on their website or contact
    • Another rule is depending on the prize pool you may just need to fill out a contract regardless. Example, anything over $10,000.

Does the publisher have any special requests or requirements?

Do you need to add a special thanks and copyright copy pasta at the end of your broadcasts? If so, better read the contract or requirements that are set out in the agreement or website. Publishers look at stuff frequently and if you’re not following the rules or bending them they may deny your license in the future or completely avoid you.

Do you need to add a photo of gaben during your instant replays? Better believe that needs to be in there for multiple reasons! (just kidding, you don’t need to add gaben to an instant replay. +10000 points if you do!

Image result for gaben

Is there a contract involved? Is it negotiable or take it or leave it?

Many contracts with publishers are VERY one sided. There’s very little wiggle room generally unless you’re doing something that benefits the publisher and is quite custom. Even then, it’s incredibly difficult to get a legal sign off with publishers. Generally you’re going to have take it or leave it contracts when you’re starting out and for quite some time afterwards.

It’s always best to get a lawyer to review any contract you have even if they say it’s standard.

So there you have it, some tips for dealing with publishers and getting your tournament approved. If you’d like to know about how to deal with publishers or more info, feel free to contact me or leave me a note below.

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