7 steps for your esports contract
Drawing up an esports contract requires more than just the ordinary template you can find online. The esports industry is more complex and carries synergies of Contracts Law, Intellectual Property Law and Sports Law (not to mention Taxation Law). The challenge has been forming a sensible enough contract between the parties - particularly team owners and players. Check below the basic guide when you, whether you are a player, team or company/association, negotiate a Player contract.
1) Offer your players something in return
It is perfectly normal that a team or an association may not to be able to offer players regular salaries at the beginning, even if this may change quite quickly. Therefore, in order not to put them off right away and kill the motivation, let players share and keep the decent amount of the prize pool after taking a fair share. Any goodies/sponsored equipment players or the team received, should also remain with the players. Alternatively, teams or associations can pay for tournament entry fees and slots. Players will feel appreciated!
2) Who pays for what
Decide on who and how accommodation, travel costs and other expenses which may occur, will be covered, in order to avoid conflicts at a later stage. Will there be upfront payments by players? Will they be reimbursed afterwards? Think ahead!
Plus, no one wants to argue with their players about who pays what, when they need to stay focused during a tournament. The more established a team is, the more it can afford to pay for. When things are just kicking off, make sure to come to clear facts with each other and agree to those in your formal contract by adding them as substantial clauses.
You may do short-term contracts, which usually last between 3-6 months. With these, however, 30 days may be too long, depending on how often you are planning to attend tournaments and events.
Be lenient on penalties and restrictions, specifically when a team/association is still trying to establish itself. No player will sign a contract which gives him/her a lot of severe penalties and restrictions, while being part of a team and showing real commitment. Try to stay reasonable and don´t use any template found online. The esports industry is still flourishing and growing. As the structure is still developing, it is easily tempting to apply contractual clauses to players/teams on Penalties and Liabilities, which normally would apply to persons working in different industries. Therefore, these need to be adapted accordingly!
5) Code of Conduct
A very crucial additional part of Player contracts is to define the Code of Conduct for both sides - player & team/association. Define the Do's & Don'ts, as these will serve as a solid backup should there be any significant or gross misbehaviour by either side. Breaking the Code of Conduct usually leads to a significant breach of contract within esports, which may also carry penalties and liabilities towards each of the parties: player & team/association.
6) Intellectual Property Rights
Having seen several contracts by now, which required players to assign their Intellectual Property Rights to the team or association in question, definitely makes this a point of caution. What is meant by Intellectual Property Rights? In this case, it would be the gamer tag (nickname), the right over social media accounts, biography of the player, even the signature for autographs, any media content, etc. This is probably THE most significant value a player has and can build up during his career. It is not for no reason, that sports athletes insist on retaining their IPRs. A fair balance is therefore a must when a player is starting off his career.
(There will be a seperate article on Intellectual Property rights in esports)
7) Know your stuff!
Read carefully and inquire where necessary before anything is signed. This is the essential no. 1 rule with any agreement and contract!
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