How Fine Print Could Kill Videogame Shows

How Fine Print Could Kill Videogame Shows

The fine print in exhibitor contracts for major trade shows is getting more and more dangerous. Here are the six worst examples from the current crop.

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Quite a bone-chilling article to read. Makes me wonder who in the legal profession is writing or reading all of this and able to make out the meanings and definition. Who would want to make an expo and have the expo fail or cancel to cash in on small video game companies? It is very tragic that failue can mean profit for people in this world.

First of all, interesting read, it's always amazing what people will do to other people to get out of their own mistakes.

I did want to comment on this though:

The show organizers consider the first preliminary step - applying for the right to apply for space - as a legally binding agreement, even without your signature.

If nobody signs anything, how is the contract legally binding, even if the show organizers would like to claim it as such? This seems more like a "claim everything and let the lawyers prove us wrong" type of policy.

Guess the days of Game Expos are on their way out the door. It's really sad when organizers feel the need to use such draconian methods to try to make a buck for a slump in space rentals. It's only going to kill more business and shut them down. Unless one of the exhibitors finds a legal loophole in the fine print and sues one of those organizers to oblivion sooner.

I say name & shame the specific exhibitions doing these things


just to add some tiny 2 cents before it might be misunderstood.
The show in Leipzig wasn't canceled as in "it is not happening at all".

What happened is that basically Cologne did everything they could to get the show and hence it will be happening there. From the looks of it, it appears that there won't be much changes to be expected when it happens in August.

While I am involved regarding their network security, I only know some of the guys that do the technical stuff, but they are very keen on making the show a success.

On the other hand, I wouldn't be suprised to see all that contract changes happening now and a lot of them really seem to be bad business practise.

At least here in Germany you usually got good chances to fight such unbalanced contracts at court. Of course, it depends on the judge and the circumstances, but that should be like everywhere else.

Those sneaky bastards. And anyway, I guess it's time to say goodbye to these events, at least for now, as they're getting uncontrollable, silly and just plain unprofitable.

Amazing that ios a bad practice for show organizers, they wont get as many people if everyone knew this, people could start their own shows...

If nobody signs anything, how is the contract legally binding, even if the show organizers would like to claim it as such? This seems more like a "claim everything and let the lawyers prove us wrong" type of policy.

It'll be like agreeing to Terms Of Service on forums.

"By clicking this button/sending this letter you are agreeing to the terms and conditions set out in our TOS,"

Somewhere in that will be the clause saying that registering interest automatically signs you up for X amount and that it is considered legally binding.

Any organizers who try to pull these shenanigans are likely to scam themselves right out of business. At best, word will spread that they're not to be trusted and no one will deal with them again. And let one single big-name publisher or developer get burned- Valve, EA, Blizzard, etc.- and armies of ravenous lawyers will tear down every last word of those "contracts", sue the organizers and very likely win. And then that opens the door for claims from everyone ELSE affected. Can you say bankruptcy?

It's kind of sad that the old tradition of staying in business by taking care of your customers is falling by the wayside, and now everyone needs lawyers to keep everyone else in check.

They need betetr legal protection.

Honestly, I would not go anywhere near a game expo if I were a company, that is some crazy legal print.

Seems like they are borrowing the worst business tactics of other industries like credit cards, real estate, record companies, etc. Its like they don't actually want to have the show.

That's very sad to hear, yet not a surprise. Then again, most gaming companies have such contracts themselves within their own game's EULA. World of Warcraft, for example, has a clause where a GM can suspend/ban your account just for most anything.

Excellent article. Though my only involvement in the biz is on the consumer end of things, I do appreciate the details.

I've never attended a b-school, but I'd hardly be surprised to see the same sorts of business practices highlighted in case studies of businesses that wrote themselves into irrelevance.

In this age of collaborative scheduling and edge to edge connectivity, I'm pretty sure the time of the convention will soon be past.

I've been to a few events, although normally technical rather than recreational, and this is a sudden trend. Unfortunately its based on issues with high risk loans. Unless the convention has a long standing precedence you're going to face these kind of restrictions because banks regard them as high risk ventures and that's a phrase which currently translates to a no in banking circles. The attempt to defray risk when something goes wrong is a misguided attempt to prove to banks that your venture is low risk, because even when everything goes wrong somebody else pays, and so you'll be more likely to get your loan.

Surprisingly this is a backwards step that's only be half taken. Once upon a time such events were often run by a group of attendees who agreed to such risks, and in return took a proportionate split the profits. The ease of bank loans and perceived guaranteed profit took the community out of events and made it business. These clauses are just an attempt to keep the money and hand the risk to somebody else.

Unfortunately the only cure is to stop attending and instead get three or four of the big organisations to team up and arrange their own together, with better agreements.

This seems a little like scare mongering to me. It shouldn't be any surprise that there are clauses in contracts that allows one party to **** over the other. You take similar risks when renting a property or buying a computer. If event organisers routinely take "legal liberties", word gets around and then they go out of business. Likewise for exhibitors.

Um, aren't the show organizers usually orders of magnitude smaller than most of the exhibiting companies? Wouldn't the large companies usually just raise a middlefinger and pretty much drive the show organizers into bankrupcy in the blink fo an eye?

Also isn't the tradeshow a completely obsolete concept for gaming anyway? Half of them are only aimed at the press which can be done just as well by directly handing the information to the press members (or, if necessary, invite them over for a demo), the other half is aimed at the public and that can be done just as well with a demo download which has a MUCH bigger audience. Videogame trade shows are almost never aimed at other businesses. Without the whole emphasis on these superfluous dinosaurs games can get developed on their own schedule instead of rushing out a presentable build for the fixed show date. We've got the internet these days, we can distribute information to many receipents cheaply and quickly, we have no need for concentrated releases of information like trade shows or magazine issues.

Those sneaky bastards. And anyway, I guess it's time to say goodbye to these events, at least for now, as they're getting uncontrollable, silly and just plain unprofitable.

Pehaps a quick injection of combine would resolve the issue... peacefully.

Thank you for giving me 5 more reasons to not start my own game development company as I've wanted to do for years. It looks to be as ricky an investment as a restaurant.


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