Becoming a professional gamer inevitably means entering into contracts with esports organisations. However, professional gamers are typically younger than normal employees, and even their traditional sport peers. Unlike their traditional sports peers, gamers have global profiles right from the start and may participate in competitions around the world. This complicates their tax position, as well as raising questions over image rights and other matters. Pro gamers and those wanting to turn professional will rarely have any prior experience of these issues and need to take expert advice from an early stage.
This article aims to provide pro gamers with some insight into some of the issues they will need to consider and address in their legal agreements to ensure that both parties’ rights are protected, and that disputes are avoided as far as possible.
When I practiced sports law, I occasionally saw agreements made on the back of napkins. But such contracts are a recipe for uncertainty and dispute, in that they fail to address the many issues that need to be covered.
In order to illustrate the point most effectively, I have drafted a hypothetical contract between “esports Org” and “the Player”, outlining the main obligations. It’s simple, clear enough, but not comprehensive.
Obligations of the esports Org
The esports Org shall:
- Ensure the Player is provided with all of the equipment they need in order to perform their duties in accordance with this Agreement.
- Remunerate the player in accordance with the Payment Schedule found in Annex 1 to this Agreement.
- Observe the League Rules of Organization X, all of which (other than the eSports Org Rules) shall take precedence over the esports Org Rules.
- Provide the Player each year with copies of all the League Rules of Organization X, which affect the Player and of the terms and conditions of any policy of insurance in respect of or in relation to the Player with which the Player is expected to comply.
- Arrange within 21 days appropriate medical, physical and dental examinations and treatment for the Player at the eSports Org’s expense in respect of any injury to or illness (including mental illness or disorder) of the Player save where such injury or illness is caused by an activity or practice on the part of the Player not related to this Agreement.
- Comply with all relevant statutory provisions relating to industrial injury and any regulations made pursuant thereto.
- At all times maintain and observe a proper health and safety policy for the security safety and physical wellbeing of the Player when carrying out his duties under this contract.
- Give the Player every opportunity compatible with his obligations under this contract to follow any course of further education or vocational training which he wishes to undertake and give positive support to the Player in undertaking such education and training.
Obligations of the Player
The Player shall:
- When directed by an authorised official of the esports Org:
- attend matches in which the esports Org is engaged;
- articipate in any matches in which he is selected to play for the eSports Org;
The Player shall not:
- during the course of this Agreement undertake or be engaged in any other employment or be engaged or involved in any trade business or occupation or participate professionally in any other sporting or athletic activity without the prior written consent of the esports Org.
Apart from the all-important question of money (briefly referred to above), there is the question how long the contract will last and/or how much notice has to be given to bring it to an end. The contract may contain non-disclosure obligations prohibiting the gamer from revealing ‘confidential information’. Unless carefully drafted that can easily lead to disputes. Esports organisation may also want to extend the non-compete clause beyond the termination of the agreement, which may be valid in some jurisdictions but not others. Then there are the very important issues of sponsorship and image rights, and (in case of disagreement) the questions which law applies and how disputes will be resolved.
As you can see this is already far too complicated and it’s only the minimum that you should be looking out for. The best way to make sure that you get the contracts that protect your interests is let Edge do it for you. If you want to go pro and have concerns about contracts and legal protections, get in touch with us here.