Gamer Contracts and Red Flags

Old Bailey

One goal of law – as we learn in law school from the first day of contracts – is to deter bad behavior.

 – Marvin Ammori

We at Edge Esports recently offered some free legal advice to our awesome followers on our social channels and our DMs got flooded with people looking for help. Some had very specific questions about contracts, sponsorship and finding a team. Others were just wondering where on earth to start with the path to pro. One thing was very clear though, that they didn’t really understand contracts. That’s not surprising. You can’t expect every gamer with a contract in front of them to know exactly what they’re doing. However, they need to know. This article is the first of two to help gamers know what to look out for when approached by a team.

Why do you want a contract?

So a team wants to sign you. Congratulations you’ve made it! But just hold on a second. You’re probably thinking that this means money, recognition and that you get to play your favourite game as a job. It can be, but that is not what a contract is. A contract is a collection of terms of a deal that you make so if anything goes wrong it can be used to solve the dispute. Hopefully those terms are fair and clear give you what you expect, but that’s not always the case. Bad contracts are often not made deliberately by either party (although there are some bad eggs out there). You should also know that you can make a contract without anything in writing, but it absolutely helps to have the terms written down and indeed the law often requires it for contracts of employment.

Be careful what you wish for

The contract is not just a promise of money for the gamer; it imposes obligations on the gamer and it needs to be very clear what is expected of you. Basic things to think about would be, what are the obligations regarding gaming? How much time do I have to spend on it? What benchmarks do I have to reach? Where do I have to play? The last one especially is important in a digital and international industry where players can be playing for teams on the other side of the world.

You also need to think about the non-gaming obligations. Again, what is expected of you regarding promotion (including promotion of sponsors’ brands). You might end up having to promote a product that you’re uncomfortable with, or in a way that you’re uncomfortable with. You also need to think about requirements on self-promotion. You may be a focused gamer and not much of a streamer, but teams could be ask you to maintain, grow and be active on social channels as well. We recently came across a team who had that exact problem. They wanted to be gamers, not influencers, but they ran into the contract chasing that almighty dollar sign.

You also need to think about expenses. Teams often provide players with standard kit, but what else should be provided? Two big ones here are travel and tech. As a pro gamer going to tournaments you may need to travel to the other side of the globe. Are you willing to foot the bill for that? Is there accommodation provided at these venues and to what standard? And what about tech? Do you need help keeping your rig up to the latest spec and do you need an improvement with your internet services at home? Lag is not your friend. Some of the big teams will provide all of this in-house as you may be asked to go and live at their team’s game house. Check out that you’re happy not only with the quality of the accommodation but also with the idea of communal living and the vibe in the house.

Think about the future

Finally (for this episode), check how long the contract will last. How easy would it be too leave if you don’t like it, and at what cost? We’ll be talking more about that in the next blog. Be sure to follow us on twitter so that you don’t miss out, and tag anyone else you know who might need advice. Keep gaming and see you in the next blog!